Gafcon Gleanings - Retrospective

Reflections on the whole week from ANiE Delegates:

Lee McMunn, Trinity Scarborough (AMiE)

It’s hard to describe the emotions of being present at a truly historic event for Anglican Christians. The outcome of Gafcon IV is a commitment to reset, reform, reorder and revive the Anglican Communion. I’m convinced this will be an event that children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces will ask us about. Were you there when it was decided to restore the Bible to the heart of this global fellowship. And what was it like? 

It has been a joy to meet so any faithful brothers and sisters from 53 nations. The singing has been exuberant and the teaching powerful. The kindness, generosity, sacrifice and courage of so many Christians has been inspirational. 

The theme of Gafcon IV has been, “To whom shall we go?” I was delighted to be reminded each day that our first priority is to go to Jesus as he has the words of eternal life. But then with Jesus we go to all the world and share the unchanging message of the gospel. 

As the conference statement was read on the final day, the Holy Spirit brought two very different, but equally strong emotions to my heart. There was deep sorrow at the tragedy of the problem resulting from Biblical departure and the assault on God’s glory. But overflowing joy at the new day that is dawning for Anglican Christians. 

There is much to be done in the months and years to come. But we trust the powerful and providing God to build the global fellowship that we all desire.

I may not immediately download everything to my wife and kids when I arrive home. But that will be hard because I return more convinced than ever that being part of Gafcon is a little taste of heaven. 

Dan Leafe, Anchor Anglican Church Fowey (ACE) 

Ten years ago, after Gafcon II in Nairobi Kenya, I became one of the founding members of what was then called, “The Executive Committee of the Anglican Mission in England”. I think I am right in saying that the only “survivors” in the Network of those days are Bishop Andy Lines, Bishop Tim Davies and myself - you will notice the odd one out. In those early days quite where the whole thing was heading was far from clear.

So, it has been a joy for me to be in Kigali to see the Anglican Network in Europe (ANiE) playing a full and mature part in the leadership of Gafcon IV. ANiE is, as yet, only a proto-Province but no one would know that given the extent of its role in the conference.

The session in which the Conference heard of what is happening in the British Isles was hosted by Bishop Lines, the Presiding Bishop of the Network. One of the pair of 2023 comperes has been Bishop Lee McMunn, one of the AMiE bishops - he did a brilliant job amidst some very sad and trying circumstances. If you haven’t seen a certain gif of him showing-off what he insisted was his “African dancing” on the main platform, you need only ask! One of the afternoon seminars heard from Revd Philip de Grey-Warter, the rector of an ACE (Anglican Convocation in Europe) church in Fowey, Cornwall, and leading the closing service of Holy Communion, at which AMiE Bishop Tim Davies assisted, was another ACE rector, Revd Josh Maynard, of Wellspring Church in Wales. The English representative on the group that produced the historic Conference Statement, known as the “Kigali Commitment”, was Revd Andrew Symes who is a licenced AMiE minister and part of an AMiE church in Oxford.

This is all a sign of how Gafcon’s attentions in England (and Europe) are now focussed on the jurisdiction it has created. The Kigali Commitment says, “In view of the current crisis, we reiterate our support for those who are unable to remain in the Church of England because of the failure of its leadership. We rejoice in the growth of the ANiE…” Similarly, at the closing Press Conference when asked whether Gafcon would provide, “flying bishops in [the Church of] England”, the Chair of the Gafcon Primates’ Council, The Most Revered Foley Beach’s reply was clear, “No. We have a structure in place. We are encouraging those in England to fight and resist as best they can - but if they need oversight, we have a structure [ANiE]”.

Gafcon, along with all those of us have seen it develop over this decade, do indeed, “rejoice in the growth of ANiE”.

Malcolm Hughes, Wellspring Anglican, Wales (ACE)

It’s easy to say say the past week for me has been transformational. Its has been a true picture of what the church should look like. Not perfect in every way, but a church that is seeking to stand true to the Word of God, despite what it may cost them. Be that their jobs, their reputation or as with many of the stories I've heard; their safety, their families and their lives. 

It is a church that is global and diverse. I've met people from Uganda, Rwanda, Madagascar, Nigeria, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Guinea Bissau, Myanmar, America, South Africa, Kenya and Germany and more!

It is a church in communion. I've spoken with Bishops, clergy and with laity, all as brothers and sisters. But not only have I met and spoken with such a diverse communion of believers, I have also shared with them: Shared my life, our churches journey and hurt. I have shared and grieved in their hurts and rejoiced in their victories! I have truly  begun to understand what 1 Corinthians 12:26 means. It has been moving and inspiring and I have lost track of the number of times I've been moved to tears.

Having spent many years in the church in Wales and at Governing Body (General Synod) meetings where it has been cold and felt alienating. Walking into Gafcon feels like walking into a room where everyone knows your name - even though I keep introducing myself.

Philip de Grey-Warter, Anchor Anglican Church Fowey (ACE)

Gafcon is about global partnership; profound relationships forged across differences & distance through our shared commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ in his sufficiently and supremacy, and to his word written in its ‘truthfulness, clarity, sufficiency, and thereby its authority.’

There have been wonderful and divinely orchestrated partnership encounters this week, many of which have left main tears. When we were on the point of resigning from the CoE, I went to the ACNA provincial assembly in Dallas and met Carol. Like many there, she immediately welcomed me and assured me that ahe knew the path we were about to tread and would be standing with us and praying for us at the Anchor. We bumped into one another on one of the ramps up to the auditorium. Her first words were “I hoped you be here. I’ve been looking for you. We’ve been praying for you.” That solidarity before the Lord is precious beyond words.

Peter Judge-Mears from Australia sought me out of the first day. As the Gafcon family had reached out to us, telling us, “You’re not alone. You’ve got a home.”, I’d sent him an email with the very same encouragement when he had resigned from the Diocese of Brisbane last September. He wanted to tell mean how significant it had been when he was feeling very isolated and fearful. It was a sentiment I knew exactly, having been there. We had never met, but there was an immediate deep connection because of our partnership in the gospel and our gratitude to the Gafcon family. We now plan to create a church to church partnership to pray for one another in ‘proclaiming God’s unchanging word to a changing world.’ That’s Gafcon! Praise God for it!