The New Branch of Gafcon Ireland
“These are the nations the LORD left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience) (Judges 3:1-2).”
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).”
“I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people (Jude 3).”
It is the imperative that each new generation should learn to contend with the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms which drives the vision of GAFCON Ireland. The branch, which was launched in April this year, is the newest in GAFCON. (The launch can be relived here: http://www.gafconireland.com/launch).
The theme of GAFCON III meeting in Jerusalem this week is, “Proclaiming Christ Faithfully to the Nations” and the question faced by GAFCON Ireland faced was much the same, “What does faithfulness look like for Anglicans in Ireland?”.
The island of Ireland looks back upon a very long Christian history but now GAFCON Ireland needed to look forward to the long-term future.
It was evident that faithfulness to the gospel in Ireland had been diluted by almost a century of deteriorating theological education and so it was decided that it was in that sphere that the first steps into the future should be made.
In 2017, with the support of theological educators from around the GAFCON world, work began on establishing “Theology Ireland” http://www.theologyireland.com/. The programme aims to make high-quality theological education available to all - lay and ordained alike. The expectation is that many will become properly Biblically trained pastor-teachers, not least to lead a new era of church-plants.
Looking ahead to not just one but two generations of this work one of the organising committee, the Revd Trevor Johnston said, “…preparing the younger generation is really crucial for us if we are to fulfil the tasks of gospel partnership, proclamation and planting”.
Theology Ireland has benefited from assistance from Australia, Canada and the USA. Educators of the eminence of Dr Peter Orr and Dr James White have contributed to teaching a programme that amongst other things has covered areas of Biblical Theology and Engaging with Islam. We have beneffittef from the advice and support of the likes of; Revd Canon Dr Ashley Null, Dr Mark Thomson, Canon David Short and Col Marshall.
Revd Tim Anderson, chairman of GAFCON Ireland said, “We in Ireland have been so grateful for the global connections. It is great to know, learn from and support others who are faithful in Bible teaching and Evangelism”.
At the April launch the Most Reverend Greg Venables Archbishop of South America stated. “It is no more possible to be 99% faithful to God than it is to be 99% faithful to your wife”. It is in humble awareness of the truth of what he said that the GAFCON Ireland branch takes its place in seeking to “Proclaim Christ faithfully to the nations”.
A fuller report of the launch of GAFCON Ireland can be found here: https://www.e-n.org.uk/2018/06/uk-news/building-in-belfast/.