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Conservative Anglican bishops and leaders met in a weeklong church conference held in Jerusalem due to growing concern over the U.S. Episcopal and Canada’s Anglican clergy undermining the authority of the Bible.
The leaders at the June 22-29 conference, known as Gafcon (Global Anglican Future Conference), represented the concerns of 35 million Anglicans—nearly half of the church membership—who feel the West is incorrectly interpreting Scripture along liberal lines. One of the main issues under discussion was the ordination of a U.S. bishop who had openly declared he was a homosexual. The growing acceptance of homosexuals into the church and the ministry is causing a widening rift between traditionalists and liberals—a tear that could cause a permanent division.
In its final statement, Gafcon conservatives complained that a “false gospel undermines the authority of God’s Word,” and that many of its proponents promote “a variety of sexual preferences and immoral behavior as a universal human right. It claims God’s blessing for same-sex unions over against the biblical teaching on holy matrimony. In 2003 this false gospel led to the consecration of a bishop living in a homosexual relationship.”
Homosexuality and lesbianism are seen as a major factor in the dispute to determine what a true Anglican is and who remains focused on the true values as outlined in the Bible. Liberals in the church feel that active homosexuality should be ruled out as a sin, while conservatives feel that homosexual clergy should not be accepted and that the Bible should not be rewritten along liberal lines.
Opposing sides hope the rift in the church can be healed at the upcoming Lambeth conference, to be held July 16 to August 4 in the United Kingdom, at the University of Kent. The conference takes place every ten years at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
But many bishops are already boycotting Lambeth due to what is seen as an irresolvable matter, which the Gafcon final statement, seemed to express: “Sadly, this crisis has torn the fabric of the Communion in such a way that it cannot simply be patched back together.”
It also stated, “We grieve for the spiritual decline in the most economically developed nations, where the forces of militant secularism and pluralism are eating away the fabric of society and churches are compromised and enfeebled in their witness.”