21 November 2008

GAFCON loses a round in the UK

It is really a daunting decision each morning, or every other morning, to decide what is worth a post at TTLS. I usually spend an hour or so searching the web for the latest shenanigans of the religious right wing who have, to some degree, supplanted historic, orthodox Anglicanism. Today was an exception: As soon as I read the Church Times online, I knew what I wanted to bring to your attention.

In today's Church Times (issue 7601, 21 November 2008 -- remember it is Saturday in the United Kingdom), a wee article appeared that deserves a read.

The National Evangelical Anglican Consultation (NEAC5) has closed its conference, but there was no unity or warm, fuzzy feelings all around when the last "amen" was said. Instead there was
[A]crimony .. amid accusations of a hijack by hard-line conservatives and of bullying and manipulation by the chairman of the Church of England Evangelical Council, the Rev'd Dr. Richard Turnbull, Principal of Wycliffe Hall.
It behooves us to remember that Wycliffe Hall is a hotbed, if not the centre of extreme right wing religious thought and over the years, we've heard from them numerous times. It was Wycliffe Hall that intimidated the Archbishop of Canterbury into withdrawing his support of Jeffrey Johns to be a bishop in Oxford.

In fact, parallels have been drawn between Turnballs actions at the conference and his behaviour as principal of Wycliffe where he was taken to an employment tribunal.

According to the article, when the delegates returned from their luncheon break, they found, on their chairs, a resolution calling for NEAC to support the GAFCON actions. The resolution was not on the agenda and there had been no mention of it in the morning session. A note attached to the resolution said there would be no amendments allowed to the resolution. Basically, it was "rubber stamp this, as is."

Apparently, Turnball would listen to no reason or advice from the convener of the Anglican Mainstream (Dr. Phillip Giddings) or Canon Michael Saward who both told him to withdraw the resolution.

Now comes the most delicious statement in the whole article":
He described Dr Turnbull as having been “publicly humiliated”, and GAFCON as having been made to look like “a bullying, manipu­lative movement”. A procedural motion brought by Philip Love­grove, a veteran of the General Synod, called for a move to next business. That motion was carried by 123 votes to 104. [Emphasis added]
Oh, come now! GAFCON bullying? GAFCON manipulative? Say it ain't so!
The Rev'd Dr Ian Paul, Dean of Studies at St John’s College, Nottingham, and a former member of the CEEC council, described the procedural vote as “the only way many of us felt we could say, ‘Please stop bullying us, stop pushing us around, and stop telling us what we must believe, without debate, to avoid being label­led unsound by you.’” [Emphasis added]
The CEEC is the Church of England Evangelical Council.

Whatever the personal feelings of the delegates towards GAFCON when they arrived at the conference, they left with a sour taste in their collective mouth.

Another delightfully delicious statement came from the Rt. Rev'd Mr. Broadbent (an odd name for a person who does not believe women should be ordained nor equal rights for all members of the church):
GAFCON is asking the right questions — about what holds us together — but the theological and ecclesial answers it provides are not adequate to secure acceptance on the part of all Evangelical Angli­cans.

[...] Can we hold off from associating [...] with one parti­cu­lar strand in the continuing Angli­can Communion debate? I per­sonally don’t want us to do anything that ties us in to one approach to these matters, which is what voting in favour of the Jerusalem Dec­la­ration would do.
At least he recognizes GAFCON for what it is, a dictatorship of egotistical men. And, speaking of men, another statement is very telling about the NEAC and GAFCON.
Dr Christina Baxter, who chairs the House of Laity of the General Synod, expressed her concern that the meeting had been, in the main, elderly, male, and white. Speaking on Tuesday, she said: “I am concerned that when Evangelicals come together, they represent the broad spectrum in terms of people groups
And there you have it. But perhaps the best comment of all came when Turnball told the meeting that, since they had not voted to join up with the GAFCONers, the decision would be made on their behalf , Mr. Curtis said "Which planet are you on?"

I think that comment applies to the whole lot of fundamentalists in the Anglican Communion.

The Church Times is a subscription only site. If you would like to read the entire article but cannot access the url, let me know you want the whole article.