Gafcon Gleanings - Friday
Reflections from ANiE Delegates:
Dave McCarthy, St Thomas Edinburgh (ACE)
Heartbreak & Healing: I came to Gafcon IV this time with great reluctance. A combination of all the travelling and a heavy heart at what might be the outcome of the conference did not fill me with enthusiasm! In the Lord’s providence, good lay leaders’ and our bishop’s gentle encouragement prevailed and I am so glad I came.
As we end our time together there comes time for reflection on all that the Lord has done and given us. Here are some very early thoughts on what I hope we are being called to be.
A serving church: A powerful expression of this was shown early on Monday morning when our much delayed flight (via Zanzibar!) arrived at Kigali at 3am. Imagine my astonishment on discovering that Laurent Mbanda, the Archbishop of Rwanda, was there waiting to greet us with a big hug. That set the tone of the conference for me. The welcome, care, and hard work of the mainly Rwanda volunteers has been humbling and serves as a powerful example of what we should all do and be all of the time.
A united church: People from fifty two nations spent five days praying, working, worshipping, and loving one another - Jesus’ bride has seldom been more beautiful. It has been delightful to see old friends made as long ago as Gafcon I in 2008 and also making many new ones. There is much difference in culture, worship styles, and personality, yet we stand shoulder-to-shoulder under the authority of Scripture and the love of God. There are frictions, occasional apparent selfishness (not everyone around the world gets queuing!), and misunderstandings, yet we are committed to stand firm together.
A faithful church: We have to choose to be faithful each day and in Kigali I have been reminded that whatever challenges I face, many of my sisters and brothers around the world have it much tougher, economically, politically, and spiritually. Whether it’s in the turmoil of Sudan and Myanmar, or the determined doctrinal drift of some in the Church of England, it is comforting to know that Gafcon offers support, encouragement and prayer. The final statement was received in lamenting silence as we realised the solemnity of the moment. I’d hope and prayed it would be so, so when it happened like that, it was a tearful moment. The Anglican Communion is being reset and it’s both wonderful and daunting to be a small part of that history.We now pray that there is repentance on the part of those provinces which have departed from the apostolic faith. Our hope for them is healing and reconciliation following that repentance.
Tomorrow I return to Edinburgh and the joy of serving the Lord who will build His Church.Thank you Lord, for the privilege of being part of this global family.
Pete Jackson, Christ Church Walkley, Sheffield (AMiE)
I met a Ugandan brother yesterday whose ministry is all about promoting something he calls ‘reverse mission.’ It involves encouraging Ugandan churches to send their young and trainee ministers to the West in order to learn under a minister there, whilst bringing something of the evangelistic and spiritual vitality of the Church of Uganda to the western context. This was was on full display in the stirring final Colossians message from the Archbishop of Uganda on Friday.
This seems to me to illustrate a logic that is at the heart of Gafcon - across the global church we need one another. We in the West have training and resources that can benefit our brothers and sisters elsewhere, but we also have so many ways in which we need them. We need their witness, prayers and help if we are to re-evangelise the west.
Scott McKay, Christchurch Newland, Hull (AMiE)
It is the final day of Gafcon and I am going to miss arriving at the conference each day excited about the conversations I will have with sisters and brothers from around the world. Chats that warm the heart and pierce the heart and at the same time fill the heart with joy.
There is not space here to recount all the conversations I have had that have inspired, challenged and encouraged. But I would like to tell of one man in my prayer group who ministers in Australia. The reason I mention him is because like mine his ministry was very ordinary but he was enthusiastic about it and faithful in it. As we spoke each day, our ministry separated by thousands of miles, we spurred one another on in love and good deeds. Same Lord, same Gospel, same Holy Spirit of God working among us.
Bishop Andy Lines (ANiE, ACE, AMiE)
Gafcon IV has ended with a Statement. In God’s gracious providence of attending all 4 Gafcon Conferences. One of the key marks of all of them has been the immense effort spent in listening and responding to what the delegates were saying. In 2008 that was done much more in small groups with people listening and reporting. This time technology allowed for a survey to be issued that led to a first draft, that was then discussed in regions, tweaked, checked by the Primates’ Council before a final version was read out this morning. Once again it demonstrated that, unlike most conferences, there is a genuine sense of conferring.
Meeting people has been another major feature; making new friends as well as renewing old acquaintances, which because I worked with Crosslinks, were quite extensive. One old acquaintance I breakfasted with today was former Nigerian Primate Archbishop Akinola. Akinola is the principal founding father of Gafcon. I am reading one of his biographies (Who blinks first). From humble beginnings he became revered and feared across the Communion. In person he is gentle and kind but with a very clear and unswerving gospel vision which continues despite his 80 years. He and Peter Jensen (similar in age) who served as his first General Secretary have had remarkable vision of what is needed. We honour the God who equipped and prepared men like these and honour them for being prepared to suffer for him.
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