A long simmering dispute between the worldwide Anglican Communion and conservative Anglican leaders boiled over in 2003 when the American Episcopal Church ordained openly gay, non-celibate Right Reverend V. Gene Robinson as the ninth bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire.
Still, several of GAFCON's speakers were quick to point out that debates about homosexuality within the church are only symptoms of a greater malaise, which they identify with the rejection of Orthodox Christian beliefs regarding Holy Scripture and the divinity and redemptive work of Jesus.
Although a largely British leadership committee organized GAFCON, and although African bishops were the primary focus of media attention, a number of American bishops were also in attendance.
Many of these church leaders, along with hundreds of American churches, have left the American Episcopal Church and have instead placed themselves under the authority of conservative, biblically oriented African archbishops. One such leader is Bishop David Anderson.
In 2006, Anderson left the American Episcopal Church and had his holy orders transferred to Nigeria. In 2007 the house of bishops of Nigeria elected him, along with three others, to be suffragan bishops for the Convocation of Anglicans of North America, a missionary outreach of the Anglican Province of Nigeria to the United States.
Anderson still holds this position today. He is also president and CEO of the American Anglican Council, a non-profit advocacy group created in 1996 in response to what he describes as "the continued drift of the Episcopal church into biblical revisionism."
In Jerusalem asked Anderson about the dramatic changes taking place in the worldwide Anglican Communion and his views about some of the controversies surrounding GAFCON's gathering in Jerusalem.
How many North American churches have left the Episcopal Church?
That is a difficult number to arrive at because the Episcopal Church (TEC) only counts churches that have lost their property or have lost court cases and have no recourse. If a case is pending in court, the Episcopal Church will not acknowledge that the congregation is gone. If the congregation walks away from its property but four or five people remain behind, TEC will maintain that they still have a congregation there, even though it may be four walls and a janitor. So they won't admit to the hundreds of churches that have departed.
When you add it up, between 200 and 300 churches have left, including some of the largest congregations in the Episcopal Church. Some individual churches, like Falls Church, Virginia, have a membership exceeding that of many entire Episcopal dioceses.
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