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Duncan & Wabakula

GAFCON – true Anglican Communion?


GAFCON 2013 is over, and their Communique and Commitment is out. It may be premature to parse this document, but I will risk some early reflection and possible scenarios.

The Anglican Communion has “instruments of communion” binding it together: primarily (and the only one, for example, formally recognised by my province) the Archbishop of Canterbury. Some GAFCONites have abandoned the understanding of the Archbishop of Canterbury as the primary instrument of communion, (“You don’t have to go through Canterbury to be an Anglican.” GAFCON General Secretary, Archbishop Peter Jensen, on the first day of GAFCON2013).

Now the communique is crystal clear:

We believe we [GAFCON] have acted as an important and effective instrument of Communion during a period in which other instruments of Communion have failed both to uphold gospel priorities in the Church, and to heal the divisions among us.

GAFCON understands itself as an effective instrument of Communion of the Anglican Communion in a way that the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Anglican Consultative Council, the Lambeth Conference, and the Primates’ Meeting have not been. In fact GAFCON has its own “Primates’ Council”.

GFCA has been instrumental in the emergence of the new Province of the Anglican Church in North America, giving formal recognition to its orders and welcoming it as a full partner province, with its Archbishop having a seat on the Primates’ Council.

The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), of course, is not a member of the Anglican Communion from the (ineffective) Archbishop of Canterbury’s perspective. But it is a member from the (effective) GAFCON perspective. And to GAFCON The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada {member churches of the Anglican Communion from the (ineffective) Archbishop of Canterbury’s perspective} are organisations promoting a false gospel. ACNA is the true Anglican Communion presence in TEC’s and ACoC’s territories.

Duncan & WabakulaTo press the point home, one of the most popular images from GAFCON 2013 is of the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of North America concelebrating directly next to the Primate of Kenya, and that at a service at which the Archbishop of Canterbury preached – just in case he might miss the point. [For a while, non-present GAFCON-sympathetic friends insisted that Archbishop Duncan had merely helped distribute communion; they themselves were possibly as blinded to the possibility of such concelebration happening in a service in which the Archbishop of Canterbury had such a prominent place].

Let me do some other helicopter landings through this communique:

…we have resolved to be more than a network…

Examples of work we wish to resource …supporting a network of theological colleges …Authorising and affirming faithful Anglicans who have been excluded by their diocese or province. The main thrust of work here would be devoted to discerning the need for new provinces, dioceses and churches — and then authenticating their ministries and orders as Anglican.

…we shall organise around a Primates’ Council, a Board of Trustees, an Executive Committee and regional liaison officers, who will be involved in fostering communication among FCAs.

We must, therefore, invite provinces, dioceses, mission agencies, local congregations and individuals formally to become contributing members of the GFCA. In particular, we ask provinces to reconsider their support for those Anglican structures that are used to undermine biblical faithfulness and contribute instead, or additionally, to the financing of the GFCA’s on-going needs….

our movement must be committed to…The Jerusalem Statement’s expectation that the Primates’ Council would intervene to provide ‘orthodox oversight to churches under false leadership’, the Primates’ Council will carefully consider working beyond existing structures as an obedient response to Jesus’ commission to take the gospel to all nations…

For this reason, the bishops at GAFCON 2013 resolved ‘to affirm and endorse the position of the Primates’ Council in providing oversight in cases where provinces and dioceses compromise biblical faith, including the affirmation of a duly discerned call to ministry. This may involve ordination and consecration if the situation requires.’

Possible (probable?) scenarios – with a local focus

  • The Archbishop of Canterbury will respond. The position of the Archbishop of Canterbury has been seriously challenged. His response mentions that all of us fall short of God’s will. Recognition of shortcomings will be acknowledged. Bible quotes will be appropriately chosen. GAFCONites say it is too little and too late.
  • Progress at General Synod Te Hinota Whanui 2014 will be slower than the momentum appeared to be gaining in 2012 on questions of blessing committed same-sex couples, marrying same-sex couples, and declaring “chaste” individuals in same-sex relationships for the purposes of ordination and licensing. But ultimately this province will make those decisions in whole or in parts – and the decisions will be the opposite of those of this communique.
  • The sanguine attitudes to our liturgical mess will be sorely tested, as first ecclesiastical tribunals are called to sit, and then secular courts begin to be drawn in, as the church’s laissez-faire culture clashes with Parliamentary Acts, and property and finance issues begin to get traction.
  • The church’s lack of legal precision, (already being tested in earthquake-ravaged Christchurch diocese) over who actually owns the property and the funds, start getting some real testing in the courts. The bemused looks of superiority at USA church court battles begin to change. “We are all friends here. We all know each other. All clergy trained at the same theological college and learnt to live together with difference” gives way under the realisation that only 7% or so of the ordained actually go to St John’s Theological College, and the line in the sand was drawn about three decades ago and is not going to go away. Nelson Diocese may “secede” (or “continue to be faithful” depending on one’s perspective)? Large thriving parishes leave dioceses? Taking buildings, trust money, and central-diocesan-offices’ income with them from already financially-struggling, ageing, numerically-shrinking “official communion” dioceses? Court cases further strain finances – financed on one side by international and local GAFCON supporters.

Not a single one of these scenarios may end up happening. But the communique is clear: this wasn’t merely some conference where you could listen to some really cool speakers, do some thorough Bible study, and have some efficacious fellowship. This was affirming GAFCON/GFCA as the true Anglican Communion.

We await formal response(s) from our own bishops whose meeting (minus the Bishop of Nelson) and its agenda (about how to move forward) was revealed not by them, here, via our normal official communications, but by the Bishop of Nelson in Nairobi at GAFCON in the video below.

Nelson’s Bishop Richard Ellena speaks in a segment (and is presented in a video) entitled “The Lonely Church”.


If you found this post helpful, don’t forget to click “like” on the Facebook Liturgy Page, (there is also an RSS feed).

For those interested in seeing changes to earlier drafts of the communique, check here.

Other clergy in the Christchurch Diocese who have blogged about GAFCON: Rev. Dr. Peter Carrell and Fr Ron Smith.

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60 thoughts on “GAFCON – true Anglican Communion?”

  1. I think they are blowing smoke. Many of their bishops are in Indaba groups, or relationships with Anglican/Episcopal churches around the world – doing things together as Anglicans. Their day has passed.

  2. On one matter, Bosco, I think you misread possibilities for the future. I believe that the North American legal quagmire re buildings is a deterrent to those contemplating leaving (as a possible future response to change in our church) also contemplating taking buildings and property with them. As you know, in quake ravaged Chch, many churches are finding that church is possible (albeit difficult) in rented properties.

    Whether anyone does leave, I do not know, but I am willing to bet that should this occur, there will be no attempt to take buildings and property.

    The one reasonably obvious exception is that were the Diocese of Nelson to ‘secede’/’remain faithful’ I imagine it would presume to continue its ministry and mission in the buildings currently owned by its Trust Board. (For the record: I have no reason to think that secession is contemplated. I speak hypothetically.)

    I am happy to be guided by you or others but I cannot think of a canon in our church which would give General Synod the power to override the wishes of a Diocesan Trust Board re the ownership of buildings and property vested in that Board.

    1. Thanks, Peter.

      As I am clear – I am just suggesting some possible scenarios. Yours is another.

      I am trying to visualise your scenario: large, purpose built church buildings, office and meeting spaces, well-designed and able to hold hundreds for a thriving worshipping community whose members have given sacrificially to build such a mission-focused plant; as they “leave”, they walk away from a diocese that (also having lost the diocesan income from this thriving community) can neither fill it with new worshippers, nor afford to maintain it, nor find a useful other purpose for most of it. I can visualise a strong argument from those who have given sacrificially to “attempt to take buildings and property” rather than move (back to) difficult rented properties.


  3. Good point Bosco.
    But much could depend on ‘who’ would be leaving.
    If all leave a thriving church plant which the owning diocese cannot refill, I can imagine a Kiwi pragmatic scenario in which a reasonable deal is reached re new ownership, without recourse to the courts.

    But if only half the congregation leaves, I can imagine the leaving half wishing the remaining half well as they continue the use of the buildings.

  4. “This was affirming GAFCON/GFCA as the true Anglican Communion.”

    Bosco, this certainly wasn’t the impression I got as an attendee. I think you need to be careful about putting words into GAFCON or the GFCA’s mouth. GAFCON was affirming that it is a valid part oft the Anglican Communion – and whether in formal communion ith Canterbury or not, it’s constituents are thoroughly Anglican in their commitment to the 39 Articles, BCP and Ordinal. The constituents are committed to traditional expressions of Anglican worship and more importantly Anglican Doctrine.

    GAFCON is certainly charting its own path, just as TEC and Canada did.

    1. Thanks, Zane, especially commenting as an attendee.

      I am working from the communique – so there certainly is no intention on my part to put words into anyone’s mouth, and I have given the link for people to check right at the start. I also highlighted the risks in my early reflection. But let’s unpack your points:

      1) Is GAFCON an instrument of the Anglican Communion as the communique explicitly claims?
      2) Has it been the only effective instrument as the communique explicitly claims?
      3) Is the Anglican Church in North America in this communion as GAFCON understands it?
      4) Are TEC and ACoC full members of this communion as GAFCON understands it?

      I am also interested that, as the only attendee to comment, this is the line you sought to clarify and no other.

      I look forward to your responses.


      1. Hi Bosco,
        Thanks for your questions. First can I just say I sought to clarify that line encounter back to New Zealand on a fairly brief wait at Sydney Airport, so I haven’t yet had a chance to ruminate properly on all that you’ve posted above – I’ll try and find time to do so in the next few days.

        1) when the draft came out the various Provinces in attendance had their delegates met together to discuss the content, and suggest changes to the statement writing committee. GAFCON describing itself as an “instrument of Communion” was queried within the Oceania delegation. Obviously GAFCON is not one of the three recognised Instruments of Communion. The explanation we received was that the communique wasn’t using a capital I in reference to be an instrument of Communion, so we weren’t claiming some kind of back door entry to having been an officially recognised Instrument of Communion. However, in a practical sense GAFCON/GFCA has acted as a conduit for maintaining fellowship and connectedness for Anglicans who might have otherwise found themselves outside the Anglican tradition because they are holding to traditional Anglican doctrine (Think Recife, maybe even South Carolina).

        2. The ACC is a joke. It is not an effective IOC, the views of the majority of Anglicans are not represented fairly at the ACC. Lambeth is a joke. Resolutions passed the have had no impact on the current heterodoxy within TEC and ACoC. The ABC has not exercised discipline on Provinces who have moved from traditional Anglican doctrine on the person of Christ! Scripture and right sexual expression. We are still on the brink of disaster as a Communion, what have these IOC actually do e to help maintain unity and protect the Anglican faith apart from turn a blind eye to the behavior and practice of those who are creating a schism by shifting from our core doctrine? I’m not happy with the readiness to fly across Diocesan or Provincial boundaries, but doing so has been an effective way for some provinces, dioceses and individuals to stay in step with the traditional positions of their Church, I guess that makes it effective!

        Need to board a flight for Auckland now, hope to find time to respond fully later today.

        1. Thanks, Zane.

          Could you list what you call “the three recognised Instruments of Communion”, please. And “recognised” by whom? As I said, our province only formally recognises one, the Archbishop of Canterbury.


      2. Hi Bosco, back ow to answer your two other questions :

        3) GAFCON was pretty honest about the fact that the ACNA is not part of the official Anglican Communion,however the language was used which said that the ACNA was in communion with the GFCA, and the Primate’s Council. I guess if they are in communion these members that is good enough for GAFCON.

        4) obviously TEC and ACoC are still (ludicrously) full members of the Anglican Communion, however some time ago a number of Provinces declared they were out of Communion with TEC and ACoC and the Jerusalem Declaration says ‘We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed. We pray for them and call on them to repent and return to the Lord.’ Looks like a ‘no’ to answer question four!

        I have to say I am nervous about GFCA stepping away from the ABC, but a large part of the Communion has obviously lost confidence in the ability of the ability of the ABC to actually hold things together any longer.

        1. Sorry, Zane. I found them, following your comment, in a spam folder – the site’s systems sometimes has a mind of its own 🙂 So it’s up now and with a brief response from me. Blessings.

  5. “1) Is GAFCON an instrument of the Anglican Communion as the communique explicitly claims?”

    (Fr. Bosco, questioning assertions by Zane Elliot)

    Of course, as a delegate (certainly not an official delegate from any non-gafcon province), Mr Elliot undoubtedly has his own understanding of what was going on at the conference. No doubt, as one of the gafcon afficionadoes, he would like to be able to justify the stance he has taken on the seriousness of Gafcon’s claim to be ‘an instrument of the Anglican Communion’.

    However, as Gafcon does not have the official imprimatur of the existing Communion Instruments (mainly, the ACC) to represent them, This is a deliberate inversion of the truth. What Gafcon is, is no more, and no less, than a ginger group – of those primates who believe they have a more ‘orthodox’ position on the Bible, and on matters of gender and sexuality than other provinces in the Communion, whom they accuse of embracing what they are pleased to call ‘a false Gospel.

    Merely because the ‘Gafoon Primates’ have elected to separate our from the official Anglican Communion on these matters, and in the process. tried to attract other conservatives to their cause, does not give them the right to say that they are a ‘instrument of the Anglican Communion. Nor should it do so.

    1. Ron,
      You are wrong. You speak with self self righteous assurance of what I think! I I astounds me that you aren’t prepared to let me speak when you are so committed to ensuring dialogue with those who disagree with you.

      I am uncomfortable with GAFCON claiming to be an instrument of Communion, however I will stress that it has used a small i, not a capital i,

      GAFCON is not claiming to be an official Instrument of Communion, however it has acted effectively as an instrument on unity/communion for groups who would have been lost to Anglicanism otherwise.

      1. The culture of this site is to allow difference of opinion to be held and held strongly, without getting personal, and trying to focus on the points a person makes. I am concerned, Zane and Ron, if your discussion here gets to more heat than light eg. if language like “self-righteous assurance” starts to escalate. I’m happy for you to continue conversing here if it moves forward with care about that, otherwise I suggest that you contact each other privately to continue the conversation. There are, of course, plenty of other sites discussing this stuff with a much more relaxed attitude to the heat, and little concern if people get burnt.

        To add my point to this discussion, Zane I am unconvinced by your small i/capital i distinction as the document uses small i for “instrument” throughout – including for what you term “official” Instrument of Communion. As far as I can see GAFCON is claiming to be an Instrument of Communion, and the only effective one.


        1. Bosco,
          I’m sorry you’re not convinced, I can only give you the answers I received when I offered a query.

          GAFCON has functioned as an instrument of communion, perhaps the ABC needs to recognise it as such. If he doesn’t, it will make no difference. We have decided as a fellowship to maintain Anglican distinctives in doctrine and worship and we will continue being an expression of the Anglican Church which charts it’s own course into the future instead of having it set for us by the progressive agenda. It makes me sad, but I recognise after having heard stories from so many Anglican brothers and sisters in North America and Canada that this is essential for our ways of being.

          1. Thanks, Zane,

            It seems to me that you are adding tradition onto GAFCON’s scriptura, whilst I am working from GAFCON’s scriptura sola! 😉

            If the Archbishop of Canterbury were to recognise GAFCON as an instrument of Communion it would make no difference in our province. It is up to our province to make its own decisions what we recognise as instruments – as such you, of course, are welcome to set in motion the process whereby our province recognises GAFCON as an instrument of Communion.


          2. Bosco,
            You’ve highlighted just how ineffective the Instruments of Communion are – you can pick and choose which ones apply to you and which ones don’t. This is the problem. The Covenant at least attempted form some kind of bond of unity, what a shame it was turfed out!

  6. Mike Greenslade

    It is reminiscent of The People’s Front of Judea, the Judean People’s Front, the Judean Popular People’s Front, the Campaign for a Free Galilee, and the Popular Front of Judea. Splitters.

    1. Ever relevant!

      I hate the Romans as much as anybody.
      Are you sure?
      Oh, dead sure. I hate the Romans already.
      Listen. If you wanted to join the P.F.J., you’d have to really hate the Romans.
      I do!
      Oh, yeah? How much?
      A lot!
      Right. You’re in.

      …The People’s Front of Judea. Splitters.
      We’re the People’s Front of Judea!
      Oh. I thought we were the Popular Front.
      People’s Front!
      Whatever happened to the Popular Front, Reg?
      He’s over there.

  7. “GAFCON was affirming that it is a valid part oft the Anglican Communion” – Zane Elliot – NZ attendee

    While yet dismissing the membership of TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada, and maybe, the C.of E.?

  8. Let the liberals and progressive elements have all the big churches, fancy titles,strange hats, their magnificent cloakes and overly ritualised services. The incarnate, crucified and risen Christ was quite right when he said that in the beginning He who made them, made them male and female and for this cause a man should leave his mother and father.
    The African Bishops are quite right – if we can’t get this simple part of Christ’s message right, what can we?

  9. They may have, but at least they understand the simple meaning of the words of scripture and do not try to modernise and contextulise the message out of any notion of what was intended by Christ.

    1. Glen, I have no context about you to nuance your comment but African bishops and others spend years, as I have, learning the biblical languages and daily studying the scriptures, the meaning of the words of which are often far from simple, and daily provide greater depths and insights. There is often disagreement about what is intended by Christ. I have written much on this before. Blessings.

      1. Bosco, In reply to yours of 28th:
        What GAFCON is standing against is the intrusion of modernistic and contextual theology into a Church which wishes on one hand to portray itself as Christian and on the other hand conduct itself in an absolutely humanistic and secular fashion.
        Who I am and what I am has no relevance to the statements I have made for reasons which will become apparent.
        The Anglican Church Aotearoa NZ & Polynesia is not an Establishment Church but was formed by voluntary association in 1857 with the adoption of our Constitution (which was amended in 1992). Recital 2 of the Preamble to that Constitution, states that the Church is One Holy Catholic and Apostolic. That is, it is part of the one church established by Christ in Matthew 16.18. For this recital to have any validity the question of who Jesus was must be seriously confronted, because the unalterable Doctrine of the Church NZ is defined in Clause 1 of the Fundamental Provisions of that Constitution as being the doctrine and sacraments of CHrist as the Lord Hath Commanded in His Holy Word and as this Church hath received and explained the same in the Book of Common Prayer, the Ordinals and the 39 Articles of Religion. The 39 Articles are quite clear that Jesus of Nazareth was in fact the Incarnate, Crucified and Risen Christ, the Son of the Living God. For the Church to remain One Holy Catholic and Apostolic requires it to believe as St. Vincent of Lerins wrote “..we within the Catholic Church are to take great care that we hold that which hath been believed everywhere, always and by all men – ubique sempter, ab omnibus..”
        There is a methodology for the correct development of doctrine, which has been accepted from antiquity; i.e. the Bishops of the whole Catholic Church would meet in council and agree upon the proposals. However, this is not what is occurring in the Anglican Union at the present time. As we have made clear to the Ma Whea Commission in our submission, it is doubtful as to whether much of the content which was put forward to them; was legal and constitutional for them to consider. In closing, Bosco, perhaps, the problem is that we spend too much time studying the past and putting our interpretations upon the words that we read in the light of the personal foundational beliefs that we hold. Therefore, all personal views on the Doctrine of the Church are purely that as nothing new can ever be added to the revelation once given. This point was established in the recent case taken to the Human Rights Tribunal by Gino Sisneros where the evidence of Dr John Salmon and Rev Clay Nelson were dismissed because they were largely, if not entirely irrelevant.

  10. A secessionist organization claiming to have “healed divisions”? Good luck to them; in a year it’ll be no-wimmen and another year later, which way round do you tie your shoe-laces…

    1. Well Tim, does the sun rise in the east or the west? You have once again got it back to front. It is not Gafcon who are the secessionists organisation, but the modernist and contextual theologists who are trying to take the Anglican Church Aotearoa NZ & Polynesia out of the Doctrine as defined in Clause 1 of the 1857 Constitution. If it is anybody who should suceed from the Anglican Church NZ it is the Progressive Modernists and not the orthodox Anglican. Maybe the progressives would like to form a church of their own.

  11. ” the Jerusalem Declaration says ‘We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed”
    – Zane Elliot –

    Your use of the term ‘orthodox faith’ is pretty subjective, Zane. And if you think that of your particular province of the Anglican Communion, which is not anything to do with the Gafcon ‘Primate’s Council, you may just be in the wrong boat – according to your own assessment. What are you going to do about that?

    1. Ron, – in reply to your response to Zane Elliot; your whole argument against GAFCON is fallacious. Throughout Church history there have been people who stood for the truth. The modern progressives such as those at St Matthews in the city, Auckland are trying to take the church out of its constitutional doctrine. Why are the Bishops in NZ continuing to allow licenced priests to deny the incarnation and resurrection of Christ? As Archbishop Wabukala has blasted what he calls “endless dialogue designed to wear down resistance while all the time western revisionist anglicans pursue their self-determined mandate of radical inclusion”. He says “they want us to step back from the plain sense of scripture and excavate deeper truths of God’s Revelation concealed below the words themselves. It is little surprise then that we find scripture can be bent into all sorts of convenient shapes and that so-called gospel truths can contradict the plain meaning of scriptures”.
      It is obvious that we could do with Bishops of this calibre in New Zealand.

      1. “Why are the Bishops in NZ continuing to allow licenced priests to deny the incarnation and resurrection of Christ? – Glen –

        Glen, I am presuming that you are a member of ACANZP, who actually knows of ‘priests in N.Z. who are publicly ‘denying the Incarnation and Resurrection of Christ’. I do not, personally, know of any, myself.

        What more concerns me is bishops who seem to seem to undermine the polity of their own Churches by for example inaugurating a different doctrine of ministry by allowing Lay-presidency at the Eucharist. This, and deciding to attend conferences of bishop who refuse to attend Lambeth – on the grounds of their own opposition.

        This sort of personal commitment to a culture of separation on the part of bishops is, to my mind, more a problem for the Anglican Communion that the theological speculations of people struggling with their own faith journey.

        1. Glad you asked. I am a member of a church which was established in New Zealand on 13th June 1857 by voluntary association and the adoption of a Constitution. That Constitution, defines not only the Doctrine of the Church but also records the sources of that Doctrine; “The Doctrine and Sacraments of Christ as the Lord hath commanded in His Holy Word and as this church has received and explained the same in the BOC, the Ordinals and the 39 Articles.
          Both the Constitution and the Church of England Empowering Act 1928 protect that Doctrine from any alteration or diminishing. Therefore, any private and esoterical exegesis of the Scriptures which are not consistent with the Formularies are exactly that; (private and estoterical views) which contravene both the Constitution and the Canons.
          If you and Bosco are open to us sharing with you our experiences of trying to act against the promulgation of doctrine which contravenes the Constitution; we can do so.
          It strikes me that the Church in England is an establishment church; and on what basis TEC and ACOC were formed I don’t know. How wide their exegesis can be before they become heretical I don’t know. However, the Instruments of Communion are only useful and valid to us in New Zealand; til the Doctrine being considered contravenes the Doctrine of the Constitution of our Church.
          Churches which are not contrained by the Constitution of the Anglican Church Aotearoa NZ & Polynesia can discuss whatever they wish to but it can have no bearing on the Doctrine of our Church here in New Zealand if it contravenes our Constitution.

    2. Ron,
      My use of the term ‘orthodox faith’ is not subjective, it is based on the Apostolic message that was passed down to us. In the Anglican Tradition this is expressed in the 39 Articles, BCP and ordinal.

      I am in the wrong boat, but I believe at this stage that those of us who are committed to it being refloated need to at least stick around and pray and bail like mad. The timber that makes up the hull is still solid (the constitution, canons, formularies), and this good ship ACANZP could be restored if we cut out some rot and replace a few planks. If next year at GS/THW we suffer another volley perhaps the ship will give up the game and be consigned to slow decay at the bottom of a frigid seas. At that point I’ll be asking the question you pose above ‘what are you going to do about that ‘.

      1. Zane, you just said this:

        “If next year at GS/THW we suffer another volley perhaps the ship will give up the game and be consigned to slow decay at the bottom of a frigid seas.”

        Does your Bishop know about your opinion of ACANZP?

        1. Ron,
          I have no idea. Does my Bishop read this blog or anglicandownunder?

          I’ve never made it a secret that I believe the ACANZP is on the brink of taking a death leap, I might have discussed this with +Victoria when I met with her upon receiving notice I’d be posted to her diocese for a three year period, but I don’t recall.

          Does it matter?

  12. Glen makes a good point. We might not be having discussions such as these if our bishops over the years had been a lot clearer that ‘orthodoxy’ (however fluid and flexible a concept) does exclude the kind of theology espoused from St Matthews in the City. (And the Communion might not be in its current situation if Spong had been expelled from the TEC House of Bishops). Strong words? Maybe, But consider this, there seems to be more chance that the likes of Spong get to stay and feel welcome in the Communion than GAFCONites. Somehow that is wrong-headed.

    If Communion supporters do not like GAFCON’s conception of orthodoxy, it could be helpful if they could tell us what conception of orthodoxy is meaningful to them, and whether or not it draws a line against any old Anglican theologies or just against GAFCONism.

    1. Well, Peter. When the Church of England General Synod eventually authorises Same-Sex Blessings, it may be that you will accuse them of ‘un-orthodoxy’. But Gafcon and you may find that the goal-posts have moved – like they did at the Reformation. “Semper Reformanda” is not necessarily evil.

      1. Ron, for the Anglican Church in NZ to ever write a blessing for same sex relationships would be completely contrary to Article 20 and therefore completely outside of the Constitution. It would be illegal in common law for them to try and do so. If you truly want this to happen I would find a church where it is possible.

          1. I am interested in where and when the blessing that you referred to took place. In his evidence to the Human Rights Review Tribunal May 2013, Archbishop Richardson stated “there is no approved form of recognition and blessing of people in same sex relationships equivalent to the services for Christian marriage in the New Zealand Prayer Book”.
            So which Bishop gave consent for the liturgy that you are referring to, to be used?

          2. I am a little confused, Glen, by the way you phrase your comments and questions.

            You refer very carefully to history, doctrine, and constitutions, but then in a comment like this make mistaken assumptions that it is a bishop that gives consent to rites. It is not. And you assume that all allowable services have been bound together in our Prayer Book. Again a misunderstanding.

            The rite was prepared as part of a collection of rites over two decades ago by out Liturgical Commission. It was allowed through the passing of legislation through our General Synod Te Hinota Whanui. There were the same bishops involved in both steps. Such blessings are well known and are advertised on parish websites.


  13. Hi Bosco,
    You have certainly opened up a can of worms with this site. For all of your best intentions, knowing human nature as I do, it seems a little naive to think that this issue can be discussed without emotions becoming overly involved. The real issue that is at the centre of this discussion is simply the future of the Anglican Church Aotearoa NZ & Polynesia. It seems to us that there is an inverted sense of logics involved here where the modernistic progressives who are trying to destroy the Doctrine of our Church are accusing those who remain faithful to the Constitutional Doctrine of wanting to split the Church. Surely it is the modernists who are heading the Church onto a path of having to decide whether it remains loyal to its foundational constitution or whether it goes off on some Spong – Geering tangent. What we are seeing today is exactly what Geering did to the Presbyterian Church some 50 yrs ago. The foresight of the founding fathers of the church here in New Zealand must be commended for they said quite simply, that if your thinking does not line up with the Scriptures as explained in the BCP the Ordinals and the 39 Articles, then it is not the legitimate doctrine of this Church. I would suggest that Ron Smith and his ilk explain to us how their views marry up with the 39 Articles of Faith and the BCP. It is a pity that the Bishops of this Province will not perform their Episcopal function and bring these errant priests into line. It is pointless to denigrate GAFCON for trying to show the Anglican Communion worldwide how it has erred from its foundation.

    1. Glen, I now caution you.

      Please don’t claim that I am naïve, and that I am unaware of human nature, or that the bishops have been negligent when all have equal rights to initiate proceedings against what you refer to as “errant priests” – and no one has done so.

      I will continue to run this site with a culture which respects difference – seeking more light than heat. If you cannot participate within that framework, you are welcome to continue the discussion on your own site, or another, or contact the people you have an issue with privately.


  14. It is not my business currently, Ron, to accuse churches of un-orthodoxy. But I am making it my business to see whether Anglicans are using the word “orthodox” fairly or just to suit their purposes.

    The reformanda of the Reformation was taking the church back to its scriptural roots and removing doctrine of accretions added by the church over the years.

    As far as I can work out blessing same sex partnerships would not be going back to scripture and it would look like an accretion imposed on doctrine by the church.

    But perhaps my understanding of the a Reformation is un-orthodox!

  15. Bosco,
    re Blessings of same sex relationships –
    Would it be possible for you to post a copy of the rite to which you refer and also state the authorizing legislation which was passed by General Synod. Thank you.
    Further, it was not I who mentioned the services being in the Prayer Book but the PRIMATE of New Zealand in his evidence.
    And also, my understanding is that if a priest was going to use a alternative form of worship, they would have the courtesy to make their Bishop aware of it and hence my comment regarding the Bishop’s consent. Perhaps approval may have been a better word.

    1. Glen, I have written about this more than once on this site, providing all the details, have you poked around using the search box? Let me know if you have and cannot find things and I will have a further hunt myself – but I would use the same method as you.

      The Archbishop is correct. It is not in the Prayer Book.

      Priests regularly lead alternative forms of worship (Taizé, Prayer & Praise, blessing vestry members, pet services, nine lessons and carols, blessing a boat, etc. etc) I am not aware of priests having “courtesy to make their Bishop aware of” them.


      1. Thank you Bosco.
        Are you referring to a service which is specifically designed to bless same sex relationships? It would be easier to search if I knew what title the service has and on what webpage/website.

        1. No, Glen. It would bless any relationship. So search for blessing a relationship on this website; you should see a search box in the top right-hand side of this site – it is a very good search engine. Blessings.

          1. Commenting on your reply Bosco:-
            At a workshop on marriage, held in the Auck. Diocese earlier this year, the blessing service to which you refer was spoken of. It would appear that General Synod gave permission to the Liturgical Committee to write a wide ranging service for blessing various relationships but not with the intent that it should be used for blessing same sex relationships. However, the use of that service in any particular circumstances still has to meet the criteria of the Constitution and Canons. So I repeat my question “How can a priest bless a relationship which is not ordained of God or recognised by the Constitution and Canons of our Church?”

          2. Well aside, Glen, from this actually being the first time you ask the question:

            I do not think a priest or bishop can bless something contrary to God’s will. They can attempt to do so. An example might be, some would think that blessing warships or nuclear weapons would be contrary to God’s will.

            I am not sure what “recognised by the Constitution and Canons of our Church” indicates. Warships and nuclear weapons are not “recognised by the Constitution and Canons of our Church”.


          3. Bosco; At a workshop on marriage, held in Auck. Diocese earlier this year, the blessing service to which you refer was spoken of. It would appear from the minutes of that conference that General Synod gave consent to the Liturgal Committee to write a non specific service for blessing a wide range of relationships:- But not with the intent that it would be used for blessing same sex relationships. However, the use of that service in particular circumstance still has to meet the criteria of the Constitution and Canons. So I repeat my question.
            How can a priest bless a relationship which is not ordained of God nor recognised by the Constitution and Canons of our Church?

          4. Thanks, Glen. Please could you forward a copy of the minutes of General Synod that you are referring to. A PDF scan to the email address associated with this website would be fine. Then we can discuss this point further – no one has made this suggestion ever before, so it is a fascinating point if correct. It is, of course, unhelpful misinformation if it is not. Blessings.

  16. Reply to comments on same sex relationship blessings.
    At a workshop on marriage, held in the Auck. Diocese earlier this year, the blessing service to which you refer was spoken of. It would appear that General Synod gave consent to the Liturgal Committee to write a non-specific blessing service for various relationships: but not with the intent that it be used for blessing same sex relationships. However, the use of that service in any particular circumstance still has to meet the criteria of the Constitution and Canons. So I repeat my question:-

    1. Bosco,
      We are awaiting some material which will establish the stance we have been presenting. The minutes to which I referred was in fact a report from an Auck. Diocesan Workshop on marriage to the Auck. Synod. At this stage it would appear that there is no mention of this liturgy in any of the Gen. Synod minutes which raises some very interesting and legal issues if this liturgy has been used in the circumstances which you claim.

      1. Thanks, Glen. I have no idea who the “we” is that you refer to here for the first time. I indicated I had no expectation of the rite you mention being in General Synod minutes – you are just confirming my understanding. The lack of mention of the rite in the manner you suggest makes no difference whatsoever – so it may be “very interesting” to you (plural?) but raises no “legal issues” whatsoever. Blessings.

        1. Thanks Bosco;
          Sections 4 & 4a of the C.O.England Empowering Act. 1928 in particular stipulate quite clearly how Liturgy development may occur. Surely, if there is no mention of this blessing in the minutes of Gen.Synod; then the processes laid down in Sect.4a have not been adhered to and the blessing was an experimental liturgy whose existence has long expired.

          1. You are preaching to the choir, Glen. A little looking around my site should have drawn your attention to my exasperation with liturgy in our province and my suggestion that this messiness may lead to significant disputes on the horizon. There is agreement now that some of what has occurred was illegal. The Worship Template, however, covers this example, just as it does blessing animals, organs, inducting vicars, etc. etc. etc. Other provinces have a different process for allowing such services. Blessings.

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