CEEC to Church of England: “Step Back from the Brink”
The Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) responded strongly to the final statement from the GAFCON IV gathering in Kigali, Rwanda. It set out a six-point response and “urgently” called for an exploration of a “settlement” to cause the least division within the Church of England. It called for the C of E to “step back from the brink.”
First, in its reminder to us of the authority of God’s word. The Commitment declares that it is a consequence of God’s word no longer being treated as authoritative in parts of the Anglican Communion which has led to the current divisions.
Second, in calling us all to repent ‘’because repentance defines and shapes the Christian life and the life of the church”.
Third, in its drawing on the whole of Lambeth 1.10 to call us to provide appropriate pastoral care to all in our churches. In particular: ‘We affirm that every person is loved by God and we are determined to love as God loves. As Resolution 1.10 affirms, we oppose the vilification or demeaning of any person …’, and ‘we are thankful to God for all those who seek to live a life of faithfulness to God’s Word in the face of all forms of sexual temptation’.
Fourth, in its identification of the current crisis within the Anglican Communion as the failure of the Instruments of Communion to address matters in a timely or adequate manner, and the consequent need for a ‘reset’ of the Communion. The sense of grief, dismay and betrayal expressed by delegates from all around the Communion towards the English bishops and the Archbishop of Canterbury, was both palpable and profound.
Fifth, in its commitment of closer partnership between Gafcon and the Global South Fellowship of Anglicans (GSFA) on the basis of their shared fundamental commitments. Fostering greater collaboration between these two bodies as they work together for the reform and renewal of the Communion and the advance of the kingdom was the clear mood and mind of the delegates.
Finally, in its support expressed towards those like ourselves within the Church of England. We are thankful for these words of the Commitment which were a great encouragement to us: ‘We also continue to stand with and pray for those faithful Anglicans who remain within the Church of England. We support their efforts to uphold biblical orthodoxy and to resist breaches of Resolution I.10.
What is now clear is that, in the event of the General Synod endorsing blessings for people in sexually active relationships outside of heterosexual marriage, the Church of England will confirm she has “chosen to impair her relationship with the orthodox provinces in the Communion”. She will thereby ensure that the Anglican Communion will cease to exist in anything like its current form.
CEEC therefore urges the House and College of Bishops to step back from the brink in order urgently to explore a “settlement” in England that might avoid the Church of England suffering the same internal division as the Communion has experienced in the last two decades.
Given that about 45% of the General Synod has clearly articulated the conviction that the proposals of the bishops are unacceptable, urgent consideration needs to be given to a form of good differentiation involving structural re-organisation without theological compromise. Following this path could prevent the unity of the Church of England being torn apart in the same way that the Communion has been.