Australia’s chapter of the Evangelical Fellowship of the Anglican Communion (EFAC) publishes a quarterly print magazine, Essentials. The Winter 2016, just released in print but not yet available online, includes a page 1 article by Bishop Gary Nelson of North West Australia reporting on the recent Australian Bishops’ Conference. Nelson points out that
…below the warm greetings and shared informal moments are serious tensions arising from our theological differences.
What is the most serious tension or difficulty that Nelson sees? Amongst many (he lists responses to the Viability and Structures General Synod report, the Bathurst financial crisis and the need for continued vigilance over Faithfulness in Service) he turns finally to the differences over adherence to the Bishops’ Protocols especially as they have been applied to matters of human sexuality, what he refers to as “the elephant in the room”.
Each year there has been a recommitment to [the bishops’ protocols], but recently they have come into question. This has arisen over the homosexual issue in the Diocese of Gippsland. When the agenda for the meeting first appeared there was no place provided for discussing this very significant and divisive matter. This was changed, but left to near the end. Our differences were highlighted when the possible plebiscite on redefining marriage was discussed. Very few bishops were prepared to give unequivocal support for traditional marriage as the Bible presents, and as our Anglican doctrine still maintains. For me, another indicator of how close we are to the precipice of denominational division.