Matt Kennedy is in Jerusalem for GAFCON and attended the press conference today (by the way, I’m thrilled to see Cynthia Brust back at her post!). In addition to all the news, we learned more about what happened to Archbishop Akinola at the Jordanian border when he was denied entry, even though he was traveling on a diplomatic passport (imagine such a thing happening to the Archbishop of Canterbury). Here are some excerpts. Read the whole thing here.
UPDATE: You can listen to the entire press conference here. Must say, this is looking far more “open” than that gathering in Canterbury.
Archbishop Akinola: They ask us to put our bags in the screening machine. They start asking me questions about my family and my education. After three hours I was wondering what is going on. So we get phone calls. They refuse to let me enter, they give me my passport and we left. And it was a good thing. We got here early and we were able to get some very important preparation done. I was carrying a diplomatic passport and this happened to me? But it turned out to be a blessing.
We also learn that attempts have been made by some individuals in the United States and in England to entice African bishops to break with their primate and province and come to Lambeth despite the boycott:
Archbishop Akinola: The fact is this. There are bishops in Africa who have been lured with various attractive offers by certain people from America and England to come to Lambeth. “Oh, bishop, if you come to England, we will provide you with money and fine accommodations; we will provide yo with help with your projects in your diocese. What they do not realize is this: Such attempts to divide our people will not affect our churches. The polity, the constitution, and the canons of our church are clear. Bishops cannot go outside of our common decisions.
Matt identified that among the credentialed media there were representatives from gay/lesbian activist groups. They asked questions about the inhumane treatment of gays in lesbians in Islamic-dominated countries like Nigeria or Uganda or Rwanda (one wonders how they would handle questions of why Americans kill babies at their most defenseless, but nevermind). They all responded, including Archbishop Orombi to the activist/reporter:
Archbishop Orombi: The Christian faith you taught us told us what the Christian faith is. We cannot go where you want us to go without violating this faith we have received. We believe there is a possibility that God can bring you back when you sin, that you can be transformed. This makes us stand on the word of God. Way back when you go back 1886 young men were murdered because they refused to give themselves to a king sexually. Our communities culturally and where they stand is rock solid on the faith of Christianity. We believe it. We practice it. Now you call us to leave it.
There’s plenty more, including the questions from the gay/lesbian advocates, as well as the New York Times and the London Times and the National Review. Read the rest of the live-blogging transcript here.
Bishop Dawani told the leadership of GAFCON:“All Christians must come here first and foremost as pilgrims – and I note that you say your coming here to Jerusalem is a ‘pilgrimage.’ Pilgrims here do not bring decisions with them. They come here to seek prayerfully the decisions God wants them to make,” said Bishop Dawani. “I pray that as you meet in this holy place, you will all be open, in real humility, to the Spirit’s guidance and that you will continue here in a spirit of peace, reconciliation and goodwill,” he continued.
Archbishop Peter Akinola responded to the welcome of Bishop Dalwani. “GAFCON is in no way a threat to you,” he said. “We want to be your allies. We want to be a blessing to you… to join with you in carrying out God’s working in this part of the world.”
Read the rest of the article here.
SUN. PM UPDATE: Check out an interesting and thoughtful interview with the Archbishop of Sydney who articulates the GAFCON position quite well and the Presiding Bishop of the Middle East (who does a bang-up job straightening out the BBC reporter) here. We agree with both!