GAFCON Day 4

The fourth day of GAFCON was taken up, business wise, by continuing the seminars we have been in this week. As I said yesterday, I will cover the contents on my seminar in a later post, once I have the chance to absorb and consider it all.

Yesterday afternoon, we took an excursion to Nairobi National Park, which is a large game park on the outskirts of the City of Nairobi. I managed to get one of my two requested pictures for my son, a giraffe. Sadly, all the elephants had been taken to the wildlife orphanage in another part of the park. I managed to get good pictures some other animals, including zebras, ostriches, and hippos. Overall, the park was beautiful and it was nice to get out of the Cathedral and to see some of Nairobi on the way to and from the park.

After our safari, we went to the Carnivore restaurant for the gala dinner. It was a very nice and well done dinner in an open air tent, with Kenyan dancers performing traditional dances. I had a good time, sitting with the San Joaquin delegation and some others.

Tomorrow, we work on the draft statement which the conference will issue.

Advertisements

GAFCON Day 3

The third day of GAFCON began with Morning Prayer according to the usage of the Anglican Church in North America, with their Texts for Common Prayer, recently released. Following this, an Australian priest continued our study of Ephesians, talking about Chapter 2.

Tea, of course, was served. The Kenyans seem to place a large social emphasis on drinking tea together, and at least here at the conference, have been putting a large effort. There are no disposable cups in sight, and there are saucers and cookies (ahem… Biscuits) in abundance.

I spent Day 3 in the Islam seminar with Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali. There is much to say and much to think about. I plan on doing a separate post at the end of the conference about Nazir-Ali’s seminar.

Some general observations:

1-My own Anglican tradition, Anglo-Catholicism, isn’t a major player at GAFCON. The Anglican Church of Nigeria is High Church, and conservative with the Prayer Book, but Evangelical Anglicanism seems to be almost universal. Indeed, there was a small workshop on reconciling Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics on Monday, a fact to which much surprise was expressed by some delegates.

2- There is no agreed position on Women in Orders. Kenya ordains women. Nigeria does not. North America is still discerning this. Those of you who know me know my position.

3-Part of the East African Revival was holiness of life, particularly among clergy. One of the disciplines that clergy in this part of the world observe is complete abstinence from smoking and alcohol. Some of our delegations have observed this. Some have not.

Tomorrow, we visit Nairobi National Park. I am on assignment to bring back a picture of a giraffe and an Elephant for my son.

GAFCON Day 2 (pt 2)

The second day of GAFCON continued with some very good speakers and presentations. Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali started us off by discussing the three major things that GAFCON seeks to address. They are:

1-Aggressive Secularism
2-Radical Islam
3-Syncretism

He noted that Aggressive Secularism likes to uphold certain values, such as human dignity, equality, and freedom, but that it doesn’t know why. These, of course, are all Christian values, instilled into Western Culture by Christianity. However, because the West now tries to ignore and suppress Christianity, these values have changed. When the West says that it like wants to uphold the value of human dignity, it now upholds radical autonomy. Likewise, equality is no longer the equality of all individuals but is rather the equality of all lifestyles.

This suppression of the core of Western Civilization has created a vacuum. Bishop Nazir-Ali noted that nature abhors a vacuum. He left us with the question of what would fill the vacuum.

Fr. Mike Ovie, the principal of Oak Hill Theological College in London spoke next, giving an address entitled, “The Grace of God or the World of the West?” Briefly, this address drew lines between the secularised world which the West is trying to create out of the old Christian West and life lived in Christ. He drew parallels between the Jerusalem Declaration and the Barmen Declaration.

I will post the text of his address if possible.

Bishop Nazir-Ali commented next that, “Anthropology without Theology will always go wrong.”

The director of the Barnabas fund spoke, commenting about Christian Persecution throughout the Middle East and Africa. He told us of events which were happening even as the conference met, of Syrian men being killed and Syrian women being raped and killed for not converting to Islam when they tried to escape the civil war. Hauntingly, he told us that the bishops of the Syrian Church believe that the ancient Syrian Church is finished. He estimates that within a year, this very ancient church will no longer exist.

Our next speaker was the Primate and Archbishop of the Anglican Church of South Sudan. He spoke of the war Sudanese Christians have been fighting for 55 years. He gave thanks to Jesus for giving the Sudanese Christians their country. What he said next was heartbreaking. The Archbishop said that they had not fought the war just for themselves, but to keep a barrier between the Islamic Middle East and East Africa, because, as he noted, the eventual goal of Islam was to extend all the way to Cape Town, at the southern end of Africa.

More addresses were given throughout the afternoon, speaking of the advancement of Islam and Secularism in England, North America, and here in Kenya.

We closed our day with dinner and a special guest, the governor of Nairobi County.

GAFCON Day 2 (pt. .1)

This is the first full day of GAFCON. I’m currently sitting off to the side in All Saints Cathedral, watching the delegates, volunteers, and Bishops gather for the opening Mass. I’m told that about three-fourths of the Anglican Communion is present . It certainly sounded so yesterday when they read off the countries with delegates present. If all goes to plan, all the bishops present will process in at the beginning of the Eucharist, which will be a very visual reminder of this. There are a number of North American Bishops present; I have personally seen Mark Lawrence, William Murdoch, Donald Harvey, Charlie Masters, John Guernsey, David Hicks, Jack Iker, Eric Menees, Ray Sutton, Robert Duncan (though the archbishop had to return to the states for emergency dental surgery, and will miss the conference) and others whom I recognize, but don’t know. At Mass on Sunday, Phil and I had a bishop sit next to us; he introduced himself as Archbishop Peter Jenson, Sydney, ret.

As we came onto the cathedral grounds this morning, we were informed of the various seminars which we have been placed into. I was happy to be placed into a seminar entitled, “The Challenge of Islam: The Gospel, Islam, and Freedom,” which will be taught by Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali.

Anglican 1000 Breakout Sessions (A1K post three)

I attended three breakout sessions while at Anglican 1000.

 

First, I sat in on a presentation by ChurchPlant Media on 10 Myths of Church Websites. This was very interesting and let to much thought on my part about the website of the Parish I serve at. Our’s is not a very advanced site, being coded in what appears to be a simple form of HTML4 (I think) and having very static content. ChurchPlant Media has a very nice product, but small parishes might not be able to afford it. Check them out: http://www.churchplantmedia.com/

Second, I sat in on a Social Media discussion. We talked about how to set up Facebook ads and social media campaigns. Very much an important part of church planting. The presenter suggested using social media not just for outreach but also for communication with one’s congregation. A good idea, I think, but somewhat difficult for older congregations.

 

My third breakout was on Jurisdictional Church Planting. The presenter was a member of the ACNA’s Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic’s Church Planting Committee. He presented some interesting ideas and models for church planting. One which I like, though I dont think he gave a specific name for it, involved planting multiple churches in a single area simultaneously or sequentially. He gave several reasons for this, including the fact that multiple churches in an area “raises the spiritual temperature”  of the area. Further, he gave the example of two parishes planted by Falls Church, Virginia  that were mere blocks from each other. Both had grown to be very large and had two very different pastors. They were not so different, however, that they were not complementary. Thus, the option for either parish exists for visitors. Thus, two plants in the same city could work and pray together, share resources, clergy, sponsor joint youth groups, acolyte and choir training, etc. At the same time, one could have an Evangelical bent and the other an Anglo-Catholic bent (though, I think the two are very compatible, but that is a story for another post). One plant could have a young priest, the other a more experienced one. This could be beneficial in several ways.

Anglican 1000 (post 1)

This is the first in a series of posts from Anglican 1000, the Anglican Church in North America Church Planting Conference. (Pictures will be posted after the fact.) 

 

 

Last Night, we had the opening Eucharist and sermon by Archbishop Duncan. This morning, we had Morning Prayer and some time to mill around and discuss things with each other and the various venders that are present. The group I’m traveling with made a special stop this morning, eating breakfast  at Chik-Fil-A before we got to Church of the Resurrection, the parish in Wheaton, IL where the conference is being held.

 

Observations thus far:

1- ACNA seems to be incredibly Evangelical/Charismatic.

2- ACNA still ordains women as priests (in some dioceses) and deacons (some dioceses).

3- There are a lot of young people, both clerical and lay here. They probably outnumber older persons. Furthermore, the gathering seems to be very diverse, both in terms of gender and national origin.