by Bishop Henry Scriven, recently appointed Interim General Secretary of EFAC

John Stott is one of my heroes and I had the privilege of meeting him several times. Among the vast number of significant things that he achieved in his life was the founding of the Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion in 1961.

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Lambeth Palace | photo: Philip Miles

EFAC has the clear aim and purpose to encourage and develop biblically faithful fellowship, teaching and mission throughout the Anglican world. Such an all-encompassing purpose must necessarily be honed down to goals that are realistic.

My first real encounter with EFAC was as a very new and young bishop at the 1998 Lambeth Conference. EFAC arranged a conference before the main gathering which very helpfully brought together evangelical bishops from around the Communion. This then extended throughout the conference in the form of supporting those of us who wanted to maintain an orthodox, evangelical position on the issues of the day.

Of course sexuality was the one matter that hit the headlines (then and now!) and from my perspective it was EFAC and other allies who made the passing of the famous Lambeth 1:10 resolution possible. As there were no formal resolutions at the 2008 Lambeth Conference this resolution is still the official view of Anglican bishops and thus the Worldwide Communion to this day.

Will this change as we approach Lambeth 2020 in July next year? Well of course it has changed considerably already as several provinces have taken actions which ignored the resolution and the pleas from so many not to do it. They have ordained and consecrated practising homosexual clergy and allowed the blessing of same-sex partnerships/marriages. Thus for millions around the world they have irretrievably broken the bonds of communion.

This raises the massive issue of what it means to be in communion with other Christians and what is enough to break fellowship with them form a biblical point of view. The lines are inevitably drawn in different places for different people.

In the light of the ongoing crisis in the Anglican Communion (as indeed in many denominations) the role of EFAC continues to be necessary. As we approach Lambeth 2020 many evangelical bishops have said they will not be attending. But many will; and EFAC will be there to pray with them and support them.

EFAC is going through some changes which will hopefully equip us better to serve the church and the different EFAC fellowships throughout the world. We have an international executive committee with members from five different countries and a Trustee board for the UK charity. A significant part of what we do is to support evangelical theologians in our Theological Resource Network, led by Dr Peter Walker. This is going to be increasingly important as the Communion grapples with the challenges that impact evangelical doctrine. And with the help of Julia Cameron we are hoping to publish significant books to resource and challenge God’s people.

We are keen to work together with other organisations in the Anglican world and serve the church rather than promote our own organisation. People might well ask what our relationship is to GAFCON and whether we are necessary, given the growth and influence of the GAFCON movement since the first meeting in Jerusalem in 2008. GAFCON is providing structures for orthodox Anglican Christians, operating more from the top down. EFAC seeks to bring individuals together in fellowship and prayer while also providing relevant theological resources and publications. That’s the very simple answer, but we will continue to work closely with as many people and groups as possible to equip the church and stand for biblical truth.