'This isn't an attempt to storm Lambeth Palace': GAFCON not looking for split in Church

Tue 02 May 2017
By Marcus Jones

GAFCON, a worldwide group of conservative Anglicans, has told Premier it's not looking to break up the Church of England but is instead working to keep Anglican Communion united.

Over the weekend, a statement from the group was released with details of the creation of a missionary bishop to be sent to the UK in response to the Church of England and Scottish Episcopal Church's teaching on marriage and sexuality.

GAFCON, which follows the traditional understanding on these issues, says it is sending someone here to give episcopal leadership to those who claim the Churches are becoming too liberal.

The trigger point was the upcoming debate between Anglicans in Scotland which could lead to a change in teaching on marriage.

Addressing the issue on Premier's News Hour, Most Rev Peter Jensen, GAFCON's General Secretary and a former Archbishop of Sydney, said: "There are many issues that divide us, where we have diverse opinions, and that's OK - but some of them are so important that a stand has to be taken. A painful and costly stand.

"The Primates believe that this present matter is one of those things and the Bible is as clear as can be - that to embrace the view that the practice of homosexuality is OK is wrong according to the Bible.

"It's a very significant matter in our view and puts the authority of the Bible at stake."

Responding to this weekend's statement, Most Rev David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church said: "In June, the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church will reach the final stage of consideration of changes which would make possible same-sex marriage in our churches.

"The news that GAFCON intends to send a missionary bishop to Britain is regrettable. The Anglican Communion functions as a global communion on the basis of respect for the territorial integrity of each province.

"This move is a breach of that understanding."

Most Rev Peter Jensen declined to give more information on who the missionary bishop will be and where they will come from.

He did however suggest the person would be open to working alongside the leadership of the Church of England.

"That would be wonderful and would be a recognition by the Church of England that it's present policies have created this conscience problem for many," he said. "I think that is a little unlikely but this isn't an attempt to storm Lambeth Palace."

The Scottish Episcopal Church will debate the issue of marriage on 8th June.

Listen to Most Rev Peter Jensen speaking to Premier's Marcus Jones.

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