primates meeting prayer criticism
Meditation and Reflection

Las Vegas shooting: Anglican Primates complain about having to pray together

As news of the appalling Las Vegas shooting reached the cloisters of Canterbury Cathedral, where gathered the eminent Primates of the Worldwide Anglican Communion (well, most of them) to continue their interminable and all-consuming deliberations about matters gay and matrimonial, it was thought appropriate to invite the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church to commence Evensong with a prayer for the victims of the atrocity. Bishop Michael Curry is, after all, a US citizen: this was his country, sheep of his flock, his shared grief. This is what he prayed:

He wept with those who weep. His heart bled for the 50+ murdered and the 500+ wounded, some now fighting for their lives, facing life-changing injuries. He prayed to the Lord for mercy, comfort and healing; that the Lord might bind up open wounds and draw near to the suffering and hurting, “hearts so sorrowful that words cannot convey”. He yearned that humanity might find a better way to love; that we might all be made instruments of peace.

This prayer greatly displeased the Canon for Communications and Media Relations of the American Church in North America, who seems also to speak for the Global Anglican Future Conference. The Anglican News Service explains:

This afternoon (Tuesday), the Revd Canon Andrew Gross, Canon for Communications and Media Relations for the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), speaking on behalf of Gafcon, said that the decision to invite Michael Curry to lead the congregation in prayer at the Evensong service “put the Gafcon primates in a difficult spot.” Speaking at a press conference in a hotel near Canterbury Cathedral, he said that they were “forced to look like they are walking together when they are not walking together.”

It is curious, is it not, that Anglican bishops may pray publicly with popes, and popes may pray publicly with Muslim leaders, but, according to Canon Gross, ACNA/GACFON bishops cannot pray publicly with their fellow Anglican bishops, even a time of great grief, national heartbreak and mourning, for fear of giving the erroneous impression that they are “walking together”.

What a marvellous model of mission he must have. What a vision of visible unity he must possess. What an inspirational witness to the world his purity must be. ‘Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.

And pray not with the unclean thing, either, for then He will not receive you, sullied as you shall be by association with matters gay and matrimonial.

Prayer is not a public symbol of theological unity: it is an expression of corporate humility and common humanity before the Creator God. We pray not because we believe the same or act the same, but because we determine together, with all our sin, imperfection and blindness, to approach the Throne of Grace humbly to seek His wisdom, guidance, enlightenment and inspiration for the good of mankind, for the salvation of the world.

Unless, according to Canon Gross, you’re a GAFCON bishop, in which case it appears they may not pray with you unless you believe exactly as they do.

UPDATE 6th October 2017:

This article slanders the GAFCON Primates and misrepresents the Rev’d Canon Andrew Gross, who, it appears, was set up and purposely smeared. It was thought that the Anglican Communion News Service was a reliable and trustworthy source, but apparently not. A full apology to Canon Gross (and some further background) has been posted: Anglican Communion News Service smears GAFCON and manipulates Archbishop of Canterbury. This article will remain here as testimony to the extent of the ACNS media manipulation and distortion.