Ruth Gledhill reports that the plan to be hatched at GAFCON is an orthodox Anglican Fellowship to be a “church within a church” in the Anglican Communion and a safe home for orthodox Anglicans. The tenor of Archbishop Akinola’s opening address seems to confirm that direction.
Although in my more tempestuous moments, I might prefer an outright split, I think this a good direction to go. I’m even a little excited at the possibility of being a part of worldwide orthodox Anglican church along with the Reformed Episcopal Church.
Now there is a little voice inside my head saying, “’A church within a church’ – that’s been tried before – repeatedly.” But I will dare to suggest things are different this time. This will be a group that has limits to their tolerance. Most GAFCON bishops will not be at Lambeth for one thing. Gledhill reports an Anglican Fellowship won’t be in communion with the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada for another. And most of these bishops are not afraid to call out apostates as ++Akinola boldly did in his address. Anglican Fellowship bishops will be of tougher stuff than “Windsor bishops.”
It also helps that an Anglican Fellowship will have the ballast of staunchly orthodox national churches, such as the Churches of Nigeria and Uganda. Most of the Anglican Fellowship won’t be under constant pressure from their churches to compromise and give in. In addition, it will include churches that have already proven they will not compromise the Faith for unity, churches such as the REC.
At the same time, it is good not to burn bridges. It is probably wise that most of the Anglican Fellowship will retain links with Canterbury for now at least. Reform of Canterbury and of the Anglican Communion is certainly not beyond God’s power, particularly given that the successor to the current Archbishop of Canterbury is likely to be an improvement. (That’s not saying much, but hey . . . .) And if an Anglican Fellowship were to cut links from Canterbury immediately, it would further split orthodox Anglicans as many do want to retain communion with Canterbury. And it would make the fellowship much smaller and less of an influence. So, as out of communion with Canterbury as I am*, I do think it wise that an Anglican Fellowship hold its nose and not cut itself off from that ancient Anglican see.
In any case, I continue to pray for God’s grace and guidance upon GAFCON. I invite you to join me.
*I’ve calmed down a bit since the linked post of last Fall. But I am still very much not in communion with ++Canterbury.