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GAFCON Update from Bishop Jim: Final Reflections

After a few days of recovery and reflection, here are some final thoughts about GAFCON 2018 in Jerusalem.

1. From the overall experience (worship, teaching, fellowship, networking, etc.), I believe that Gafcon is a vibrant, global missional movement. To see African, Asian, and Latin American leadership was thrilling. Colonialism is over and the fruit of sacrificial mission work has fully matured, producing more sacrificial mission. Awe-inspiring! God is using the crisis in the Anglican Communion to forge a missional movement led by the Global South.

2. The final statement from Gafcon, "Letter to the Churches," is excellent. It was heartening to see that the process of drafting and revision based on international feedback produced a much improved final draft that expressed clearly and positively the missional heart of the movement. Here's a link to the statement:  www.anglicanchurch.net/?/main/page/1682. The titles of the sections gives a good overview of its content.

  • Proclaiming God's Gospel
  • Reforming God's Church
  • Reaching Out to God's World
  • Our Global Anglican Future

3. The question of whether Gafcon will be part of the Anglican Communion in the future came up occasionally. As I pondered the question, I realized that much of what we think of as the normative structures of the Anglican Communion (Archbishop of Canterbury, Anglican Consultative Council, Lambeth Conference, and the Primates' Meeting) are all very recent. The first Lambeth Conference occured in 1867. The ACC was formed in 1968; and the Primates' Meeting began in 1978. In fact, until the 18th c. "Anglican" simply meant "Church of England" because that's all there was.

So, if parts of the Gafcon movement (like the ACNA) are not recognized by all of the Anglican Communion establishment, does that mean that they are not Anglican?

Well, Gafcon shares an Anglican heritage rooted in 5th - 8th c. Celtic mission movement, during which the Gospel was proclaimed through the British Isles, Europe and Scandanavia (and beyond).

Gafcon shares an Anglican heritage rooted in the 16th c. English reformation that declared the primacy of Scripture's authority, held on to a deep sense of catholicity (i.e. in the sense of recovering and adhering to "the faith once delivered to the saints.), and developed a magnificent vernacular liturgy that became the heart of the Church.

Gafcon shares an Anglican heritage rooted in the global mission movement of the 18th and 19th c. Women and men sailed to the ends of the earth trusting in the goodness of God and the power of the Gospel. The seeds bearing fruit in the Gafcon movement were often watered with the blood of the missionary martyrs who sowed them.

Gafcon shares an Anglican heritage rooted in 20th c. renewal movements. Revivals and awakenings on every continent rekindled a passion for God, for study of His Word, for holiness, and for mission. Whether it was Wesley's and Whitefield's evangelical revival, the East Africa Revival, or the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement, Gafcon has been deeply shaped by powerful moves of God's Spirit.

So, is Gafcon Anglican? Maybe the real question is, will the structures of the Anglican Communion allow themselves to be shaped and restored by the movements of God that are our Anglican heritage.

I am looking forward to seeing how God uses Gafcon to proclaim Christ faithfully to the nations.

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