In Jerusalem, conservatives stage an ecclesiastical coup.
By Travis Kavulla
Jerusalem — The future of the Anglican Communion, the third largest Christian church in the world, has been in serious doubt since the 2003 election of Gene Robinson, an openly gay cleric, to be bishop of New Hampshire.
This week, some of that uncertainty is being resolved. The Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) convened in Jerusalem on Sunday, drawing 1,200 conservative Anglicans, including 304 bishops. One of their number, Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda, describes the event as “the beginning of a second reformation.”
Immediately in advance of the gathering, conservative church leaders issued a pamphlet entitled “The Way, the Truth, and the Life.” In it, they assert that on issues of sexuality the collective decisions by primates, as the leaders of the 38 Anglican provinces are known, have been “ignored” and conservatives “derided” and “demonized” by the U.S. Episcopal Church. “There is no longer any hope, therefore, for a unified communion,” the document proclaims.
GAFCON attendees have been reticent to use the word schism — they prefer “broken.” But this seems a preference without distinction. Most of those at GAFCON are boycotting the Lambeth Conference, the once-a-decade gathering on doctrinal matters — deemed “an instrument of unity” in Anglican theology — which will be held next month in Canterbury, the ancient seat of the Church of England. One of the pamphlet’s authors, the Oxford theologian Rev. Roger Beckwith, says that the move puts Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury and nominal head of the global communion, “in an impossible position.”
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