… the GAFCON Primates will prayerfully consider their response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s letter. They recognize that the crisis in the Communion is not primarily a problem of relationships and cultural context, but of false teaching which continues without repentance or discipline.
Consistent with this position, they have previously advised the Archbishop of Canterbury that they would not attend any meeting at which The Episcopal Church of the United States or the Anglican Church of Canada were represented, nor would they attend any meeting from which the Anglican Church in North America was excluded.
Although separation seems to be the ultimate goal of GAFCON, taking over the Communion from the heretics would be fine, too. If that isn’t possible, being thrown out of the Communion will also work, and it has the added advantage of making martyrs of the dissidents.
Thus, GAFCON engages in extortion: ACNA must be represented at the meeting and The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada must not be.
One wonders just what has been said in conversations between the Archbishop of Canterbury and GAFCON leaders. The Lambeth press release shows numerous signs of the archbishop’s attempt to appease the militants—the invitation of Foley Beach, the emphasis on scripture, the invitation to participants to set the agenda. Clearly, his efforts have not been enough.
This puts Welby on the hot seat. The GAFCON threat is not an idle one, as GAFCON has shown that its bishops are willing to forego attendance at meetings in protest. Reconciliation, which is likely impossible anyway, is logically impossible if both sides are not at the table. If Welby gives in in this game of chicken, the Communion is done for. In that case, the Americans and Canadians should insist on attending anyway or withdraw from the Communion completely. Either case creates another crisis. If Welby resists GAFCON extortion and the GAFCON primates do not attend, the meeting will either be pointless or an opportunity to create a new Communion with churches willing to live peaceably with one another. Of course, GAFCON might not carry through on its threat, but that seems unlikely.
Welby should hold his ground. Stay tuned.