Anglicans: historic shift in power to GAFCON
by Danielle Martell
Many people have never considered the possibility that one day the Anglican Church would undergo a power shift away from Canterbury and move to GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference). For 500 years the Anglican Church has been firmly rooted under the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury. However, the western church has faced tumultuous times due to secular, liberal thinking that infiltrates the church with a false gospel on a whole host of biblical issues including the dignity of human life, human sexuality, gender, and marriage. For faithful Anglicans who remain committed to upholding the teachings of God’s word, it has been disheartening to see secular thinking become the leading guide, over and above the scriptures in the church.
In the midst of this, many Anglicans have stood strong on the authority of the Scriptures. Sadly, as a result, they have faced heavy persecution. Bishop Ron Ferris, a bishop in the Anglican Network in Canada, says, “Many of us have lost our buildings. We’ve been evicted from the ministries of the liberal churches. We’ve wondered if we could reconstruct our faith communities.”
This problem stretches beyond Canada to include the Anglican western church at large. As a result, a global shift in power is currently underway and unless something dramatically changes at Canterbury, GAFCON will assume the future leadership of the Anglican church.
Ferris, who lives in Langley, BC, has taken part in maintaining and setting precedence in the global Anglican church on the biblical standard for marriage. His subsection at Lambeth 1998 (a global Anglican leaders’ conference) drafted resolution I.10. It passed with overwhelming support while essentially specifying that marriage is “between a man and a woman in a faithful lifelong union, and that homosexual practice [is] incompatible with scripture,” calling also upon the church “to minister sensitively and compassionately to people of all orientations.”
Ferris recently attended the GAFCON conference in Jerusalem. He explains some of the current dynamics within the global Anglican communion. He says, “GAFCON is a gathering of the majority of the global Anglicans around the world. It represents about 70 percent of Anglicans and about 360 bishops, which is almost half of the bishops in the world and they are committed to orthodox faith and teaching. As they said in their statement, ‘the Christian faith is under attack, both from within the church and from outside the church.’ [For] a clear, clarion witness unequivocally for the teachings of scripture and for traditional Christian beliefs on marriage and for traditional Christian values, [GAFCON’s] witness is extremely important.”
The growth of GAFCON has been significant. With its beginnings in 2008, the conference recently hosted nearly 2000 delegates. Ferris says, “this indicates that basically the leadership is shifting away from Britain and North America and towards Africa. The largest Anglican churches in the world are in Africa, and Nigeria has perhaps 25 million members. It makes… [Nigeria] by far the largest Anglican church in the world. Anglicans typically are young. They’re black and they live in Africa. We also have sizable churches in Asia. And so, what we call the Global South, these churches of Asia and Africa are now assuming the leadership of the world. Part of the challenge… to the Archbishop of Canterbury is, it’s important for him and for the Church of England to uphold a traditional, scriptural faith and teaching and morality or the leadership of the communion will shift to the GAFCON movement and away from Canterbury.”
GAFCON recently wrote a ‘Letter to the Churches’ dated June 22, 2018. In the letter is an encouragement to Archbishop Welby to respond in a biblical and orthodox manner, looking to him to rise to the occasion and lead the church in godly orthodoxy under the authority of God’s holy word.
If he doesn’t, there likely will be a power shift and 70 percent of the global, biblically orthodox Anglicans will submit to God’s word under the leadership of GAFCON. To read the ‘Letter to the Churches’ visit GAFCON’s website at www.gafcon.org.
Commenting on the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, Ferris says, “I think it’s going to be difficult for him. I think the Church of England, and most churches in North America, are badly compromised and highly divided.
Danielle Martell is the Priest in Charge at St. Andrew’s Anglican church in Tsawwassen, BC.