The Archbishop of Canterbury has been dealt a new blow in his attempts to unite the Anglican Communion ahead of 2020's Lambeth Conference.
Conservative bishop warns global Anglican summit an 'obstacle to the gospel'
An international gathering of Anglican churches due to be held in Canterbury next year poses an "obstacle to the gospel", the leader of a conservative church group has warned.
Archbishop Nicholas Okoh from the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (known as GAFCON) said the Lambeth Conference in 2020 would embrace teaching "profoundly at odds" with biblical teaching.
In a letter to members, the senior Nigerian clergyman reiterated his advice that bishops do not attend the meeting of Anglican Communion members as it is "currently constituted". He is not the only leader who has called for a boycott.
Archbishop Nicholas cited the recent same-sex wedding ceremony of an Anglican bishop in Canada among his concerns.
The Anglican Church of Canada's Assistant Bishop of Toronto, Kevin Robertson married his partner Mohan Sharma during a service at St James' Cathedral in the city. The service was conducted by Bishop Susan Bell from the Diocese of Niagara.
The Chairman's February letter is available! Archbishop Okoh urges faithful Anglican Bishops to think twice before accepting an invitation to attend Lambeth 2020. Read his full letter here: https://t.co/Kq8FWYJGc2 pic.twitter.com/sSpT5Ur00m— GAFCON (@gafconference) 7 February 2019
Archbishop Okoh said: "This step by the Anglican Church of Canada underlines the urgency of our advice in the Jerusalem 2018 'Letter to the Churches' warning against attending the 2020 Lambeth Conference as currently constituted.
"For the first time assistant bishops and their spouses will be invited, so we can expect that Bishop Robertson and his partner will be attending and received in good standing."
The Archbishop of Canterbury @JustinWelby and the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, Suheil Dawani, met the Greek Patriarch Theophilos in Amman, Jordan, today during an Anglican Communion regional Primates' Meeting as steps continue towards the Lambeth Conference - #LC2020. pic.twitter.com/eNBZ2ZYDnf— Anglican Communion (@ACOffice) 5 February 2019
Archbishop Okoh also drew comparisons from an upcoming visit he will make to the United Arab Emirates, a country Open Doors says is home to "high" levels of persecution against believers.
He added: "The obstacles to the gospel that our brothers and sisters meeting in Dubai face are imposed upon them, but how tragic it is when obstacles to the gospel arise within the church itself."
Gafcon members met in Jerusalem last year.
The Anglican leader also referred to recent controversy around comments made by the Anglican Communion's representative to the Vatican.
In a video posted on YouTube, Dr John Shepherd appeared to say that Christians should be "set free" from the view Jesus' resurrection was "a physical event".
Archbishop Okoh said: "Dr John Shepherd has responded by issuing a statement which apparently affirms belief that Jesus was raised bodily, but has not repudiated his previous statements to the contrary.
"Such confusion is itself an obstacle to the gospel."
National branches of the global Anglican church throughout 165 countries have been invited by the Archbishop of Canterbury Most Rev Justin Welby (pictured above) to next year's Lambeth Conference - a summit held every ten years.
During an interview with Premier last month, Archbishop Justin urged Christians to "read the Bible, pray and love one another" in response to differing views on issues such as sexuality.
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