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GAFCON confirms it will boycott Lambeth conference of bishops

by Cara Bentley

Anglicans on both sides of the debate about sexuality within the church are unhappy with plans for the Lambeth Conference in 2020, with some, including the Bishop of Liverpool, Rt Rev Paul Bayes, saying their partners will not come, in protest at same-sex bishops not being allowed to bring their partners. 

Current Church of England doctrine states that clergy cannot conduct a same-sex wedding and the rules on whether clergy can marry a same-sex partner varies in different countries, with the Episcopal Church in the US allowing same-sex marriage since 2015, but in England only civil partnerships are allowed, on the assumption that they remain celibate, and marriage is not. 

Aside from the issue of gay partners attending, there are complaints that clergy in same-sex partnerships are being allowed to attend themselves. 

GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference), a group of Anglicans who say they 'work to guard and proclaim the unchanging, transforming Gospel through biblically faithful preaching and teaching', are the main voice of this concern. 

In June 2018, their members gathered in Jerusalem and called on the Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Rev Justin Welby, "not to invite bishops of those Provinces which have endorsed by word or deed sexual practices which are in contradiction to the teaching of Scripture and Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, unless they have repented of their actions and reversed their decisions."

There are bishops in the Anglican communion who are in same-sex relationships, such as Bishop Mary Glasspool in New York, Bishop Kevin Robertson in Toronto and Bishop Thomas Brown in Maine. 

Speaking at a GAFCON gathering in Australia, Archbishop Foley Beach, chair of the GAFCON Primates Council, said of the Church of England: "They've changed the discussion to inviting the partners of the gay bishops when the issue is the bishops themselves. So, the Lambeth conference is in itself in violation of Lambeth 98 1.10 (doctrine on sexuality that says the Church does not legitimise same-sex relationships) itself by having these bishops in homosexual marriages coming to the conference. So, what are we to do with that?

"The primates have written a letter to Archbishop Justin and we'll see how he responds". 

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