Conservatives Organize Separate Meeting on Future of Anglicans

Conservative members of the Anglican Communion who oppose the U.S. Episcopal Church and its liberal attitude to issues like homosexuality are planning to hold their own meeting on the future of the worldwide Communion.

The meeting is scheduled for July 15-22, 2008, just before the Lambeth Conference which gathers Anglican leaders worldwide every 10 years.

Both liberals and conservatives within the Communion have threatened to boycott the Lambeth meeting over who was invited and who was not. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams recently affirmed that he did not change his mind about refusing an invitation to Martyn Minns, a conservative U.S. priest who was consecrated as a bishop in the Anglican Church of Nigeria to lead Episcopalians who disaffiliated from The Episcopal Church. He also said his decision not to extend an invitation to openly gay bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire still stands.

The consecration of Robinson in 2003 had heightened controversy in the Anglican Communion. The move has brought the Anglican Communion close to schism.

Since then, and under pressure from traditional Anglican provinces who oppose homosexuality as a sin, The Episcopal Church has pledged to "exercise restraint" in its pro-gay stance.

Many conservatives, however, are still not satisfied, saying that The Episcopal Church has yet to show true repentance.

Orthodox Anglican leaders, representing over 30 million Anglicans in the Communion, have organized the Global Anglican Future Conference in an effort to affirm traditional Anglican faith.

"Rather than being subject to the continued chaos and compromise that have dramatically impeded Anglican mission, GAFCON will seek to clarify God's call at this time and build a network of cooperation for Global mission," said Southern Cone Primate Gregory Venables.

Participants of the orthodox meeting said that it designed to take the place of the Lambeth Conference.

"While this conference is not a specific challenge to the Lambeth Conference, it will provide opportunities for fellowship and care for those who have decided not to attend Lambeth," said Canon Chris Sugden.

Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney Diocese said the orthodox conference's aim "is to draw Biblical Anglican Christians together for urgent consultation."

"[I]t is a meeting which accepts the current reality of a Communion in disarray over fundamental issues of the gospel and biblical authority," he added. "It therefore seeks to plan for a future in which Anglican Christians world-wide will increasingly be pressured to depart from the biblical norms of behavior and belief."

Meanwhile, Williams has warned those who have threatened not to attend the Lambeth Conference.

"I have said that the refusal to meet can be a refusal of the cross - and so of the Resurrection," he said. "We are being asked to see our handling of conflict and potential division as part of our maturing both as pastors and as disciples. I do not think this is either an incidental matter or an evasion of more basic questions."

GAFCON is set to take place at the Holy Land as orthodox Anglicans try to go back to the roots of Christian faith, which conservatives contend liberals have departed from.

Christian Post reporter Lillian Kwon contributed to this report.

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