Monday 19th June
“Forward. Always forward. Everywhere forward!”
Yesterday I bumped into a very old friend who I haven’t seen for over 20 years, Dr Ashley Null who is a hugely eminent church historian and leading scholar on Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. I first met Ashley when I was a ‘vicar factory’ in Cambridge. Amongst other things he taught me how to conduct a funeral, helping me hugely with the very first I led. He is leading a seminar tomorrow on the work of the Holy Spirit in justification, faith, assurance and holy living and I’ll be there, not just for old time’s sake, but because his input usually has both depth and profound application.
Ashley introduced me to Archbishop Foley Beach who is the presiding bishop of the recently formed Anglican province of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). He has galvanised his province with the strap line, “Forward. Always forward. Everywhere forward!” And there is a tangible sense of that energy and drive throughout the conference.
Tonight the UK delegation heard from 4 Myanmar bishops who work against the background of civil war and the chaos of internally displaced people (like the Rohinja mulisms who have been in the news). Their dioceses are vast and resources scarce but their love for the Lord Jesus and passion to proclaim him faithfully is palpable. Likewise the vision of Ben who trains pastors in Kenya or Amos who is both radio presenter and youth worker as well as local church pastor, both working with little but totally focussed, determined and all out for Jesus and his people. That we are part of this through the worldwide Gafcon family is immensely humbling. It may be tough in the Uk because of increasing secularism, but it seems it is tough everywhere, maybe in different ways, but still tough. But that is why we need each other and the spontaneous support and appreciation of one another as stories are shared is a tremendous spur to keep on keeping on with proclaiming Christ however we can with whatever resources we have.
Why? Well as Richard Coekin from Co-mission in London reminded us this morning in a brilliant exposition of Jesus’ crucifixion from Luke 23, it is because of the amazing grace of God in the cross of Christ. Simply, it is because God loves us. If you only watch or listen to one thing from the conference, listen to Richard’s talk (https://vimeo.com/275840456) as he unpacks the wonder of that love revealed a the cross and draws out 4 key implications for our mission as we seek to proclaim Christ - and him crucified - faithfully to Fowey
with love from Jerusalem.