Primates and Packer live from All Souls

John Richardson, the Ugley Vicar, is live blogging from All Souls Langham Place, in London, where a day conference is in session with some of the leaders who were recently at the GAFCON conference, also with J.I. Packer. John has already posted summaries of talks by Archbishop Hebry Orombi of Uganda and Archbishop Greg Venables of the Southern Cone, followed by a summary of an interview with Rev Dr Packer. This summary ends as follows:

Interviewer: What would be your wisdom about carrying on the GAFCON process in England?

JP: At the heart of the Statement is the Jerusalem Declaration. I would like to see PCCs and, where possible, Diocesan Synod, or even central bodies, committing themselves to this as their own guiding star. I would like to see the Primates who were leaders at GAFCON meeting in a public way in January 2009, casting the Jerusalem Statement into the form of a covenantal commitment, publicly subscribing to it on the part of their provinces, and also seeing diocesans subscribe to it. I would like to see it presented to new bishops appointed in the Church of England to subscribe to it, and I would like to see it established as a basis for orthodoxy and missionary action.

The goal of the Covenant Process begun in the Windsor Report would thus be achieved in essence. Anglican provinces who didn’t come along with this would be in the outer circle of limited communion for not identifying with Anglican orthodoxy.

This would be a first step in getting Anglicanism back into proper shape.

Interviewer: Thank you for letting us look into your ‘crystal ball’.

(A standing ovation was given to Dr Packer, who also stood to acknowledge it.)

It is an interesting idea to get PCCs and Synods to endorse the Jerusalem Declaration. Most of it is uncontroversial among conservative Anglicans. But the likely sticking point is this clause:

13. 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.

Before the statement can be generally accepted there needs to be some clarification, as I discussed earlier today, about how this clause is not Donatism and not in conflict with Article XXVI.

UPDATE: John Richardson has added a summary of a panel discussion, which touches on many interesting issues. Peter Jensen confirmed that ordination of women was considered a secondary issue on which opinions could differ. Greg Venables noted that he is going to Lambeth, but said:

I have very little hope for Lambeth. It is not going to be a place where we can sit people down and see what we are going to do.

The discussion summary ends as follows:

Q: Could the panel comment about how people in the CofE may most helpfully respond to GAFCON and the Jerusalem Declaration?

Peter Jensen: This affects everyone in the UK. Os Guinness compared it to a nuclear explosion where the fallout will happen around the world. Your presence here suggests you are deeply concerned about that fallout. GAFCON is a spiritual movement. Many of you will want to be part of it and to apply it to your local situation. There will be no vote here, but if you are convinced of this you signal so by writing in to the GAFCON website, indicating you support for the GAFCON movement.

FURTHER UPDATE: John RIchardson is blogging almost as fast as I can keep up with him! He has now blogged on the session with Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney. In this Jensen takes further the point he started on at the end of the panel discussion. He explains why he considers it important for orthodox Anglicans to make a stand on this issue, not just to keep their heads down in their parishes. He answers Rowan Williams’ criticism that GAFCON is self-appointed:

GAFCON is a very Anglican answer — a new set of instruments of unity! They were not ‘self-appointed’, they were God-appointed, from looking at the Word of God and seeing what they needed to do. …

The last two weeks have been two of the most extraordinary in my life. What we are dealing with here is not a split, but a movement possibly as significant as the Evangelical Revival, or even the Anglo-Catholic movement if you prefer, and it may bring Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics together [applause].

The day conference apparently ended with these words from Jensen:

Henry Orombi, Greg Venables, Jim Packer have all spoken about the situation. It is not for me to tell you what you must do here, apart from saying you must stand for the gospel and the Bible. We are looking to you. We need you to be strong and brave and true. We will help you. And together we will resist the forces of evil and secularism which seek to extinguish the gospel and are using the Church to do that. Stand firm.

A Lambeth riddle

Ruth Gledhill has had the interesting experience of interviewing both Bishop Gene Robinson and Bishop Greg Venables in the last few days. Her interview with Bishop Gene is available on YouTube; sadly the one with Bishop Greg is as yet not, or not linked to. But she does break the unexpected news that Venables, as well as Robinson, will attend the Lambeth Conference. As Venables has been invited, although perhaps not expected, he will be an official delegate. But Robinson will not be. Also, his “bridegroom” Mark will be in Canterbury only for the first few days of the conference, so it will not be as much of a “honeymoon” for them as I once suggested.

Ruth then gets poetic with her thoughts on the two bishops at Lambeth, including these lines:

He uninvited and he not disinvited will both be tried and found wanting.
They’ll hang either side of the leader who tried to unite them and failed at the asking.

Rowan Williams as Christ between the two thieves, indeed? According to Rev George Pitcher in the Daily Telegraph, linked to by John Richardson,

Dr Williams considers the See of Canterbury as not just his calling, but his cross to bear. He’ll not be driven from it short of illness or an act of God.

It may be the cross from which his body has to be taken down at the end of the Lambeth Conference, and with no guarantee of resurrection. But to which of the two thieves will he say “Today you will be with me in paradise”? There is no Anglican paradise with room for both of them.

UPDATE (6.40 pm): Ruth Gledhill has now posted her interview with Bishop Greg Venables, in written form.

Packer leaves the Anglican Church of Canada

It was perhaps inevitable considering the action being taken against him, and indeed many may have thought it had happened months ago. But, according to a report from today’s Vancouver Sun posted by Suzanne, it is only this week that J.I. Packer has officially announced that he is leaving the Anglican Church of Canada and joining the Province of the Southern Cone, under Bishop Gregory Venables. Packer’s church, St John’s Shaughnessy, voted in February to affiliate to the Southern Cone. Now Packer is personally making the same move.

Michael Daley’s Lambeth Conference Canada blog has more background on this story. The announcement seems to have been first made on Monday in a press release which Daley apparently posts in full. The press release quotes from a response by Packer and ten other priests and deacons to their former bishop Michael Ingham, in which they deny the charges made against them, and write:

We have… determined that in order to uphold our ordination vows, we must leave your jurisdiction, and by this letter, we hereby relinquish the licences we hold from the Bishop of New Westminster. Each of us will receive a licence to continue our present parish ministries from Bishop Donald Harvey, who, as you know, is under the jurisdiction of the Primate of the Southern Cone. In this way, we will be able to continue our Anglican ministry within the Anglican Church, under the jurisdiction of and in communion with those who remain faithful to historic, orthodox Anglicanism and as part of the Anglican Communion worldwide.

Oddly, Daley mentioned neither Packer nor leaving the Anglican Church of Canada in his post title, and did not post this on his main Lambeth Conference blog. Anglican Mainstream reports the same story with more detail, noting that David Short is also among the clergy who resigned, but again without naming Packer or referring to resignations in a post title; in another post reporting the resignation of the eleven clergy, Packer is not named at all.

So, bizarrely, it seems to have taken Suzanne and a secular newspaper to make this internationally important news break outside Canada. Well, Hugh Bourne here in England did pick up the story on Wednesday, but has received (or allowed) no comments or pingbacks on it. And already on Tuesday Babyblue in Washington D.C. had clearly reported the story. But strangely it didn’t get into the corner of the blogosphere which I inhabit.

Bishops without borders, including women

Anglican Mainstream reports these words of Bishop Don Harvey, leader of the Anglican Network in Canada which is breaking away from the official Anglican Church of Canada:

There is no reference in the Bible to a diocese, border, or boundary.  I have heard ‘Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel’. We have lawyers and doctors and engineers without borders. We are launching bishops without borders.

But it is not just in Canada that bishops are soon going to be operating without borders. Last night I attended an open meeting the synod of my deanery (local group of Anglican churches) to discuss the issue of women bishops. Continue reading

A ray of hope for the Anglican Communion?

For the first time for a long time I have seen some news offering a ray of hope for the Anglican Communion and the Church of England. According to the Daily Telegraph as reported by Anglican Mainstream,

The Archbishop of Canterbury is preparing to target individual bishops whose pro-gay policies threaten to derail his efforts to avert schism … by withdrawing their invitations to next year’s Lambeth Conference.

It seems to me that this is almost the only path which Archbishop Rowan Williams can take which has any real chance of holding the Anglican Communion together. Postponing the Lambeth Conference would help, but only by postponing the inevitable unless combined with some other strong action. But by excluding from the Conference bishops who deliberately flout the church’s agreed policies on homosexuality, he just may be able to avoid the threatened mass boycott by more conservative bishops, which would imply a schism right through the heart of Anglicanism.

The problem now for Dr Williams is exactly who to take off the Lambeth invitation list. Continue reading