THE JERUSALEM DECLARATION OF 2008
By Ronald Caldwell, PhD, Professor of History Emeritus
On March 14, the second annual convention of the independent Diocese of South Carolina begins its two-day meeting. Several "workshops" are being offered. One is entitled "The Jerusalem Declaration: Owning our Anglican Faith & Call." It is being presented by the Rev. Dr. Canon Kendall Harmon, Canon Theologian of the Diocese of South Carolina. Harmon has been a clergyman in the Diocese for more than twenty years often holding positions of power and leadership. He has been editor and assistant editor of Jubilate Deo, the diocesan newspaper for years. He has also been very close to Bishop Lawrence. The bishop's diaries show that he communicates with Lawrence very often, perhaps more than anyone. For several years he has been head and "coordinator" of the "Anglican Communion Development" commission of the diocese. The advertisement of his workshop states "The workshop will offer historical perspective of the GAFCON document, The Jerusalem Declaration 2008 - Why is it important for the Diocese of South Carolina to commit itself to this active expression of our continuing membership in global Anglicanism."
The Jerusalem Declaration to which Harmon refers was drawn up by the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) that met in Jerusalem in June of 2008 on the eve of the Lambeth Conference. It is commonly called GAFCON I. This was a meeting called by traditionalist (aka conservative; orthodox; counter-revolutionary; reasserter) Anglican bishops to differentiate themselves from the official structure of the Anglican Communion that was about to hold its once-a-decade meeting in England. They united in opposing the "false gospel" of equality for homosexual persons that had spread in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada.
GAFCON I drew 1,148 attendees including 291 bishops. The representation was overwhelmingly from the Third World, particularly equatorial Africa, countries that are well-known for harsh policies against homosexuals. One attendee was Bishop Lawrence of South Carolina who had been consecrated six months earlier.
On June 29 GAFCON I issued the Jerusalem Declaration. It became a cornerstone of traditionalist Anglicanism to be noted by leaders such as Lawrence ever after. It was a list of fourteen points, most dealing with long-standing statements of Anglican identity such as the Thirty Nine Articles. One, however, plainly struck against rights for homosexuals: "...marriage between one man and one woman..." Another point directly repudiated the Episcopal Church: "We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word and deed."
Actually the Declaration was only one part of a longer "Statement on the Global Anglican Future" issued by the conference. It predictably condemned the "false gospel" that "promotes a variety of sexual preferences and immoral behavior as a universal human right." It continued that GAFCON was "out of communion" with the churches of the "false gospel" [TEC]. It also called on like-minded Anglicans to abandon the errant churches and realign with Global South Anglicans.
From Lawrence's bishop's diary we know that he was an active participant in GAFCON I attending sessions working on the statements and meeting with like-minded bishops. Shortly after the meeting Lawrence gave an interview to Steve Waring of The Living Church magazine enthusiastically declaring that GAFCON was the heir-apparent to assume leadership in the worldwide Anglican Communion: "I witnessed a new birth last month...The Global South has come to its place of maturity." In fact, GAFCON rejected the legitimacy of the Episcopal Church, broke communion with it, and called on its members to abandon it. Let us not forget that only a few months earlier, Lawrence had made a solemn vow before God and everyone of loyalty to the Episcopal Church.
GAFCON I created the "Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans" to continue on its policies. This group gave full recognition to the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and its archbishop, Robert Duncan, as a prelate. ACNA's stated goal is to replace the Episcopal Church.
Five years later, GAFCON II met in Nairobi, Kenya, (October 2013) to continue the work. It issued the "Nairobi Communique" that reiterated the Jerusalem Declaration's condemnation of homosexuality. Lawrence also attended.
GAFCON I, GAFCON II and overlapping movements such as Global South are self-made associations that have no legal or legitimate standing in the Anglican Communion that is headed by the Archbishop of Canterbury (ABC). The closest thing to a governing body of the AC is the officially established Anglican Consultative Council. In order for GAFCON or any of its allied groups to be legitimate in the AC, they would have to be approved by the ACC and recognized by the ABC. The chance that the ACC or the ABC would recognize a rival shadow government in the AC is non-existent. GAFCON, Global South and the like have no legitimacy in the AC.
Let's return to the blurb announcing the workshop on the Jerusalem Declaration: "our continuing membership in global Anglicanism." Continuing is problematical since DSC "disassociated" with TEC, the only legitimate branch of the AC in the U.S. The disassociation automatically discontinued membership in the AC. Membership: by separating from TEC, DSC removed its membership in the AC. Global is misleading as well. GAFCON and allied groups represent only certain places in the AC, notably the most socially conservative as equatorial Africa and south Asia. The AC, on the other hand, is truly global. Anglicanism is another problem. The AC is a world-wide loose association of independent churches linked by a common heritage coming from the Church of England. DSC is entirely outside the AC.
Lawrence has repeatedly asserted that DSC is an "extra-provincial diocese" of the AC. This simply is not true. It is indeed a diocese but it is disconnected from any official function of the Anglican Communion. The new proposed resolution to link to several primates of the Global South will not fix the problem. Global South has no legitimacy in the AC. It has no right to set up any sort of legitimate or legal primatial council for anyone in the AC.
The Jerusalem Declaration of 2008, so much touted now by certain leaders, had no legitimacy either in the AC and still has none. It was a statement of socially reactionary church leaders committed to opposing equality for homosexual persons. It was meant to split the AC along lines of social policy. In that regard it is working; and DSC is playing its part. We have heard over and over "It's about God not gays." If one really looks at the historical record one sees that the issue of homosexuality has been the driving force in all of this, including the Jerusalem Declaration of 2008.