Dear friends,

I was in Jerusalem June 14-23rd to be a part of the Global Anglican Futures Gathering (GAFCON). Here are some of my reflections:

Last week I shared about how the Gospel has implications; how the implications are not the Gospel; and how the Gospel has both common [core] and contextual implications. I talked of how GAFCON was a model of a cross-cultural study of the bible in the context of worship and community, to help clarify what the Gospel is and what is a common and what is a contextual implication. Last week I focused on one common implication, today let’s think about contextual implications of the Gospel.

Church of the Messiah is in Ottawa. We live in one of the most stable and prosperous cities in Canada. At the same time, Canada is one of the most stable and prosperous countries in the world. Canada is a welfare-state, with, from a world perspective, extensive and generous care for the poor. As Christians, we are to have a heart for the poor, and we are to work that out in our “advanced capitalist welfare-state”. Most of the world is not like Ottawa, Canada. In most of the world, the country is not prosperous and not stable. There is often wide-spread and deep poverty and no government care for the poor and the vulnerable. For churches in countries like this, the gospel has certain important contextual implications. At GAFCON, nine strategic networks were launched. These networks are to continue working after GAFCON ended. What is considered to be a strategic network, reflects churches in many different cultural and economic context coming together around a common Gospel, listening to each other, and then beginning to work together in networks which reflect both common and contextual implications. We in Canada would not set up a “sustainable” development network – at least not in the same meant by GAFCON.

For GAFCON, sustainable development involves several things. One is to help those of us in the West who are giving money to be generous in a way that does not leave the churches in the two-thirds world dependent upon continual aid. A network of “rich” and “poor” churches was developed by GAFCON to help the “rich” be generous and strategic when there is a humanitarian crisis. That same network of “rich” and “poor” churches needs to help the “rich” be generous in a way that invests in poorer local churches, so the poorer church can feed and water and generate income themselves. That same network of “rich” and “poor” churches can also help the poor church identify, develop, and grow local initiatives to feed, water, and generate income locally, through the church and its members.

The nine strategic networks of GAFCON reflects both common concerns like prayer and good training of clergy and Bishops, and more unique concerns like sustainable development and women’s networks [Mothers Union is a powerful movement, chiefly in Africa]. But even the common concerns, like good Theological Education, will in practice help all involved in working well with common and contextual matters.

At Messiah, we are not just a local church, we are connected to churches around the world in Gospel proclamation and living out the implications of the Gospel.