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Global Anglican Future Conference

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Title: Global Anglican Future Conference  
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Subject: Anglican Church of Tanzania, 2008 in Israel, Bernard Ntahoturi, Current events/2009 July 5, Mouneer Anis
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Global Anglican Future Conference

Logo of the Global Anglican Future Conference.

The Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) was a seven-day conference of conservative Anglican bishops and leaders held in Jerusalem from 22 to 29 June 2008 to address the rise of secularism in the churches, HIV/AIDS and poverty. As a result of the conference, the Jerusalem Declaration was issued and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans was created. The conference participants also called for the creation of the Anglican Church in North America as an alternative to the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada and declared that recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury is not necessary to Anglican identity.[1]

GAFCON occurred one month prior to the Lambeth Conference, the ten-yearly gathering of Anglican Communion bishops. GAFCON stated the movement rose because a "false gospel" is being promoted within the Anglican Communion, which denies the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and "promotes a variety of sexual preferences and immoral behaviour as a universal human right".[1][2] This is commonly considered a result of the consecration in 2003 of openly non-celibate homosexual bishop Gene Robinson by the Episcopal Church[3] and more generally from the perception that some parts of the Anglican Communion might be departing from biblical teaching.[4][5][6]



The leading participants of GAFCON included seven Anglican primates, Archbishops Peter Akinola of Nigeria, Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya, Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda, Henry Luke Orombi of Uganda, Valentino Mokiwa of the Anglican Church of Tanzania, Justice Akrofi of West Africa, and Presiding Bishop Greg Venables of the Southern Cone; Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney, Australia, Bishops Bethlehem Nopece of South Africa, Wallace Benn and Michael Nazir-Ali of England, Don Harvey of Canada, Robert Duncan and Martyn Minns of the United States; Canon Vinay Samuel of India and Canon Chris Sugden of England. GAFCON was attended by 1148 lay and clergy delegates, including 291 Anglican Bishops, from 29 countries. The identities of those attending have not been published and may have included bishops and clergy outside the Anglican Communion, including some from the Continuing Anglican Movement.

The leaders present claimed to represent 35 million "active" Anglicans in the worldwide communion.[7][8] The leadership team listed by GAFCON on its website consisted of 16 men, of whom 9 were from England, North America and Australia, and one other was UK based.[9]

Session topics

Daily sessions were held from 22 to 29 June 2008. Sessions were held on the topics of secularism, the Anglican Communion, HIV/AIDS and poverty.[10]


At the beginning of the conference a booklet was released by Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria entitled The Way, the Truth and the Life: Theological Resources for a Pilgrimage to a Global Anglican Future.[11] Delegates also visited sacred sites in and around Jerusalem.

Originally GAFCON was intended to take place in two parts: a week in Jordan and a week in Jerusalem for the conference. This was also intended to allow participation by bishops from Pakistan and Sudan, who would not be able to visit Israel. To make accommodations and meet issues raised by the local Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem the Jordan part of the programme was subsequently downgraded to a "pre-GAFCON preparatory consultation", with the Jerusalem segment upgraded from a pilgrimage to a period of substantive deliberation.

After one day, on June 18, Jordanian authorities closed GAFCON, and forcing approximately 140 people to relocate to Jerusalem. Archbishop Akinola's diplomatic passport was denied entry.[12]

The conference took place from 22 to 29 June 2008 at the modern Renaissance Hotel near the outskirts of Jerusalem.[13]


A GAFCON statement was released on the final day of the conference. It was produced based on input from all 1148 delegates.[1] The statement claims that the GAFCON movement has arisen because a "false gospel" is being promoted within the Anglican Communion, which denies the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and "promotes a variety of sexual preferences and immoral behaviour as a universal human right".[1][3]

The GAFCON statement announced that GAFCON would be a continuing "movement in the Spirit" rather than a once-off event. Although GAFCON did not decide to create a formal schism in the Anglican Communion, it expressed plans to set up new ecclesiastical structures, particularly within the liberal provinces of North America, to cater for conservative Anglicans. Of particular note, the GAFCON statement claims that recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury is not necessary to Anglican identity.[1] It calls for the formation of a new council of unelected GAFCON Primates.[3]

The GAFCON statement was criticized by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who said that "A ‘Primates’ Council’ which consists only of a self-selected group from among the Primates of the Communion will not pass the test of legitimacy for all in the Communion. And any claim to be free to operate across provincial boundaries is fraught with difficulties, both theological and practical."[14]

Jerusalem Declaration

The GAFCON statement contains the "Jerusalem Declaration", a doctrinal confession which was intended to form the basis of a new "Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans" (FCA).[1] The declaration upholds the Holy Scriptures as containing "all things necessary for salvation", the first four Ecumenical councils and three Creeds as expressing the church's rule of faith, and the Thirty-Nine Articles as authoritative for Anglicans today. In addition, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer is called "a true and authoritative standard of worship and prayer" and the Anglican Ordinal is recognised as an authoritative standard.


Archbishop of Canterbury

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, said on 19 December 2007 that plans to hold a pre-Lambeth meeting for conservatives did not signal disloyalty as such a meeting "would not have any official status as far as the Communion is concerned".[15]

Negative reactions

Bishop of Jerusalem

The Presiding Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Mouneer Anis, who is conservative on matters of human sexuality, publicly announced that he would not attend GAFCON, observing that "the Global South must not be driven by an exclusively Northern agenda or Northern personalities".[16]

The Bishop of Jerusalem, in whose territory it was to be held, initially issued a press release saying:

I am deeply troubled that this meeting, of which we had no prior knowledge, will import inter-Anglican conflict into our diocese, which seeks to be a place of welcome for all Anglicans. It could also have serious consequences for our ongoing ministry of reconciliation in this divided land. Indeed, it could further inflame tensions here. We who minister here know only too well what happens when two sides cease talking to each other. We do not want to see any further dividing walls![17]

He indicated that the regional primate "is also concerned about this event. His advice to the organisers that this was not the right time or place for such a meeting was ignored."[17]

On 12 and 15 January 2008, the Bishop of Jerusalem had meetings with the GAFCON organisers, including Archbishops Jensen and Akinola, in which he explained his reasons for objecting to the conference, and the damage it would do to his local ministry of welcome and reconciliation in the Holy Land. He insisted that the Lambeth Conference was the correct venue for internal discussions. However, he proposed as an alternative, "for the sake of making progress in this discussion" that the GAFCON conference should take place in Cyprus, to be followed by a "pure pilgrimage" to the Holy Land. The minutes of the meetings were published.[18]


The announcement of the conference received criticism from some conservatives, due to it, potentially giving liberals a more powerful voice at the Lambeth Conference. Former [19] Carey has also called for the American House of Bishops to commit itself to the Windsor Covenant, which imposes a moratorium on the consecration of homosexual bishops and blessing of same-sex unions.[19]

Liberals and Anglo-Catholics

The Bishop of Newcastle in Australia,[20] Brian Farran, was critical of GAFCON along with the overwhelming majority of the Australian bishops.

Positive reactions

The conference was, however, particularly welcomed by bishops in conflict with the official policies of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America. Former Episcopal priest, now suffragan bishop of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, David Anderson said: "The gathering will be in the form of a pilgrimage back to the roots of the Church's faith: thus this journey begins with a pilgrimage."[21]


The second Global Anglican Future Conference was held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 21 October to 26 October 2013, at All Saints' Cathedral. The focus was on the shared Anglican future, discussing the missionary theme of "Making Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ".[22] Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, made a flying visit to the conference on 20 October 2013. He expressed his condolences for the Westgate shopping mall attack and preached two sermons at All Saints' Cathedral.[23]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Is the crisis in the Anglican Communion about homosexuality? from GAFCON Q&A
  7. ^
  8. ^ Jerusalem Declaration Signals New Reality for Anglican Communion, GAFCON Official Website, 29 June 2009
  9. ^
  10. ^ Jerusalem 2008, GAFCON Official Website
  11. ^
  12. ^ Evangelicals Now, August 2008, quoted online at
  13. ^ BBC, Anglicans seeking tradition faced with Gay Pride
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ [1]
  17. ^ a b
  18. ^ [2]
  19. ^ a b
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ Anglican Mainstream retrieved 18 October 2013
  23. ^ BBC News Centre, retrieved 30 October 2013.

External links

  • GAFCON website
  • GAFCON booklet
  • Final GAFCON statement
  • [3] All Video from speakers and presentations at Conference—GAFCON Jerusalem
  • Constructing the boundaries of Anglican orthodoxy: An analysis of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) An article based on interviews and fieldwork conducted at GAFCON by the authors
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