by Mary Ann Mueller, Virtueonline
Much has changed since the original Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) met in Jerusalem in early summer of 2008. Yet much stays the same. In June 2008, when nearly 1200 Anglicans gathered in the Holy Land in the shadow and memory of Christ's earthly life, the Anglican Communion had been thrown into disarray as an opening and practicing homosexual, Vicky Gene Robinson had been elevated to the episcopate firmly clutching the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire's crozier. Katharine Jefferts Schori, too, had burst through the stained glass ceiling to become the first female primate in Anglicanism. Both events shook the Anglican Communion to its very core. The very fabric of Anglicanism had been torn – rent asunder – and the healing of Anglicanism continues to slip through fingers like water and sand.
Now as GAFCON II opens in Nairobi, Kenya, Bishop Robinson has retired as a sitting Episcopal bishop. He has moved to Washington, DC to become the Bishop-in-Residence at St. Thomas on DuPont Circle, apparently leaving his "partner" behind in New Hampshire. The outspoken bishop continues to globe trot with his LGBT message. On Oct. 17 he tweeted, "In London. Breakfast with new Archbishop of Canterbury this morning at Lambeth Palace, and Morning Prayer in 13th c. chapel." Lambeth Palace has refused to comment. "The meeting to which you refer was a private meeting and therefore we can't offer any comment," Jan McFarlane the Acting Press Secretary to the Archbishop of Canterbury replied to VOL's inquiry.
Three days later, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby made an 8,000 mile flying trip to Africa – while on his way to a Porvoo Communion Primates' Meeting in Iceland – to schmooze with the gathering GAFCON bishops and provide for some photo ops while quickly preaching at All Saints Cathedral's 9:30 and 11:30 Sunday morning services. The new Archbishop of Canterbury was all smiles when he posed with American Archbishop Robert Duncan, who has been summarily marginalized by the Anglican powers that be in the western hemisphere.
Meanwhile Katharine Jefferts Schori's ecclesial reign of terror, which has seen Mitregate, Bishopsgate, UTOgate and the disposing of at least 700 Episcopal clergy, is drawing to a close. The Episcopal Church is slated to elect a new presiding bishop at the 2015 General Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah. Since the first GAFCON meeting many global south Anglican primates have refused to sit at table with her, break bread with her, or even communicate with her. Anglican bishops and primates alike have been no shows to major Anglican Communion events such as Lambeth Conference, the Primates' Meeting, or the Anglican Consultative Council confabs because the Episcopal Presiding Bishop was scheduled to participate.
Since the first GAFCON, gathering four more Episcopal dioceses have realigned and left The Episcopal Church for greener spiritual pastures including the dioceses of Pittsburgh, Fort Worth, Quincy and South Carolina. The Diocese of San Joaquin realigned before GAFCON I took place – a foretaste of things to come.