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A lofty pair of bombproof towers that rise out of the parched ground of a concrete suburb, the Renaissance Ramada Hotel and Convention Centre hardly bespeaks the romance and piety Christian pilgrims come to Jerusalem to find. Nonetheless, it was here that conservative Anglicans gathered in the final week of June for a major ecclesiastical reform.

The Global Anglican Future Conference - Gafcon - was in many ways the culmination of a decade that has polarised the mostly latitudinarian, liberal Anglicans of the West and biblically orthodox, evangelical "believers" of the Global South. The latter are boycotting the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference, which convened on July 16. It is, as expected, the most sparsely attended since the event's inception in 1867.

The conservatives' decision to hold Gafcon in Jerusalem was a telling indication of where they locate their authority. By day, some 1,200 pilgrims - including nearly 300 bishops, mostly from African dioceses - boarded a fleet of pleasantly air-conditioned tour buses to explore the roots of their faith. They disembarked to pray at Gethsemane, to sing at Bethesda (the site on Mount Zion where Peter baptised early followers of Christ) and to hear sermons at Galilee. The message was that churches must return to the plain meaning of scripture, even at the risk of institutions.

Journalists from the major British dailies went along to a number of these events, which, faithfully reported, would have yielded headlines like "Anglicans Affirm Christ as One True God - Has Implications for Church Structure". Alas, they were not so reported, and in reading the reports, one is left with the impression that the conservatives sat around all week talking about nothing besides homosexuality and the ordination of women. These things, the conventional wisdom insists, is what this schism is all about.

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Anonymous
January 11th, 2013
4:01 PM
"(infidelity is the root cause of the African AIDS holocaust)" What a frightening view of the world. Ever heard of medical science? Viruses? It's attitudes like the one above which has hindered effective prevention work in Africa - where sadly it's most needed.

Wannabe Amazonian
October 4th, 2009
4:10 AM
African Christians, the White Man has no business telling you what your theological principles or moral values should be. People of Africa, think for yourselves. The Biblical message is addressed to all of humanity, and should not be filtered by North Atlantic intellectuals of wavering faith. I look forward to a new church, spearheaded by African bishops, and welcoming seceding congregations from the First World. In Christ, there is neither black nor white. All or welcome, including cradle Jews and and Muslims. The message of the prophets, (especially Isaiah), the Psalms, of Job and Ecclesiastes, of the New Testament are the common property of all humankind. O Christians of Africa, remain steadfast, lead your own people to marital fidelity (infidelity is the root cause of the African AIDS holocaust) and become a light unto all the nations.

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