Too often, however, I think that conservatives are callous and fail to find any plank in their own eye as they carry out their service to God. I think this callousness is especially apparent in some of the actions taken by the organizers of GAFCON, as well as by some of those reporting on the event on Anglican blogs.
Bp. Suhail Dawani of Jerusalem has for some time been pleading with Akinola and others to not hold GAFCON in his diocese. He even received word that the conference was to be held in Jerusalem through a press release rather than through any request for permission on the part of Akinola or others. Rather than respect Dawani’s objection to the location of the conference, the organizers of GAFCON have in large part moved forward with their own intentions, claiming prophetic inspiration for the location, which seems in this case to trump brotherly kindness. Now… as if this weren’t bad enough… we have David Virtue reporting on Bp. Dawani’s recent sermon in shocking terms. “In a strained, invitation-only service that saw much diplomatic feinting and ecclesiastical double-talk”, and “In stern language, that reflected censure rather than welcome,” … have we forgotten that this is Dawani’s own diocese? That GAFCON is meeting there against his wishes? Have we become so partisan that we have abandoned the bonds of charity or any ability to recognize where we might have done something wrong ourselves?
Comments from David Virtue’s readers are even worse:
“I don't think that there's the least bit of doubt as to whom Dawani answers to....and it ISN'T CHRIST, evidently.”
“Dawani is Kate's [Katharine Jefferts Schori’s] sock puppet undergoing a perpetual prostate exam.”
“About the only significance of Dawani's speech is to clearly highlight the continuing intransigence of the revisionists led by Hades' little helper Katie-in-the-clown-suit.”
While I generally support the more conservative calls for renewal in the Anglican Communion, I have severe misgivings about the way that conservative leaders have carried out this renewal. I do hope that GAFCON is an edifying contribution to current problems in world Anglicanism, but I worry that those who have organized it are quickly losing sight of the bonds of affection and embracing the inertia of a movement rather than the lovingkindness of the Gospel. There is no reason to demonize Bp. Dawani as the pundits have done… it only works to justify claims from other Anglicans and the media that GAFCON is all about division rather than unity.
[image credits: ELO photo/Matthew Davies, © 2008 Episcopal Life Online]