Gafcon and women bishops: just a tiff or a real rift?

Sep 27, 2021 by

by David Baker, Christian Today:

What’s going on with Gafcon? The global organisation of conservative-minded believers formed in reaction to sexual liberalism in parts of the Anglican Communion seems to be experiencing a bit of a turbulent year.

First, a few months ago, there was a row over whether “the deadly ‘virus’ of homosexuality” – as one African archbishop put it – had “infiltrated” the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) – Gafcon’s branch in that part of the world.

Now there appears to be fresh difficulty brewing over the consecration of women as bishops in some parts of Gafcon, with it even being labelled a “salvation issue” by opponents.

The dispute over homosexuality was fairly quickly healed, with the Church of Nigeria and ACNA issuing a joint statement underlining four key areas of agreement. It turned out the row was to do with the distinction between same-sex attraction and same-sex acts. This is an understanding which is clearly delineated in Western church culture, but less so in African evangelical congregations.

But one wonders whether this latest brouhaha can be brought to such a swift conclusion. And here’s why: in 2017 the primates of Gafcon recommended that all its constituent provinces should “retain the historic practice of the consecration only of men as bishops until and unless a strong consensus to change emerges after prayer, consultation and continued study of Scripture.”

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