Mere Anglicanism

GAFCON III opens in Jerusalem

Largest Pan-Anglican gathering since 1963 sees 2000 Anglicans gather in Jerusalem

The third meeting of the Global Anglican Fellowship Conference (GAFCON) opened with a high degree of excitement this morning at the Binyenei HaUma (Jerusalem International Conference Center) in the Giv’at Ram district of West Jerusalem. Meeting under the theme “‘Proclaiming Christ faithfully to the nations” the gathering of almost 2000 delegates from approximately 50 countries will focus on the issues of mission and the authority of scripture during their 18-25 June 2018 gathering.

The members of the Archbishops’ primates council of GAFCON as well as conference organizers and section leaders had arrived over the the previous week, to pray, discuss the aims and scope of the conference and the future of the global Anglican reform movement, which was launched at 2008’s GAFCON I in Jerusalem.

The conference had an unofficial public airing on Sunday 17 June 2018 as the primates and many delegates packed Christ Church Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem’s old city for Sunday worship. The overflow crowd led the Rev. David Pileggi, the rector of Christ Church to conduct a second, simultaneous service led by his curate outside the church after all of its seats were filled.

Organizers of the conference told Anglican Ink the purpose of GAFCON III was not to propose legislation or issue statements — though a final communique would be released at the close of the gathering on Friday — but to reinforce the bonds of fellowship of Anglican Christians from six continents and work for the growth, renewal and reform of the church.

The opening day crowds reflected a diversity of peoples and cultures — whose dress ranged from white haired bishops wrapped in purple cassocks, African matriarchs adorned with colorful dresses and head clothes, somber suited Anglo-Catholic priests, wooly English clerics sporting thick socks and sandals, young women in Wall Street power suits, and goatee trimmed tattoo adorned youth ministers dressed in skinny jeans and flannel shirts.

The Church of Uganda brought 260 delegates to the meeting, with the Church of Nigeria, the Anglican Church in North America and the Diocese of Sydney fielding large delegations, with half a dozen clergy and lay leaders (and one bishop, the Rt. Rev. William Love of Albany) coming from the Episcopal Church of the USA.

At the start of the gathering the organizers reported the archbishops present at GAFCON III represented churches that comprised 71 per cent of the active membership of the Anglican Communion. The statistics reported by GAFCON, based upon figures provided by the Global Center for Christianity in Boston, undercounted it true share of the global Anglican market, as it excluded dioceses like Sydney or individuals in provinces that had not affiliated.

The program for the week given to delegates as they arrived, divided the working day into Bible studies, worship, plenary meetings, special interest seminars with tours to the sites of the city interspersed through the week.

Spirits were high as the week began. Though some expressed a desire for the conference to provide solutions to the issues of doctrine and discipline that have divided the Anglican Communion, many participants appeared to be overcome with excitement at being in Jerusalem and being part of the largest gathering of bishops, clergy and lay people since the 1963 Pan-Anglican Congress in Toronto.

 

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