Friday, June 27, 2008

Musings on Jensen and Gafcon

I have been following all the discussion on GAFCON but we still do not seem to know what is going on behind closed doors. I am surprised that our local city paper, the Sydney Morning Herald, has gone quiet on the issue, considering our Archbishop, Peter Jensen, seems to have taken the running in preventing Akinola and his mates from making complete fools of themselves. As Jensen is obviously not a fool, I wonder that he has got himself linked up with these thugs. Perhaps he has begun to realise some truths about them. He seems to be backpedalling from making a complete break with the Anglican communion. Is he finally realising that his view of the church is completely different to theirs?
Did he see them in all their liturgical finery?
Did he realise they are really in favour of stoning gays and do not object to the murder of a few moslems?
Or did he mention lay presidency to them over coffee and get a sharp rebuke?

Sydney Diocese has nothing in common with these people except their hatred of homosexuals. Many of the bishops with whom he is fraternising have ordained women to the priesthood, something he regards with horror. He has apparently now stated that GAFCON 'is a coalition of people who would not necessarily work together'. I could have told him that months ago. He has stated it is not possible for the Sydney Diocese to secede from the Australian Province so what is he hoping to achieve?

The talk now is not of a schism but of forming a “church within a church”. This may be okay for conservative parishes within liberal dioceses but what about those of us forced to live and worship within the Diocese of Sydney but feeling completely alienated from it. Will Jensen allow us to form a “church within a church”?
I doubt it.
I have been interested in the discussion on Father Jake's site, that occurred while I was travelling, between my good friend Alcibiades and another person from Sydney who calls himself Obadiah Slope. Having read 'Barchester Chronicles' once and seen the TV series several times, that is not a name I would choose for myself, hardly an example of a godly cleric.
Obadiah seems to think that if wealthy parishes like St James, King Street were able to take their allegiance elsewhere, they would be balanced by evangelical parishes from other dioceses. I cannot imagine Sydney allowing the trade to be both ways.
I am fearful every time an anglo-catholic parish falls vacant. St Luke's Mosman has just had their vacancy filled by Canon Bruce McAteer. He was general secretary of the Australian General Synod but I cannot find anything else about his background. Nearby St Peter's, Cremorne is vacant and they are losing Rev Dr Erica Mathieson who is getting married and is to be inducted into the parish at Hackett (Diocese of Canberra-Goulburn). Sydney born, Erica was priested in Melbourne but I believe had to return to Sydney for family reasons where she has had to work as a deacon in both St Luke's and St Peter's while retired men have been needed to temporarily run the parishes. Good luck to her, Sydney's loss is Canberra's gain.
Now I hear Father James McPherson has moved from St Mark's Granville to Maryborough (where I worshipped last September) in the Diocese of Brisbane. They advertise themselves as the only high church in the Western region of Sydney. Will they remain so?
Obadiah tells me the Sydney bishops want to maintain the few anglo-catholic parishes for those who want to worship in them. St Mark's Granville will be a test.
He refers to St Paul's Burwood in his own local area. That also happens to be the area in which I grew up and worshipped (was also youth leader and occasional preacher in later years) at Holy Trinity Concord West. It was evangelical but Anglican. The rector criticised me for not regularly attending Holy Communion even though I spent most of Sunday at the church but like most young people did not want to get up early. Today their website advertises 'meetings', one is 'traditional' whatever that means. I cannot tell when there is a service of Holy Communion.
My parents were married in St Anne's, Strathfield and my sister wanted to be married there. We therefore attended the Eucharist every sunday for 6 months prior to the wedding and as a 17 year old, it was my first introduction to an anglo-catholic liturgy. My sister still jokes at the look on my face when I was first given a piece of paper (wafer) instead of bread at communion. This church has now joined the ranks of the evangelicals.
I do not know about St Paul's Burwood (I cannot find a website). Nearby St Luke's Concord is special to me as the church where we farewelled my mother. The rector will be retiring in November and I doubt it will remain a moderately high church let alone the centre for meetings of MOW (Movement for the Ordination of Women).

No, I cannot see the Diocese of Sydney allowing liberal and/or anglo-catholic parishes to flourish within its boundaries in exchange for being able to establish elsewhere, history has shown otherwise. I guess I will continue to be ashamed when travelling to say that I am an Anglican from Sydney.
As Father Jake said in the discussion on his blog
What is clear is that the group gathered in Jerusalem is not representative of Anglicanism. Their leaders consist of Abps. who plunder congregations from other Anglican Provinces, speak out against civil rights for Muslims, teach a literal interpretation of scripture, advocate for lay presiders at the Eucharist, and believe the rape and torture of gays and lesbians in their backyards is a cultural matter which is none of their concern.

If this is the future of Anglicanism, I don't want anything to do with it.


Doorman-Priest said...

"Archbishop, Peter Jensen, seems to have taken the running in preventing Akinola and his mates from making complete fools of themselves."

But a partial fool is still a fool when the sun goes down.

Boaz said...

Yes there are a lot of "Meetings" now. Don't the Jehovah's Witnesses have "Meetings", or "Meeting Halls"? No I remember now they have "Kingdom Halls".

It's the logical extension of when you worship God from a book that you have meetings.

Davis said...

Really, Gafcon can make all the pronouncements it wants to. As far as I'm concerned their pronouncements are worth nothing.

Brian R said...

I agree with you Davis, except that you do not have to live and worship in a Diocese where one of the leaders is the archbishop.

Davis said...

True, Brian, but you must defy him and his ilk.

June Butler said...

Brian, I don't know much about the Anglican Church in Australia, except that the Diocese of Sydney has become infamous for not being a friendly place for folks like you and me - but I don't live there. I can but pray. If there's something more I can do, let me know.

Davis said...

And this from ++Rowan Williams today:

"I believe that it is wrong to assume we are now so far apart that all those outside the GAFCON network are simply proclaiming another gospel. This is not the case; it is not the experience of millions of faithful and biblically focused Anglicans in every province. What is true is that, on all sides of our controversies, slogans, misrepresentations and caricatures abound. And they need to be challenged in the name of the respect and patience we owe to each other in Jesus Christ."