Jerusalem Declaration Signals New Reality for Anglican Communion

imageAnglican leaders representing a clear majority of the world’s practising Anglicans, joyously affirmed the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) Statement and the Jerusalem Declaration at the end of the conference on Sunday June 29.  The document addresses the crisis gripping the Anglican Communion over scriptural authority.  It calls for the creation of a new council of primates overseeing a volunteer fellowship committed to mission and biblical Anglicanism as well as a new structure of accountability based on the Jerusalem Declaration.  It also signals the move of most of the world’s practicing Anglicans into a post-colonial reality, where the Archbishop of Canterbury is recognized for his historic role, but not as the only arbiter of what it means to be Anglican.

The primates’ council will initially be formed by the six Anglican primates participating in the GAFCON from Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Southern Cone, Uganda and West Africa. Also the Anglican Church of Tanzania delegation to GAFCON is in agreement with the statement but will need the endorsement of their House of Bishops before their archbishop join the council. The primates council is tasked with recognizing and authenticating “confessing Anglican jurisdictions, clergy and congregations and to encourage all Anglicans to promote the gospel and defend the faith.”  From the outset, the statement recognizes the “desirability of territorial jurisdiction for provinces and dioceses of the Anglican Communion except in areas where churches and leaders have denied the orthodox faith or are preventing its spread.”  Speaking specifically to Anglican Christians in North America, the statement goes on to say that GAFCON believes “time is now ripe for the formation of a province in North America for the federation currently known as Common Cause Partnership to be recognised by the Primates’ Council.”

The statement describes those participating in this new movement as “A fellowship of confessing Anglicans.”  It asserts the intention of all those involved to remain Anglican.  “Our fellowship is not breaking away from the Anglican Communion. We, together with many other faithful Anglicans throughout the world, believe the doctrinal foundation of Anglicanism, which defines our core identity as Anglicans, is expressed in these words: The doctrine of the Church is grounded in the Holy Scriptures and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular, such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal.”

Finally, the statement makes clear that worldwide Anglicanism has now entered a post-colonial phase.  Instead of continuing to rely solely on the colonial structures that have served the Anglican Communion so poorly during the present crisis, it states the movement’s intent to accept all those as Anglicans who affirm the Anglican standard of faith.  “While acknowledging the nature of Canterbury as an historic see, we do not accept that Anglican identity is determined necessarily through recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury.”

The GAFCON Statement concludes: “The primary reason we have come to Jerusalem and issued this declaration is to free our churches to give clear and certain witness to Jesus Christ. It is our hope that this Statement on the Global Anglican Future will be received with comfort and joy by many Anglicans around the world who have been distressed about the direction of the Communion. We believe the Anglican Communion should and will be reformed around the biblical gospel and mandate to go into all the world and present Christ to the nations.”

The Jerusalem Declaration was produced at GAFCON with the participation of all 1148 delegates who came on pilgrimage to Jerusalem June 22 – 29. They represent more than 35 million of practicing Anglicans worldwide.

Posted June 29, 2008