Gafcon: forthcoming online meetings with Archbishop Ben Kwashi
The Gafcon General Secretary was due to come to the UK for face-to-face meetings in March, but due to Covid, and Archbishop Ben’s other responsibilities, these meetings will now take place online. He wants to outline some aspects of vision and strategy for Gafcon, to bring his message of encouragement for bold and faithful mission, to talk about the forthcoming global Gafcon gathering in Rwanda in May 2023, and to listen to the experience and views of Gafcon-aligned faithful Anglicans in Britain and continental Europe. Please pray for this! We hope to send more information soon in a separate email.
If you have questions about Gafcon Global or Gafcon GBE, if you would like to participate in or host a local Gafcon group, or if you have any other suggestions, please contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The recent appointment of a man in a same-sex marriage as the new Archbishop of Canterbury’s Secretary for Appointments is the latest high profile example of the “compromise with secularism” in the English national church. This role does not just oversee the administration of how Bishops and other senior church figures are selected, but influences many decisions as well. A General Synod member questions whether the new Secretary’s private life, reported enthusiastically in the Church Times, will be a factor, either in his own opinions of potentially conservative candidates for senior roles, or in the way the Church of England is engaging with the issue of sexuality generally. The appointment illustrates how the ‘working theology’ of the Church of England has changed in practice, even if the official canons and liturgy remain the same for now.
Please pray for ongoing wisdom especially for orthodox Anglican leaders wanting to remain in communion with Canterbury, but concerned about these developments. Pray for global leaders weighing up whether to attend the Lambeth Conference in July, given more recent evidence of Canterbury’s efforts to include people with opposing views on the issue of sexual ethics.
Please pray for the meeting of the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) on January 19-20, and its outcome. Items on the agenda include the support of biblically faithful evangelicals around the region in evangelism and mission, looking with honesty at historic abuse of power within evangelical churches and networks, and continued evangelical unity as we consider different strategies in the face of increasing secularisation in church and society. Pray for Gafcon and ANiE representatives as they contribute in these ongoing discussions with CEEC.
The Anglican Network in Europe (ANiE) provides a Gafcon-authorised jurisdiction for a growing fellowship of Anglican churches outside the Canterbury-aligned structures. One of the oldest AMiE churches, Christ Church Wyre Forest in the West Midlands, will soon celebrate its 20th anniversary; one of the newest, Wellspring Church (ACE) in Pembrokeshire, will be inaugurated by Bishop Andy Lines at the end of January. More new congregations have formally joined the Network in the north-east; others for example in Oxford and east Kent are at the pioneering phase.
The AMiE and ACE Convocations have different constitutions, allowing for diversity on secondary issues, but continue to demonstrate gospel unity. Please pray for Bishop Andy as he leads the Network, and for his wife Mandy as she goes through painful cancer treatment. Pray for God’s blessing of physical, emotional and financial health for congregations, pastors and other leaders, as this movement makes progress in the twin task of reaching out with the gospel to unbelievers, and establishing a pathway to a safe place for those who feel they have to leave Canterbury-aligned Anglicanism.
A number of churches are preparing for outreach programmes during Lent, using the ‘Passion for Life’ programme and materials. Details can be found here.
News from our region and around the world
The Lausanne movement started in 1974 with a conference in the city of that name in Switzerland, under the Chairmanship of Billy Graham and John Stott, bringing together evangelicals from all over the world, to develop unity and new ideas about mission. An online conference in November focussed on Europe with its particular challenges of secularism and church decline, immigration, centuries-old inter-church conflicts, and difference in language and culture. New leaders from a number of different European countries are taking up the baton of developing ways of working together in mission. A report can be found here.
The Anglican Mainstream Myanmar appeal, launched in early December and promoted by Gafcon GBE, to support needy students and staff at Holy Cross Theological College, Yangon, has raised nearly £2000.
The principal, Dr Paul Myint Htet says: “2021 was terrible for Myanmar. But we are positive and we hope that 2022 is the year of blessings and favour for us. Thank you for all your kindness, concerns, and assistance over us.”
Online religious services and activities led by foreigners to be banned in China
The new law states that Chinese Christians need a state permit to publish religious content, which “should not incite subversion or oppose the communist party leadership”. The measures, which will affect churches, organisations and individuals, will come into force on 1 March 2022.
Christianity in the public square
Seven years on from the start of the original “Ashers Bakery” case, in which a Christian company was taken to court for refusing to ice a cake with the message “Support gay marriage”, the European Court has ruled in support of the UK Supreme Court, that no business or person can be compelled to express something that they do not agree with. See the report in Christian Today which includes helpful comments from Evangelical Alliance and Christian Institute.
Similarly, in another recent court victory, the NHS Trust which sacked a nurse for wearing a cross necklace, was told that employers cannot discriminate against employees for reasonable manifestations of faith in the workplace.
“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else… May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.”
1 Thessalonians 3:12-13
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