Saturday 16 June 2018
Dan Leafe writes:
Yesterday Susie and I arrived in Jerusalem as English delegates to the third Global Anglican Futures Conference, which is something of a mouthful, so it is known to all as “GAFCON”. It is a conference of 2,000 Anglicans from around the world. Everything you might need to know can be found at www.gafcon.org.
Heading for Jerusalem it is difficult not to think of the Lord Jesus doing the same: “As the days drew near for him to be taken-up, [Jesus] set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51).
The destination, however, is pretty much the only thing delegates share with the Lord’s journey. In particular, I have been struck that Jesus was heading towards a lonely death and an even lonelier tomb. The contrast with the experience of the GAFCON delegate - because of his death and resurrection - could not be greater.
GAFCON is the international Anglican family coming together, a family created by and united in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is predictable to say so but this is a gathering if not, “from every tribe and language and people and nation”, certainly from an awful lot of them- around 50 nations…and I wonder just how many tribes, languages and people…perhaps someone will try and work it out.
For many here there is literal family - spouses, children, in-laws; Anglicans, just like the community of God’s people down the ages, have a tendency to intermarry! I have been looking forward to GAFCON so much, in part because for me it is a literal family experience - obviously Susie is here but so will be my sister and brother-in-law, who in turn are only able to come because our mother is caring for their girls.
Just as important is that GAFCON is a church family experience - Susie and I await the arrival of Philip and Ben tomorrow. Jerusalem will be an important week we share together. In fact, I see particular significance in Ben’s presence; it is a great blessing that at the last minute, a place came avaiable at no cost to the church, Ben has been able to join the conference because this GAFCON has a particular emphasis on young leaders like him. GAFCON only meets corporately every five years - Susie and I first came when we were 40 but Ben has the chance to get three GAFCON’s under his belt before hitting that milestone and that is how GAFCON will become the long-term, sustainable movement for the renewal of Anglicanism that it intends to be.
And if that was not enough, it is also a communion family experience. From the moment we got into Ben Gurian airport yesterday we renewed friendships with Anglicans from around the world - a couple whose daughter is going to work with our mission partners JP and Sue Arunzulla in Bologna nest year; a retired America archbishop who has helped so much in the always necessary work of teaching the next generation to contend for the faith of the Gospel; Africans who have supported us at past international gatherings; Australians from whom English Anglicanism has benefited so much, and simply brothers and sisters - be they archbishops, bishops, clergy and lay people, from five continents who share our biblical, Anglican profession of the Christian faith.
All healthy families need to get together from time to time - to celebrate all that is good, to strengthen family ties, to speak frankly, to reflect on the past and think about the future…and that is why we are here in Jerusalem…and why we hope you will “join” us in whatever way you can.