Commentary on the 2018 GAFCON Letter to the Churches

Jul 15, 2018 by

by Stephen Noll, Contending Anglican:

Part Two: Coming to One Mind:

This is the second of seven posts explaining the Letter to the Churches. The first post can be found here.

For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…” (Acts 15:28). How does a church council go about coming to one mind?” What an awesome task! The role of the Conference Statement, it seems to me, is to speak to those assembled and to speak for them to the wider church and world in the name of God. The role of the Statement Group is to so listen to the Conference Assembly that it can propose words for the Conference to speak. Again, an awesome task.

It is even more complicated than that. Gafcon has discrete hierarchies that properly play a role in any message. The Primates, for one, exercise a particular oversight within the movement. And at Gafcon 2018 two other bodies came into play: the Panel of Advisors and the Synodical Council.

The Panel of Advisors emerged this year from concern that the Primates Council by itself was too “thin” as a governing structure and that a Primate might exercise a kind of “personal prelature,” without support of his Province, which might be overturned by his successor. In 2016, the Primates themselves set up a “Task Force on Structure” to consider this matter, and the Task Force in turn recommended that each Province have a “Panel of Assistors,” now called Panel of Advisors, comprising one bishop, one other clergy member, and one layperson. In addition, as Gafcon has developed non-Provincial Branches, each of them is likewise represented by three Advisors. The Panel of Advisors is a subsidiary body and, as its name indicates, advisory to the Primates Meeting, but in meeting with the Primates at and between Conferences, it can bring a broad perspective on the life of the wider church.

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