Summary notes by John Richardson
Q: Is it too late to mend the situation?
Greg Venables: It may be possible to mend it, but we must look to the future?
Q: Do you stand with Forward in Faith and Anglo-Catholicism? Can Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics be in one communion?
Peter Jensen: Yes, we have been in one communion. In 2003, one group in the Communion made a terrific blunder breaking through the boundaries. This freed up the rest of us. The Communion will never be the same again. We are one Communion but far looser, and this enables great spiritual movements like GAFCON to arise. The blunder is being turned to good. The Communion is going forward and those who can sign off on something like the Jerusalem statement can work together.
Jim Packer: It is important to know who our friends are. Anglo-Catholics generally believe in Trinity, Scripture, atonement, resurrection, judgement, prayer, etc. A ‘higher’ view of sacraments and priesthood seems secondary in the light of those primary correspondences. I can be friends with Anglo-Catholics. Modern Anglo-Catholicism has a different agenda from in the past. I can, with qualifications, be friends with Anglo-Catholics. I have good will towards Forward in Faith. Liberals are different, denying many of the aforementioned. We have let Liberals get away with too much with regard to leadership in the past.
Q: Would the panel unequivocally condemn violence against lesbian and gay people, and how do you handle issues of polygamy in African culture.
Henry Orombi: Violence against homosexuals is wrong. Jesus did not condemn tax collectors etc. On polygamy my grandfather had six wives and my father two. When dying, none of my grandfather’s wives offered him sanctuary. My father’s two wives, including my mother, were at constant war. I resolved only to have one wife before I became a Christian. As Church the bottom line is I would not ordain a polygamist or give one a prominent place in leadership. We would like to live our lives seeing transformation because of the gospel. We do encourage converted polygamists to formalise marriage with the first wife, whilst the other will live with her children without marital relations.
Q: Would all the GAFCON leaders support those who ordain women?
Peter Jensen: We do not ordain women — that is well known. The ordination of women is a different order of things from the presenting issue. Scripture never suggests an ordained woman is in danger of losing her salvation. The continual practice of greed or immorality is clearly a matter of being inside or outside the kingdom of God.
People at GAFCON had different views. The Jerusalem Statement in paragraph 12 speaks of secondary matters and seeking the mind of Christ on issues that divide us. It is time to rethink this matter under the word of God, yet again. We may be wrong, but we need to bring this prayerfully with each other and to reconsider it. Similarly, we may rethink on divorce and remarriage.
Q: Would you rather not be at the Lambeth Conference? How will GAFCON be brought to bear on the Communion?
Greg Venables: We decided to take no one stance on this. I decided I would go. I have no problems saying 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.
Henry Orombi: At Dromantine we made our recommendations. In Dar es Salaam we made recommendations seeking a response which would determine who would be invited to Lambeth. By July the Archbishop had already sent out his invitations. How can we agree together? We have already discontinued fellowship with bishops of TEC, how can we come to Lambeth and sit together? Trying to sit together has been attempted repeatedly without real success.
Q: What is the relationship between what has come out of GAFCON and the proposed Covenant?
Peter Jensen: Most at GAFCON probably felt the Covenant was not going anywhere. If it would bind people round the gospel it probably wouldn’t be accepted, if it didn’t it wouldn’t work. I am praying for Lambeth. It may be the Covenant that emerges will be suitable, but I doubt it. The Windsor Process was misconceived from the start. It was balanced, but would not say sin was sin. The Covenant may work, but probably not.
Greg Venables: The Covenant was presented to try to find unity because we were ignoring the problem. The Covenant does not address the real problem. People sitting round the same table would say they accepted one thing, then she [sic] would go back and say she hadn’t accepted it. So you get people who are devious. It is ignoring the real problem.
Q: How was the GAFCON Statement produced?
Peter Jensen: Not in the way I wanted it. I would have written the Statement first, and I drafted one. ABp Akinola got word of it and told me to stop doing, which I didn’t. But he made it quite clear we were to hear the word of God through the people. A communique group had been appointed. We also drew in what people wanted to say to the group — which went on for several days. The group kept hearing what people were saying. By Thursday most was written. By Friday we had a draft. People then broke into groups. Each province signed off on the draft and it was acclaimed on Sunday morning. There were many providences and miracles throughout GAFCON and this was one.
Q: Are we right to understand that at the heart of the Jerusalem Statement is a redefinition of Anglicanism as confessional? How does this affect relationships with ABp of Canterbury?
Greg Venables: It is not a redefinition, it is going back to our roots. Regarding the ABp over to Jim Packer ...
Jim Packer: We must accept the authority of Archbishops because we are Anglicans. The question about the Archbishop of Canterbury was raised in Nigeria, which had redefined itself as an Anglican province without specifying communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury as part of the essence. The present ABp of Canterbury who is by confession a Liberal is making it hard for the rest of us to feel anything other than that we could get on better without him. This may not be true, but I hope the next ABp of Canterbury is of a different persuasion. There is something dispensable about the ABp of Canterbury and it is not of the essence of Anglicanism to be in communion with him when he becomes part of the doctrinal problem. Pray for the next ABp of Canterbury and that he may be with us sooner than we might have thought.
Peter Jensen: As far as I know, being in communion with the ABp of Canterbury as such is not part of our constitution.
Q: Rowan Williams said that GAFCON lacks legitimacy, authority and integrity. Is he right?
Henry Orombi: GAFCON drew in 1,000+ people, bishops and archbishops. The Primates Council is coming together to challenge the unorthodox. I am at pains to understand what the Archbishop is saying. Nothing we did happened in the dark.
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.No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.