Conservative Anglicans launched on Sunday a new global fellowship charged with defending traditional Anglicanism against the “false gospel” of homosexuality being promoted within liberal western member churches of the Anglican Communion.
In a statement issued after the closure of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) in Jerusalem on Sunday, 300 conservative Anglican leaders from some of the world's largest Anglican provinces agreed on plans for a council of primates to oversee the new GAFCON movement and for the formation of a separate province in North America.
The Archbishop of Sydney, the Most Rev. Peter Jensen, said that the Primates’ council would regulate the “chaos” within the 77 million-member Anglican Communion and “defend the Gospel … from revisionist or liberal theologies.”
They also stated their intention to continue offering pastoral oversight to conservative parishes stranded within liberal member churches of the Anglican Communion.
Although the volunteer “fellowship of confessing Anglicans” will maintain official ties with the Archbishop of Canterbury, leaders challenged the Communion's leadership by stating that Anglicanism was not “determined necessarily through recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury.”
In the statement, the leaders blamed the present crisis within the Anglican Communion on the “false gospel” being taught in liberal provinces.
“This false gospel undermines the authority of God’s Word written and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the author of salvation from sin, death and judgment,” they stated.
“Many of its proponents claim that all religions offer equal access to God and that Jesus is only a way, not the way, the truth and the life. It promotes a variety of sexual preferences and immoral behavior as a universal human right,” they continued. “It claims God’s blessing for same-sex unions over against the biblical teaching on holy matrimony.”
This false gospel, the leaders added, had led to the U.S. Episcopal Church’s consecration of the openly gay Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003, which had widened rifts in the global Communion – the third largest church body in the world. The move was denounced last Friday by Archbishop Peter Jensen of Australia as “an extraordinary strategic blunder.”
The GAFCON statement further stated, “We grieve for the spiritual decline in the most economically developed nations, where the forces of militant secularism and pluralism are eating away the fabric of society and churches are compromised and enfeebled in their witness."
The leaders stressed, however, that they wanted to remain within the Anglican Communion.
“We cherish our Anglican heritage and the Anglican Communion and have no intention of departing from it. And we believe that, in God’s providence, Anglicanism has a bright future in obedience to our Lord’s Great Commission to make disciples of all nations and to build up the church on the foundation of biblical truth (Matthew 28:18-20; Ephesians 2:20),” they stated.
Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola, at the forefront of the conservative Anglican movement, said that the new fellowship was not “a church within a church.”
At a news conference after GAFCON’s conclusion, he affirmed, “We are part of the worldwide church called the Anglican Communion.”