Partnering and Planting – A Very Anglican Activity of Gafcon Ireland!
“I urge you to be encouraged and strengthened in the Lord that together we will bring people to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and finally attain everlasting life.”
Archbishop Ben Kwashi
What a wonderful visit and encouragement to receive from incoming Secretary General of the global Gafcon movement! Gafcon Ireland was privileged to receive him at the annual two-day residential attended by over 50 church leaders in his first visit to a Gafcon branch since his election. His encouragement fit with the message of our other guests:
“Of Gafcon Ireland’s four ‘P’s’, Partnering and Planting will be the most difficult to do”
Canon Alan Hawkins, Leader of Gafcon’s Church Planting Network
The four P’s of Gafcon Ireland are to PROCLAIM, PARTNER, PLANT and PREPARE, and Alan Hawkins is quite right to notice the significance of placing PARTNER and PLANT in the middle. They are central to the future of Anglican ministry in Ireland!
Gafcon Ireland is already PROCLAIMING the message of the gospel through parish ministry. We are already PREPARING people for gospel ministry through theologyIreland (www.theologyireland.com), but PLANTING new congregations and PARTNERING with like-minded organisations to do so are not so easy. Yet Gafcon Ireland has committed to plant 50 churches in the next 50 years!
But our guests shocked us by sharing their opinion: “this is too small a vision!”
Our guests come with experience from new Anglican movements in the USA and England. Our American brothers were thrown out of The Episcopal Church because they would not turn from scripture. The Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) did not turn inwards in self-protection after this painful experience. Quite the reverse! ACNA looked to the desperate need to multiply faithful Anglican churches that would evangelise. They began to plant new churches—and 488 authentic Anglican churches were planted and remain after just 5 years.(1)
Our guests from England, Rev. Lee McMunn of the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) and Bishop Andy Lines, gave the same encouragement through teaching from John’s third letter, interviews, and in gospel-driven personal conversations during breaks and over meals.
But does this fit with being authentically Anglican?
Dr. Ashley Null – the great scholar of Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation– provided a masterclass in foundational Anglican theology. The Anglican Book of Homilies, the Book of Common Prayer – the ‘Title Deeds’ of Anglicanism – demonstrate that Anglicanism is movement founded on Scripture, concerned with sin, justification by faith, and the love of God!
This love that begins with God calls in our Anglican communion service:
Presbyter: “Lift up your hearts”
Congregation: “We lift them up to the Lord”
“For Cranmer, the whole point of the reformation was restoring God’s glory, and restoring Christian lives motivated by a new ruling love for God that comes through the proclamation of the gospel”
Dr Ashley Null
The Book of Common Prayer drives the gathered people of God to recognise that their hearts – the centre of their being – must be transformed by the work of the Holy Spirit by the word of God in Scripture about Jesus’ death, to love of the God who saves!
On the island of Ireland there are so many who do not know of this love for which they were made. They do not know of the love that is initiated by God alone and turns our hearts to right love of our creator who bought us back by the blood of Jesus the Son. They do not know the God of all comfort. They have not heard and believed “the comfortable words”.
“Hear these words of assurance for those who truly turn to Christ.
Jesus said: ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest’. Matthew 11:28
‘God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.’ John 3:16
The apostle Paul said: ‘Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’. 1 Timothy 1:15
The apostle John said: ‘If anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins.’ 1 John 2:1–2” (2)
To take the message of Christ with cultural sensitivity is the work of authentic Anglicans! (3) So Gafcon Ireland will devote itself to PARTNER and to PLANT. Whether it is Belfast or Dublin, Galway or Cork, there are not sufficient Anglican congregations devoted to Cranmer’s project for the English-speakers of the world (and of all tongues) to reach all those who do not lift up their hearts to the Lord.
“[Cranmer wrote] a liturgy that promoted the alluring power of the gospel in a culturally relevant manner”
Dr Ashley Null
The good news is that we are not alone, and that we have already started.
We have the Gafcon church planting network who PARTNER with us in this work – lending expertise, financial networks, advice and prayer. We have local partners who have experience in church planting and share Anglican convictions as well as historic connections within the Church of Ireland and a remit for mission on this island which contains the least evangelized people group of English-speaking world.
Will you join us as we plan to PARTNER and PLANT?
• Pray for urgency – for the time is short.
• Pray for patience – for it is the Lord’s work.
• Pray for and give financial support – for that is what gospel fellowship means.
• Pray for church planters who are PREPARED and able for the work.
• Pray for (or provide) accommodation for church planters.
• Pray for churches whose affections and hearts, are lifted up to the Lord in love for God by his word PROCLAIMED.
(1) A similar number were attempted and have not kept going... but those who tried continue to receive support and many plan to try again.
(2) Excerpt From: Archbishop of Sydney's Liturgical Panel. “Common Prayer”. Apple Books. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/common-prayer/id635153045?mt=11
(3) see Article XXXIV of the thirty-nine articles