GAFCON is a conference of orthodox Anglicans who oppose the direction of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada--particularly on issues of sexuality. It is taking place now in Jerusalem. For up to the hour reporting, go the Lead. For a thoughtful orthodox Episcopalian comment on GAFCON, check out what Father Dan Martins has to say on his blog here.
Ruth Gledhill, the religion reporter for the Times is in Jerusalem, and also offers good coverage. She has a fascinating blog post today about Iain Baxter, the oly openly gay man at GAFCON:
In the early 1990s, when he was in his 20s, Iain Baxter spoke passionately at the Methodist Conference in the UK arguing the case for chastity outside marriage and fidelity within it. His speech helped sway the conference and that became its official policy, although in practice the Methodists are more liberal. Iain became a Christian at 14, at about the same time he was starting to understand that he was gay.
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He is no longer a conservative evangelical, but still a passionate Christian, serving as a lay deacon in the Metropolitan Church of Christ in Manchester, and is open about his sexuality. He is celibate at the moment. Given the attitude of the Christian church in general towards homosexuality, there are not that many openly-gay Christian men to choose from. It was he who asked the question about persecution of homosexuals to which the African primates failed to give an adequate response, although Sydney's Peter Jensen did step in and issue the required condemnation. Riazat Butt has written about this and Thinking Anglicans has posted the press conference transcript, meaning I won't post it here.
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Iain, walking with me down the Via Dolorosa after the Mount of Olivers trip, explained what happened when he was converted at 14. 'I clearly remember thinking that God had called me for one of two possibilities. One was that I was to tell the Church that homosexuality was ok. The other was that I was to tell the world that it was wrong. For the first ten years, I said the latter. I became a Methodist local preacher and preached that all sex outside marriage was wrong.'
He explained what changed his mind. 'It was seeing God at work in a very powerful way in many lesbian and gay Christians, seeing them display the fruits of the spirit, the fruits of love and joy and forgiveness. It was being able to go along to the Metropolitan Church and being able to worship God in a very real and powerful way, being changed by God's power.'
Regarding Gafcon, he is there as an act of service. 'I am sure that many of them are deeply committed and are God's people. I am praying that their eyes will be opened.'
Read it all here.