Charles Raven reports on the progress of the GAFCON networks
One of the most significant steps forward taken at our great assembly in Jerusalem last June was to launch nine global networks to equip faithful Anglicans around the world to ‘proclaim Christ faithfully to the nations’.
Since then, there has been a bubbling up of activity as people act on the vision we committed ourselves to at GAFCON 2018. Many are planning their own conferences before GAFCON 2023, some annually, and there is already exciting evidence of growth on the ground.
I think of recent news; a Congolese member of the Global Mission Partnerships network joyfully reports that twenty-four people were converted as he preached at an open-air mission. And the new Gafcon-endorsed province of the Anglican Church in Brazil has just planted another church with over 200 people, this time in the city of Natal, the second since June. The fire is spreading!
The networks are forming strong relational links, being equipped for global ministry and taking initiatives. The Church Planting network members join together for a monthly video conference and the Global Mission Partnerships network played a key role in a Mission Festival which cemented a mission partnership between the Anglican Church in North America’s Diocese of New England and the Anglican Church of Kenya with Archbishop Ole Sapit of Kenya in attendance.
The way in which the networks are developing demonstrates how the maturing global fellowship of confessing Anglicans is expanding its ministry. The Bishops Training Institute, which has been so helpful in developing an international network of faithful bishops, has its base in Nairobi and the most recent conference held earlier this month also for the first time included bishops’ wives.
The Sustainable Development network is also based in Nairobi. It has developed an exciting strategy for the next five years and we are in the process of securing an office there which will also serve as a Gafcon hub for East Africa and beyond. Nairobi is also the planned venue for a meeting of the Women in Ministry network next year.
The networks have a vital role in resourcing and strengthening gospel witness. The Youth and Children’s network are preparing a soon-to-be-launched online portal for teaching and outreach resources, while the Lawyers network is assisting those in New Zealand who can no longer in conscience continue within the old Anglican structures as they develop a new and faithful expression of Anglican ministry. It has formed an ‘Exit Issues’ working group to assist in such cases, as well as groups advising on religious liberty and Anglican identity.
It is of course possible for networks formed amidst the enthusiasm of an international conference to subsequently become little more than a page on a website, but it is already clear that a better story is emerging about the Gafcon networks. Many have ambitious plans and as Network Director I am continually encouraged by the realisation that what lies behind the commitment of the leaders and members is the power of the gospel of God itself.
Those who have decided that the future of the Communion can only be secured through compromise may reap short term benefits of funding and secular toleration, but the future belongs to those who seek to be faithful to God the giver of life, whose Holy Spirit continually wells up within his church.