A New Day for Anglicanism

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - Revival in the Anglican Church? The Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), which met in Jerusalem last week, revealed that a new day has arisen for the global Anglican Communion.

Twelve hundred top orthodox leaders, representing millions of evangelical Anglicans worldwide, met on a pilgrimage seeking the Lord for the future of the Global Anglican Church --seeking a response to the "Anglican Crisis."

What is the Anglican Crisis?

Over the past decade, the words "gay marriage" and "same sex blessing" have been at the forefront of liberal Anglican theological discussion in North America. And while media coverage and the North American Anglican liberal majority have attempted to make homosexuality the central issue of progressive Anglicanism, orthodox Anglicans have stepped forward to clarify that it is the authority of scripture, and faithfulness to Jesus, that is the heart of the issue.

The "Anglican Crisis" is primarily a Western/North American crisis. The region represents the minority of the global Anglican Communion, but they have still had the power to tamper with ancient Anglican doctrine. When the Archbishop of Canterbury failed to respond to rampant defiant and disobedient practices of the West, foundation-shaking rumblings were sent across the global Communion.

In a press release on Christmas 2007, orthodox bishops and clergy, representing 30 million of the 55 million Anglicans worldwide, released the statement announcing the Global Anglican Future Conference: A Gospel of Power and Transformation.

While some have been hostile to the assembly of these pilgrims due to the fact that the conference was established as an alternative to the Lambeth Conference (a meeting of bishops every 10 years, which has governed the decisions of the Anglican Church for the past 300 years), many others were encouraged that the unity and voice of the orthodox majority finally came to life in the city of their Savior.

Why Jerusalem?

Bishop Robert Duncan, moderator of the Common Cause North America, opened the pre-conference event with an address called Anglicanism Come of Age: A Post-Colonial and Global Communion for the the 21st Century.

"We have come to reclaim our roots," he said. "We want to tell story clearly in our time, without loss or compromise in translation or transmission…without individually or corporately getting in the way of the story."

Jerusalem is the place where the new covenant story began. Where the Messiah came to give his life for Jew and gentile, where the Holy Spirit empowered the first disciples, where the Good News of Jesus went out to the nations.

Coming to Jerusalem represents for GAFCON pilgrims a return to the foot of the cross where Jesus offered grace and redemption to all people.

Implications for Mainstream Christianity in North America

The ears of evangelical Christians in North America are perking up to this movement because the crisis at hand is not exclusively Anglican. It is one that confronts the entire North American post-modern Church.

In the words of Archbishop Peter Jensen speaking to Christianity Today, "The convulsions which are striking Anglicans, if they have not reached your mainstream denomination, will do so without a doubt." "…This is an absolutely essential effort for us, for every evangelical no matter how pure a denomination they may think they occupy."

Where to Go from Here

Now that GAFCON's final statement has been released, North American reps feel that they can finally move forward. In a phone interview with CBN News, Bishop Don Harvey, moderator of the Anglican Network in Canada, spoke about the emotional intensity and the ups and downs of the past four years in Canada. He said the road has been difficult, but that "We have come out of this with our heads up high…now knowing that all we have invested has been worth it."

In the same spirit, the Venerable Charlie Masters, general secretary of the Common Cause North America, spoke with CBN News and confessed the same feelings of affirmation and even relief. He said that when the first draft of the GAFCON statement was read aloud, "the feeling in the hall was electric with excitement and clapping."

With a tired voice Masters described the difficult uphill journey that led them to this gathering in Jerusalem and that unexpected tears had caught him off guard at the release of the statement. He said "all we had been praying and longing for had been validated." His joy stemmed from the fact that the statement flowed directly from the Gospel.

***

The Global Anglican Future Conference: A Gospel of Power and Transformation, has called their church to just that. While liberal Anglicanism beckons "come as you are, and stay as you are," orthodox Anglicans have remained faithful to what they have been calling "the old, old story," to the Jesus who beckons "come as you are and be transformed and healed by the power of the Holy Spirit."

GAFCON in Jerusalem represents a significant awakening and softening of hearts in the Anglican Communion. It is not a schism, but a call to reformation; not a political power struggle with Lambeth, but a humble submission to Jesus and the scriptures.

Is revival coming to the Anglican Communion? Quite possibly.

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Erica Whate

Erica Whate

CBN News Guest Writer

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