The revision of the Scottish Episcopal Church’s marriage canons to permit same-sex weddings was among the first topics addressed yesterday at the meeting of primates in Canterbury.
No official reports of the proceedings have been released by conference organizers, and an official communique detailing their work will be released on 6 Oct 2017. However Anglican Ink has learned the GAFCON block of primates are pleased the meeting has taken up the divisions within the communion over same-sex marriage.
Sources within the meeting tell Anglican Ink the Scottish question was raised. No actions or decisions were taken, but a full and frank discussion was held. At the close of the first day, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Michael Curry, led the primates in prayer for the victims of the Las Vegas shooting at Evensong.
Among their first items of business was a letter of condolence to the Episcopal Bishop of Nevada, the Rt. Rev. Dan Edwards in the wake of the mass shooting that left 59 dead and at least 527 injured Sunday night when Stephen Paddock rained gunfire on concertgoers in Las Vegas.
Four GAFCON primates are not present: the Primate of Nigeria, the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh; Rwanda, the Most Rev. Onesphore Rwaje; Uganda, the Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali; and Tanzania, the Most Rev. Jacob Chimeledya. Nigeria, Uganda and Rwanda had announced before the start of the meeting that they would not be coming. It is not known if Tanzania’s no-show was due to travel difficulties or if he will be staying away.
At a press conference held on 3 October 2017, the Rev. Canon Andrew Gross — the on site spokesman for the conservative coalition of archbishops — enumerated the concerns GAFCON and the Global South coalition had brought to the meeting. He told reporters he had no knowledge of the discussions underway, but stated that going into the meeting the goal of the conservative primates was for those who had torn the fabric of the church by authorizing same-sex marriage to repent.
Canon Gross said the conservative primates, drawn from Africa, Asia, the Indian subcontinent and South America, saw the primates meetings as an opportunity for spiritual refreshment and renewal, but their experience had been that they came to “navigate through minefields” and that the battles they were facing were a “tremendous distraction” from their true work. “What GAFCON would like to see [was] authentic Christian fellowship not sidelined by issues clearly decided by Scripture.”
He outlined the history of division over the past decades within the Communion on issues surrounding human sexuality, concluding with the failure of the London-based instruments of communion to honor the agreements reached by the 2016 primates meeting. Canon Gross offered a harsh appraisal of the current Archbishop of Canterbury’s attempts to find a solution saying the reconciliation process mediated by Coventry Cathedral was biased and founded upon non-Biblical principles.
He noted the agreement reached at the last primates meeting to monitor the Episcopal Church’s compliance with the primates’ requests had been altered after the fact by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the staff of the Anglican Consultative Council. Asked if the GAFCON primates would “walk out” if their demands were not met, Canon Gross said that decision would be made after “prayerful consideration” and he would not speculate as to what might happen.