Anglican rift over same-sex marriage widens
NAIROBI, Kenya (BP) -- Conservative Anglicans reiterated their frustration 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 April 18-21 in Nairobi, Kenya, to discuss the group's future and its ongoing response to the January meeting of Anglican bishops in Canterbury, England. See related [http://www.bpnews.net/46156/episcopal-church-censured-for-gay-marriage-stance]story[/URL].
"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 and 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."