One of the indirect benefits of The Gospel Coalition has been to link strategic-minded leaders of a great variety of church backgrounds. Many have been surprised to hear of a body of Anglican believers working with the likes of Don Carson, Tim Keller, and Albert Mohler.
In fact, during The Gospel Coalition 2015 National Conference, April 13 to 15 in Orlando, a number of Anglican leaders are offering seminars and workshops, and there will be an informal gathering one evening for Anglicans to come together for fellowship and encouragement.
Let me explain a little of how we reached this point. Many evangelicals might not know that in 2009 the Anglican Church in North America was established, and there are already a thousand or more congregations with a vigorous church planting flavor. While many are former Episcopalians, believers from various other traditions have been drawn down the Canterbury Trail. Many have rediscovered the beauty of Anglican worship and been surprised by the strong Reformation doctrines that permeate the Book of Common Prayer and its Thirty-Nine Articles. The Anglican Reformers of the 16th century were closely linked with the continental Reformers, and Thomas Cranmer—martyr and author of the first Anglican prayer book—was not only greatly influenced by Calvin and Bucer, but also married the niece of Luther’s disciple Osiander.
While the Episcopal Church in the United States has gradually self-destructed over the last 40 years, a decidedly Reformed and evangelical movement has matured and found expression in parts of ACNA, Trinity School for Ministry in Pittsburgh, and a growing number of congregations around North America. The ACNA, which is organized around geographical as well as non-geographical dioceses, also includes sub-groups and partner groups such as the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), the North American missionary district of the Anglican Church of Rwanda known as PEARUSA, Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA), and the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.
Outside the United States there are many more reasons for encouragement. During the latter half of the 20th century, John Stott and James Packer became the most highly profiled leaders of a worldwide resurgence known informally as the “Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion.” A particularly robust Anglican church has developed out of the Diocese of Sydney, Australia, and there has been a concerted effort to unify Anglican leaders in the Global South. As the Church of England has weakened, the Global Anglican Future conferences (GAFCON) have drawn together large groups of doctrinally orthodox and evangelically minded leaders in Jerusalem, Nairobi, and elsewhere, establishing many Global South pastors, bishops, and theologians as the recognized moral and spiritual leaders of the movement. Part of the unusual attraction of this movement is that it joins wise Majority World and Western leaders together in a church that is both ancient and modern in its worship and ministry vision.
Worldwide Anglicanism is a large and broad body encompassing adherents of many theological persuasions. Some are not as Reformed in their thinking as others, and traditions are not always the same. But the authority of Scripture and the reverent, Reformed language of the prayer book are powerfully unifying factors that draw us in oneness as we kneel at the Lord’s holy table.
Editors’ note: The informal Anglican gathering will be held in conjunction with TGC’s National Conference at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, April 14, in Suwannee rooms 20-21 at Rosen Shingle Creek, the conference site. No pre-registration is required. For more information, contact John Yates at firstname.lastname@example.org.