Anglican rift over same-sex marriage widens

Religion
by Leigh Jones
Posted 4/22/16, 12:00 pm

Conservative Anglicans reiterated their frustration this week with the U.K.-based Anglican Communion over the growing divide on same-sex marriage.

Six primates with the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), an organization representing archbishops and their provinces around the world, met in Nairobi, Kenya, to discuss the group’s future and its ongoing response to the January meeting of Anglican bishops in Canterbury, England.

“We went to Canterbury out of a desire for unity,” the GAFCON primates wrote in a statement issued after the meeting. “In our hearts we desire to see the tear in the fabric of the communion mended. The sanctions passed at that meeting were the mildest possible rebuke to only the worst of the offenders, but they were one step in the right direction. Regrettably, these sanctions have not been upheld. This is disappointing, but sadly not surprising.”

During the Canterbury meeting, the Anglican Communion voted to sanction The Episcopal Church for violations of institutional protocol instead of a lapse in scriptural fidelity. The U.S.-based province voted last year to change its canon on marriage to accommodate same-sex unions.

The conservative members of the communion wanted to see stronger actions that would bring the U.S. church back to “the plain teaching of Scripture” in relation to marriage.

“Within hours of the meeting’s end the public responses from many bishops, clergy, and lay people of The Episcopal Church made it clear that they did not desire to share the same journey,” the GAFCON primates wrote. “The biblical call to repentance is a call to make a 180 degree turn. It grieves us that many in The Episcopal Church have again rejected this call. While we desire to walk together, until there is true repentance, the reality is that they are deliberately walking away from the Anglican Communion and the authority of Scripture at a distance that continues to increase.”

After the Canterbury meeting, Michael Curry, archbishop of The Episcopal Church, offered no apology for his province’s actions, suggesting instead it would lead the Anglican Communion toward a more “welcoming” position on same-sex marriage and sexuality.

“And the truth is, it may be part of our vocation to help the communion and to help many others to grow in a direction where we can realize and live the love that God has for all of us, and we can one day be a church and a communion where all of God’s children are fully welcomed, where this is truly a house of prayer for all people,” he said.

The rift in the Anglican Communion over sexuality fidelity to Scripture has been growing for years. While more liberal branches of the church, including groups in the United States and Canada, have moved toward embracing homosexuality and same-sex marriage, the majority of the denomination, centered in Africa, has remained steadfast in its devotion to biblical orthodoxy. A growing number of conservative U.S. churches have separated from The Episcopal Church and aligned themselves with the African province.

In the statement issued after their meeting in Nairobi, the GAFCON primates pledged to continue working toward unity but hinted an official split could be around the corner.

“We are of one mind that the future of the Anglican Communion does not lay with manipulations, compromises, legal loopholes, or the presentation of half-truths; the future of our Communion lies in humble obedience to the truth of the Word of God written,” they wrote. “What others have failed to do, GAFCON is doing: enabling global fellowship and godly order, united by biblical faithfulness. This unity has provided us with great energy to continue to work for the renewal of the Anglican Communion.”

Leigh Jones

Leigh lives in Houston with her husband and daughter. She is the news editor for The World and Everything in It and reports on education for WORLD Digital.

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  •  jrmbasso's picture
    jrmbasso
    Posted: Mon, 05/02/2016 04:23 pm

    Thank you, Leigh Jones. There seems to be a parallel between this disagreement and one in the leadership of the Jews during the ministry of Jesus on earth. Beginning early on in Jesus' ministry, the leaders sought to kill him. They persisted in spite of miracles which witnessed that He was the Anointed One spoken of in the Bible. Among their number were some believers including Nicodemus who testified to them that the Bible must be followed in the matter of examining Jesus. The leaders did not listen to what the Bible said. The result was that the leaders unwittingly carried out God's plan for salvation. Now we have believers testifying to the Anglican Communion that the Bible must be followed in the matter of marriage. The TEC's vocation is not to lead the church, God will lead it. We can only pray that God's grace and mercy will change their hearts and allow them to follow Him. 

  • JerryM
    Posted: Mon, 05/02/2016 04:23 pm

    "...The sanctions passed at that meeting were the mildest possible rebuke to only the worst of the offenders, but they were one step in the right direction. Regrettably, these sanctions have not been upheld. This is disappointing, but sadly not surprising."
    And this the key issue right now:  The archbishop and the Anglican church hierarchy are either unwilling or unable to exercise church discipline related to this issue.  

  • Zinger
    Posted: Mon, 05/02/2016 04:23 pm

    God welcomes the sinner, but not the sinner who trades on His love to remain a sinner.  God is holy and those who seek His friendship must be holy also.  Our right of access to God does not give us the right to be and do what we like.--William Barclay

  •  John Cogan's picture
    John Cogan
    Posted: Mon, 05/02/2016 04:23 pm

    “... it may be part of our vocation ... to help many others to grow in a direction where we can realize and live the love that God has for all of us, and we can one day be a church and a communion where all of God’s children are fully welcomed, where this is truly a house of prayer for all people,” [Michael Curry, the archbishop of the Episcopal Church] said. Christ's church DOES welcome all people - to repentance. But how can it welcome those who celebrate sin and refuse to repent, who call 'good' what God calls evil? That is the crux of the matter and Curry refuses to acknowledge that.

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