Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Part the first: A New Direction for GAFCON?

(The first part of this post is a recap of the latest GAFCON events. The second part is my own analysis of some of the more outrageous statements to emerge from the conference. For instance, did you know that John Spong is a “typical” American? Yup. So, without further ado, part the first.)

It’s not exactly what you would call official, but it does appear that the conservative Anglican movement meeting at GAFCON is changing its tone and, more importantly, its direction. It would seem that that Archbishops Akinola and Orombi have lost credibility in the eyes of their own movement, schism is more a non-starter than ever, and homosexuality may cease to be the conservatives’ top issue. After several incendiary comments from Akinola and his refusal, along with Orobmi’s, to condemn violence against gays, a split occurred between GAFCON’s hard-line rabble-rousers and its more Anglican-minded grumblers. The Guardian’s Riazat Butt, one of the leading reporters on these things, reports,

On the second day of a conference which has laid bare the divisions in the Anglican communion over homosexuality, notes of discord could already be heard. Talk of betrayal, disappointment and disagreement threatens to sour the Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon), which has cost £2.5m and drawn more than 1,200 delegates from Africa, Australia and the US.

As far as schism goes, Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya, who will draft the convention’s final statement, flatly declared: “There will be no split.” Instead, England’s Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, managed to shift the conservative conversation away from homosexuality and towards secular culture and militant atheism. The most significant news may well be that the Archbishop of Sydney (Australia), Peter Jensen, is replacing Akinola and Oromba as the movement’s leader. From the same Guardian article as above,

Jensen is seen at the conference as the bridge between the hardline conservatives who want nothing to do with liberal churches in the US and Canada and those who wish to stay in the communion despite profound ideological differences over the ordination of gay clergy. It is agreed among the clutch of westerners at the conference that the real power will lie with the Australian delegates, not those from Africa.

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