GAFCON: Anglican Split

Banana Split (c Bron Marshall)Well, the declaration is published, and the initial analysis is flowing in. The primates attending the Global Anglican Future CONference have decided to form a ‘fellowship of confessing Anglicans’, which may or may not recognize Canterbury and the leaders of the Episcopal Churches in the US and Canada.

The fellowship has defined itself doctrinally, holding on to the 39 Articles and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. It has also sought to create its own Primates Council to act as doorkeepers to who’s in and who’s out of the new club…

What does all this mean? Well, at this stage we don’t know, and we probably won’t until after Lambeth, and the reactions of all the Bishops who weren’t in Jerusalem this week. But the seeds are there for the creation of a whole new Anglican Church: a full on schism, even if that is not a word being used at present.

Will it go that far? Well Dr Peter Jensen, the Archbishop of Sydney (and one of the declaration signatories) certainly seems to be hoping that it won’t, but the commentators seem less sure. Riazat Butt at the Guardian seems to have already declared schism; Ruth Gledhill at The Times is saying something similar (albeit slightly modified). Paul Handley, the Church Times‘ man at GAFCON is the most consolatory at this point, but things really don’t look too good…

Will this ‘church within a church’ manage to stay within the Communion? That is certainly the stated intention, but its hard to see this going down well at Lambeth. All we can really do at this point is wait, hope, and pray… 

UPDATE: Ruth Gledhill has just posted the Archbishop of Canterbury’s response, which is worth reading.

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