GAFCON III – What a week!

The above photograph was taken on the Temple Steps in Jerusalem, as the delegates at Gafcon III gathered together for a celebratory service and to have a photo taken ’10 Years On!’.  You can read more about the significance of this global photo shoot here.

It was a joy to be in Jerusalem, and hopefully this blog post will allow you to taste something of the flavour of Gafcon III and to place the conference statement, written in the form of “A Letter to the Churches”, in context.  (Also, I have taken most of this post from a friends reflection and she has let me ‘borrow’ what she said!)

“We will proclaim Christ faithfully to the nations!” 

This was the rallying cry repeated over and over again by the 1,950, or so, delegates at Gafcon 2018 and there is no doubt in my mind that it was more than a slogan.  This was a declaration of intent.  Gafcon is not a conference where people come to moan about the state of the church – instead it was a conference where those facing persecution and under pressure to conform, were reminded of the glorious truth of the gospel and inspired to return to their corner of the globe ready to share the greatest news of all with those they live among.  It has certainly been a personal challenge to me as I have met with friends and neighbours – will I proclaim the gospel to them?

Additionally, it caused me to think about us at the Windsor Fellowship Church, are we in maintenance mode or missional mode.  A church in maintenance mode is easy, predictable, everything is the same.  In contrast being in missional mode is hard, sacrificial, tiring.  Are we willing to proclaim Christ faithfully to Windsor?  If we are it’ll be hard, but it’ll also be glorious.

Global Anglican Futures Conference: Gafcon lives up to its billing.

Gafcon is Global: There were delegates from over 50 countries; from France to Fiji, Mexico to Myanmar.  Some national delegations were made up of hundreds of bishops, clergy and laity, (click here to see the Ugandans in fine song on the plane to Jerusalem) other countries were represented by lone voices, but to hear the Lord’s Prayer spoken in over 100 languages simultaneously was to experience something of what it means for God to be calling people from every nation, tribe, people and language to praise his holy name.

Gafcon is also developing truly global teams, networks and leadership, which overturn the sometimes neo-colonial expectations of the traditional Anglican structures.  It was a joy to have preachers, presenters and seminar leaders from six continents sharing their wisdom with us.

Gafcon is Anglican: In England we often downplay our Anglican connections – but at Gafcon the benefits of belonging to a biblically based, historically grounded, episcopally led global family, with a shared liturgy that allows us to worship together, is something to be celebrated.  The message was clearly stated in the “Letter to the Churches”, published on the final day: “We are not leaving the Anglican Communion; we are the majority of the Anglican Communion seeking to remain faithful to our Anglican heritage.”

This is an Anglicanism which is based on a joint confession of biblical faith and a desire to support one another as we proclaim the true gospel to the nations.  It stands in contrast to those seeking institutional unity based on archaic structures.

Gafcon is looking to the Future: Many commentators have remarked on the ‘maturity’ of Gafcon III and there is no doubt that this conference has moved forward in tone, content, organisation and ambition.

In 2004, the Windsor Report warned that the proposed actions of The Episcopal Church would ‘tear the fabric of our Communion at the deepest level”.  In the intervening years, faithful Anglicans have prayed, protested and pleaded in their attempts to persuade the traditional Instruments of Communion (The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates’ Meeting, the Lambeth Conference and the Anglican Consultative Council) to uphold discipline and restore order.  Their efforts have been ignored and, emboldened by the lack of discipline, other provinces have followed the revisionist path, which in turn has increased the size and depth of the problem.

The “Letter to the Churches” states:

“During the past twenty years, the Instruments of Communion have not only failed to uphold godly discipline but their representatives have refused to recognise our concerns and have chosen instead to demean Gafcon as a one-issue pressure group and accuse it of promoting schism, where in fact the schismatics are those who have departed from the teaching of the Bible and the historic doctrine of the Church. Slogans such as “walking together” and “good disagreement” are dangerously deceptive in seeking to persuade people to accommodate false teaching in the Communion.”

The letter expresses grief and repentance, but this is no outward display of hand-wringing, instead those present accepted that it was Gafcon’s responsibility to ensure the future health of the Anglican Communion:

  • Through the formation of a Panel of Advisors (made up of lay, clergy and episcopal representation of the Gafcon Provinces and Branches) to meet with the Gafcon Primates as a Synodical Council.
  • Through the creation of nine global networks to expand Gafcon’s ability to proclaim Christ faithfully to the nations in both word and deed (see below).
  • Through a change in leadership:
    • Archbishop Foley Beach will replace Archbishop Nicholas Okoh as the Chairman of the Primates’ Council at the next meeting of the Gafcon Primates in April 2019.
    • Archbishop Ben Kwashi will take over from Archbishop Peter Jensen as General Secretary of Gafcon in December 2018.  He will be assisted by regional representatives, including our very own Bishop Andy Lines, who will be responsible for Gafcon’s work in Europe.
  • Through a final plea to the Archbishop of Canterbury to consider carefully who he invites to Lambeth 2020 and an agreement that, if the guest list includes those Provinces that have turned their back on historic Anglican doctrine and ignores those who are seeking to stand firm, Gafcon bishops are urged not to attend.

Gafcon is truly a Conference: One of the most extraordinary things about Gafcon is that it is a proper conference – the delegates are able to confer with one another – and their voices are listened to.  Those with responsibility for writing the conference ‘statement’ worked long into the night on Thursday, as they sought to consider every delegations’ response to the ‘Draft Statement’.  What emerged was the “Letter to the Churches” – a letter that I hope will encourage and challenge us all and one that we will wish to share widely for discussion and prayer.

Finally, one of the remarkable (and perhaps unique, in Anglican circles) elements of Gafcon III was the global participation enabled through social media and the live stream video output.  165,000 unique individuals tuned into the Livestream (and this doesn’t count the 5 million Nigerians who watched it on their local Anglican TV network), and more than 3/4 million individuals engaged with the official Gafcon Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds (#gafcon2018).  These are extraordinary numbers, even more so when one realises they do not take into account those who viewed content after someone else shared it, or after the conference closed or heard about Gafcon through the thousands of unofficial tweets and posts by delegates!

If all this makes you feel as if you might have missed out – do not fear – the official video, photos, news and blog is all there waiting to be watched, viewed, read and shared.

Video – https://vimeo.com/gafcon
Photos – https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/albums
News – https://www.gafcon.org/recent-news
Blog – https://www.gafcon.org/jerusalem-2018/blog

So, if you are still reading after all that, what can we pray?

There is of course, much to give thanks for – God poured out his blessing on the conference in so many ways – allowing us to bear witness to the truth of Psalm 33:
Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
life forevermore.

I have also been reminded of Nehemiah chapter 6.  Gafcon is, I believe, a ‘great project’ and one that the enemy would love to destroy through distraction (6:1-4), fake news (6:5-8) and intimidation (6:10-13) – our prayer for those who are leading this movement, both globally and locally, must be the same as Nehemiah’s:
They were all trying to frighten us, thinking,
“Their hands will get too weak for the work,
and it will not be completed.”
But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.”
Nehemiah 6:9

 

Christmas is coming

Christmas is almost here – who can you invite to come along to one of our events?

Christmas is a great time of year. Fun, parties, presents, Brussels sprouts. And, of course, the celebration of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Plus, Christmas is a great time of year because it’s an easy time to talk to our friends about Jesus. People are more receptive to come along to a carol service or nativity. And that is wonderful because we want our friends to hear about Jesus.

In our sermons from Hebrews we’ve been reminded that Jesus is the only way to be saved. Jesus is stratospherically superior to any other option. He is the unique means of salvation, and that’s what our friends need to hear. So, please do invite a horde of people to come along to our various Christmas events.

Also, we have bundles of flyers to deliver around Windsor, so please do help with this distribution. And why not take a bundle to give out to your neighbours? On our Facebook page we have all our Christmas events so, if you are socially media minded, you could invite them that way.

Friday 1st December – Christmas Wreath Making – Ladies’ guest event – A fun, relaxed evening making Christmas wreaths. This is a ticketed event. Please contact Nicki Matthew if you’d like to come.

Saturday 9th December 6pm – Carols…in a pub! – Great fun, great carols, great atmosphere – Duchess of Cambridge pub – If you were there last year, you won’t need convincing to come along. If you weren’t there, ask someone who was and they’ll tell you it was brilliant!

Sunday 10th December 4pm – All Age Nativity – Everyone who wants a part is guaranteed a role – last year we had babies to granddads dressed up! A great event for all the family.

Saturday 16th December 7.30pm – Church Christmas Social – Beech House, Hermitage Lane, SL4 4Z. Bring a wrapped Christmas ornament and we will play a silly game!

Sunday 17th December 4pm – Carols by (some) candlelight – Traditional service of lessons and carols – the youth centre can actually look Christmassy!

Sunday 24th December 4pm – Low key carols – Relaxed Christmas Eve service.

Monday 25th December 10am – Christmas Day Celebration – Hopkins’ house – Beech House, Hermitage Lane, SL4 4AZ. If in Windsor, please join the church family in celebrating the birth of our Saviour.

Regards,

Pete Matthew
Senior Minister, Windsor Fellowship Church
07919 577676
www.windsorfellowship.com

A Monk’s Tale

“A hugely entertaining hour” The Times

A Monk’s Tale
Saturday 11th November
7.30pm-9.30pm
Windsor Youth & Community Centre, Alma Road, Windsor, SL4 3HD

Tickets £10 – More info or to book: [email protected]

This show is about Martin Luther. And it’s for people who aren’t quite sure which Luther we’re talking about. With a feeling of Horrible Histories and Monty Python, A Monk’s Tale helps the audience understand the unfamiliar medieval mindset, and exactly what Luther was trying to do with his 95 Theses, which sparked one of the most significant movements in history: the Reformation.

The show is light, accessible and funny, using sketches, and songs to explain the specifics of the story: the indulgences, purgatory, the sacraments and theological disputes of the period. As the play unfolds, the audience will be informed and challenged as well as entertained and amused.

Suitable for all ages and all faiths, as well as skeptics, the fast-paced hour-long show also covers the Wycliffe and the Lollards, popes, princes and the seismic changes brought on by the internet of its time, the Printing Press.

“I laughed a lot… energetically choreographed, and packed with lyrical wit… smartly-judged art.” – Christian Today

“A great deal of silliness make for a hugely entertaining hour that revels in the absurdities of one of the biggest religious arguments in history.”
– Damian Arnold, The Times

Is the Church of England Disappearing?

New church in Windsor exploring key life questions surrounding origin, meaning, morality and destiny

WINDSOR, UK. — 22 September 2015 Headlines shout that the Church of England is fading; that it is no longer relevant. But throughout the land there are many efforts to revitalise the church with old church buildings being re-opened and communities being re-formed.

Here in Windsor there is just such a new expression of the church. The Windsor Fellowship is a new initiative within the Church of England that gives people an opportunity to explore the Christian faith in an informal setting. Designed for those of all beliefs and none – and for those with intellectual objections and heartfelt concerns about the Christian worldview – Windsor Fellowship aims to bring meaningful discussion and answers to some of the many questions that people are asking.

Curt and Janice Hopkins

Curt and Janice Hopkins

Long-term Windsor residents, Curt and Janice Hopkins, had a vision to create a community within the Church of England that would give people the space to rediscover their faith outside of a traditional church setting.

“This all began after we ran a Parenting Teenagers course in our home,” stated Curt Hopkins. “We found that lots of people were struggling with the same things as we were: busy-ness, instilling our values in the next generation, building character in our children, and trying to balance everything!”

Janice Hopkins said, “We are grateful that we have had so much support from friends and local clergy and that what began as a simple dream has now grown to up to 50 people coming to our Sunday afternoon meeting.”

The fellowship is officially launching at its new venue, the Windsor Youth and Community Centre (Alma Road, SL4 3HD) on Sunday, 4 October at 4 pm. All are invited to come to the service and stay for a special tea and cake reception afterwards.

About Windsor Fellowship

The Windsor Fellowship, as part of the Church of England, is committed to studying the Bible and deepening our understanding of how biblical truth impacts modern life – work, play and relationships.

We encourage people to ask questions and our doors are open to all. We are all on a faith journey and we invite you to join us as we seek authentic and relevant wisdom for our lives.

Windsor Fellowship is a part of the Church of England as a missional community of Latimer Minster in partnership with St Mary’s Maidenhead.

For more information:

Windsor Fellowship
Curt Hopkins
[email protected]

PDF Version: Windsor Fellowship Press Release, 22 Sep 2015

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