Gafcon Update 2 - There's no one like Jesus

Monday 18th June
Philip writes:

“There is no one, no one like Jesus” - this is a wonderful swahili song we sang today led by an amazing Nigerian choir.

I have met brothers and sisters in Christ today from around the world. Abraham is the Registrar for the Church of Nigeria; David an ex-military, Harley riding Canadian who is being ordained later this year; Pete Tong, an Asian Australian who teaches at Moore College in Sydney; Paul who is the dean of Texas and leads the largest church in the ACNA whose auditorium is bigger than the conference centre; Tom from Canada whose congregation had their church building taken from them they left the Canadian church. Then I sat down and the lovely Ugandan next to meet turned out to be Archbishop Stanley Ntagali. Oh, and I met up with James de Costobadie who is Emma’s godfather and a vicar in Christchurch New Zealand and who is in the process of leaving the denomination because it has departed from scripture.

This is the wonder of the gospel that unites all types and sorts of people under the lordship of Christ so that he becomes the universe’s VIP (Remember we looked at God’s plan for the world in Ephesians 1v10 last May...) There truly is no-one like Jesus. Here were faithful ministers from around the globe doing just what we do in Fowey, seeking to live for Jesus and speak for Jesus distinctively and attractively where the Lord has placed them. It immediately felt like ‘home’, perhaps because it is a little glimpse of what home will really be like in the new creation. The commitment is the same and the commission shared.

That said, it’s not been an easy day with clear challenges from scripture and from the stories around the world of the cost of being faithful to the historic orthodox biblical gospel - which is, of course, what authentic Anglicanism should be.

Archbishop Dr Alfred Olwa from Lango in Uganda expounded Luke’s account of Jesus’ 5 trials before the council, Pilate and Herod. He highlighted how Pilate sought to duck the issues, not least because he feared the crowd, “Some people fear the jeering of the crowd more than the judgement of God”.

GAFCON chairman, Nigerian Archbishop Nicholas Okoh challenged us from Romans 1v1-6 to stand firm for the authentic apostolic gospel, “It is either God’s gospel or no gospel.” “If we walk together with those who deny the orthodox faith, in word or deed, we have agreed that orthodoxy is optional.”

And so, this afternoon, we heard from those who have indeed refused to, “…walk together with those who deny the orthodox faith” and who paid the practical, physical, spiritual, emotional, pastoral, relational and financial cost of doing so. It was inspirational as we heard stories of churches from USA, Brazil, New Zealand, Canada, and Scotland, each seeking faithfully to proclaim Christ, suffering for it and finding a home in GAFCON. It was also exceptionally moving, as each nation completed their tale, when the whole conference affirmed them as true Anglicans for their confessional stance and courageous witness. It is why GAFCON is so needed and valued around the globe, bringing together Anglicans in Biblical truth rather than organisational, or institutional but compromised, structures.

The conference liturgy includes the acclamation “We will proclaim - Response: Christ faithfully to the nations.” The Africans punched the air as we said it.

with much love from Jerusalem
 

Gafcon Update 1 - the Anglican Family

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.