In a key address given tonight to the rearranged Gafcon Australasia conference, chair of Gafcon Australia Bishop Richard Condie has announced that the organisation is moving ahead with plans to support faithful Anglicans.
Bishop Condie described the 2015 formation of Gafcon Australia as a potential “break glass in case of emergency” organisation, responding to the emergency of the “revisionist agenda” of a “different gospel”. He spoke of the growing need to follow through on their Commitment 2020 made the previous year to care for faithful Anglicans alienated from their own dioceses particularly after last year’s Appellate Tribunal opinion which had effectively “officially changed” the doctrine of marriage in the Anglican Church of Australia.
“With great sadness and regret, we realise that many faithful Anglican clergy and lay people will no longer be able to remain as members of the ACA if changes allowed by the Appellate Tribunal majority opinion take place in their dioceses”, Bishop Condie said.
“We love these people and don’t want them to be lost to the Anglican fold.” he said, “We want them to be recognised and supported as they love and serve their own communities.”
Bishop Condie emphasised Gafcon Australia’s ongoing commitment to promote orthodox Anglicanism, to respond to issues as they arise and to establish alternative oversight for those faithful believers and churches who found themselves estranged from their dioceses and bishops because as those leaders and sees had moved away from the gospel. He told all those watching online that they had come to a key moment, saying:
The emergency is here and we have broken the glass
Plans for alternative oversight were announced, including the formation of a company that will eventually become an Extra-Provincial Diocese made up of parishes that felt forced to leave their dioceses. The initial company will have a board of three directors; a retired bishop, a member of clergy and a layperson. The company would prepare canons to govern the church entity. Churches who have left the Anglican Church of Australia could become affiliate churches, supported by the company. Oversight would initially be provided by the bishop acting as director of the company.
Sufficient churches (approx. 10-12) would see the formation of an extra-provincial diocese who would become members of the company in the place of the directors. They would meet in synod to agree upon and adopt canons and the new diocese would be recognised by the Gafcon Primates and fellowship extended by other dioceses in the Anglican Church of Australia.
Speaking to davidould.net, a senior leader of Gafcon Australia was at pains to point out that they were “not setting up something to lure people out, but responding to those who have left” and that this was not a schismatic action but a response to the schism of others whose false doctrine had caused faithful christians in the Anglican Church of Australia to feel alienated from their homes. They also told davidould.net that this action was not something new, but “putting flesh on the bones of a commitment that we’ve already made”.
Bishop Condie also announced a new CEO for Gafcon Australia, the Rev. Michael Kellahan (currently acting rector at St Annes Ryde and formerly director of Freedom for Faith). Kellahan spoke of the ongoing need for Gafcon Australia pointing to the fact that many faithful anglicans are close to leaving the Anglican Church of Australia and the need to support them as well as the ongoing task to “give a loving witness to the Lord Jesus in this place” adding, ‘the gospel that Jesus is Lord needs to be proclaimed and defended”.
Archbishop of Sydney, Kanishka Raffel, addressed the online conference speaking from Colossians 1. He called Australian Anglicans, facing what he described as “some bishops and synods pursuing an agenda of change” and potentially discouraged by the situation to “look to [Jesus] who is the image of the invisible God”.
The full media statement from Gafcon Australia is below,