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Day 1, Thursday, July 17, 2008
I thought I might write a short daily report from Lambeth. We (Church of Melanesia bishops and spouses) arrived yesterday after almost three weeks in London, Chester and Exeter dioceses, and Cambridge. Our visits went well, and included a visit to York (a morning of the Church of England General Synod and lunch with +Rowan), Durham and Lindisfarne. We were well received and looked after everywhere, and overfed. I preached in London, Ottery St. Mary, and Cambridge. Our Melanesian Mission Festival Eucharist at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London, was grand, with the Gospel brought forward by Melanesian dancers, present for the Lambeth Conference Chaplaincy Team. We arrived at the conference venue, the University of Kent, yesterday afternoon.
Yesterday afternoon was an orientation session in the plenary hall (a "big top" tent, a bit cramped but placing everyone near the altar), including introductions and a few comments from the Archbishop. I understand that about 700 bishops are here (more continue to arrive), most with spouses. The biggest absence is the bishops from Nigeria and Uganda, although I understand that some Nigerians have broken ranks. Otherwise, every province is present or represented. I believe that all the Asia/Pacific bishops are present, except Sydney.
Bishop Winston Halapua of Polynesia/Aotearoa, Lambeth Chaplain, led this morning's opening Eucharist, with the assistance of Anglican Communion office staff and the Chaplaincy team. We then headed off to Canterbury Cathedral for the first day of the retreat, led by Rowan. The Cathedral is closed to tourists today and tomorrow, and we were given the entire use of the Cathedral and all its chapels, and the precincts. Rowan's addresses, on the work of a bishop, were thoughtful and helpful. Not surprisingly, the texts were from St. Paul. It was a restful and thoughtful time.
I am seeing many old friends from all over the world. I am still hunting for various people. The spirit of this conference compared to the 1998 one is clearly more prayerful and has more depth. The spirit of the conference is quite good.
Perhaps these comments are too general; they have been interrupted by an informal meeting of Church of Melanesia bishops. I must sleep, so I finish. Please continue to keep us in your prayers. I shall try to write again tomorrow.
With love, Terry
* * * * *
Day 2, Friday, July 18, 2008
We have completed the second day of the Lambeth Conference retreat in Canterbury Cathedral, led by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The morning address concentrated on the cost of the bishop's discipleship -- that he or she is both faithful friend (fully with the people) and faithful stranger (a word from beyond); that the bishop belongs to everyone, yet also to no one (much development of this apparently contradictory dynamic) ; and Rowan reflected around two phrases, William Stringfellow's espousal of "being a biblical person" (rather than a "religious person") and St. Ignatius of Antioch's comment, on his way to martyrdom, "Bishops are pleasing to God when they are silent".
The afternoon address concentrated on episcopal ministry as exercised in community (Tertullian, "a single Christian is no Christian" rephrased, "a single bishop is no bishop") rather than as an exercise of the power of one individual. The "community" of the bishop extends from his or her small local community to the Lambeth Conference, now divided and wounded. Rowan reflected on the resources of the Desert Fathers (who combined an "absolute rigour towards themselves" with a "deep reluctance to condemn") and Benedictine spirituality ("listen to the smallest member of the community, the smallest church", not fame and numbers) in restoring communion. He asked that we think of whom in the gathering we most feared, whom we were most nervous of, and go to them and ask them to pray with us.
The afternoon address was particularly powerful and the queue for the confessional increased, always a good sign. At lunch, I had already had a friendly conversation with the Bishop of Springfield (Illinois), a former curate of St. Paul's, Jackson (Michigan), whom I have known for 40 years, but whose refusal to accept the authority of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church and whose comments about the Episcopal church (most recently in the London Times) considerably raise my normally low blood pressure. (I did also have friendly words with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church afterwards.) I also shook hands with the Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone and accepted his compliments.
I continue to meet many old friends, especially from Asia and Canada, but other places as well. I am still hunting for others. Participants, mostly Africans not expected to attend, continue to arrive, some against the will of their Primates.
Interestingly, some of the media does not really understand the concept of a "retreat", so that the last two days has been referred to in some places as a "private meeting" of the Archbishop with the bishops to discuss the current "crisis". I understand that the media is also quite unhappy with being excluded from the retreat and the cathedral precincts these two days. The new bishop of Harare told me today that the Zimbabwe media report that the Conference opened with "a big fight", very far indeed from the truth. The retreat has one more half day, but it will be at the Conference venue. We go back to the Cathedral on Sunday for the opening service.
The presence of the Lambeth Chaplaincy team, members of religious communities (many from Melanesia) is already a blessing. Their morning prayer is very well attended and there were Melanesian harmonies at the Eucharist this morning. The Canterbury Cathedral choir gloriously sang at the small service closing each day of the retreat. The rumble of the Lord's Prayer in so many languages would have warmed any charismatic's heart.
The biggest weakness so far is the composition of some of the Bible study groups, both of bishops and of spouses. Some groups present little cultural variety (for example, our nine Church of Melanesia bishops are divided among only three groups, and some groups are entirely Anglo-Saxon). Walking back from dinner this evening, I heard the horror story of two of the Canadian spouses, aggressively attacked by four American and English spouses just back from the GAFCON conference in Jerusalem, breaking every rule of the Bible study group. The four attackers paid little attention to the "global south" spouse facilitating the group and also attacked her. The matter has been reported. Jane Williams has her work cut out for her. One other weakness is that it is not possible to obtain a list of the bishops and spouses present, as to release such a list apparently contravenes British laws of privacy.
I shall stop here. Keep praying.
With love, Terry
* * * * *
Day 3, Saturday, July 19, 2008
Today, Saturday, was a lighter day: Eucharist (still led by the Chaplaincy Team), breakfast, Bible study and the last session of the Archbishop's retreat. The latter was held in the "big top" and was very hot and without breeze. The afternoon was free. We then welcomed ecumenical participants at a late afternoon service.
In his final address, Rowan moved from yesterday's concluding subject of episcopal ministry in communion, to the nature of true Christian leadership, using Hebrews 10: 19-25: Jesus' leadership is that of leading us through the veil to a place we cannot go by ourselves, clearing the way to the Cross and to God. Christian leadership, he commented, is not about giving commands or even making decisions but rather about following Jesus who opens the new way; indeed, leading and following are the same. He cited Alan Ecclestone's paper on the episcopate in the preparatory documents for the 1978 Lambeth Conference, where Ecclestone declared that episkope is "insight as well as oversight". (Ecclestone interprets St. Paul's blindness on the road as a prototype: "the effacement of well-known images of reality so that the new vision may be seen.") Rowan's reinterpretation: The episcopate suffers from too much command and decision-making; and not enough of following Christ in "opening the new way". The worst failure is not wrong command or wrong decision, but failure to hope in Christ; and for the future it is hope rather than anxiety that is binding. Buried in the Hebrews passages is the instruction, "do not neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another", surely a comment on the refusal of some to be present, indeed, those held together by anxiety rather than hope.
The late afternoon worship was a liturgy of the word, welcoming the ecumenical participants, who number some 75, many of whom were present. Rowan gave a brief homily (for the feast day of St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. Macrina) noting Gregory's definition of the perfection of God's love in us as having no definition, that is, no limit and no end -- that there is always a further journey of love, never a point of complete perfection after which there is no more. He related this view of perfection with the bottomless well of the water of eternal life in today's Bible study reading, John 4. And finally, in the quest for the unity of the church, with a patristic reading from St. Dorotheus of Gaza (6th century), the concluding sentence of which read, "The nearer we draw to God in love for him, the more we are united together by love for our neighbour; and the greater our union with our neighbour, the greater is our union with God."
The book that was handed out for the service did not just include the order of service but letters of greeting from some 27 church leaders, starting with the Pope and Ecumenical Patriarch, continuing through the Patriarchs of Moscow, Romania, Armenia, Cilicia, Antioch and Assyria; the World Council of Churches, Lutheran World Federation, all the protestant churches; the Moravians, Salvation Army, the Pentecostal World Fellowship and the Seventh Day Adventist Church; and the Old Catholics and Scandinavian and North American Lutheran churches. I think representatives of almost all these churches are now present. This very large group is a stronger ecumenical presence than at the 1998 Lambeth Conference; and I do not recall a special service to welcome ecumenical partners. The Conference gave the ecumenical participants a long ovation.
Each ecumenical partner has been paired with one of the Lambeth bishops, who will take him or her to their common Bible study group and look after them generally. In the evening I had dinner with the Maronite Bishop of Israel and the Holy Land based in Haifa (a trained psychiatrist) and the Bishop of Chester with whom he has been paired.
This outpouring of ecumenical presence and support for the Conference suggests that this is indeed the Lambeth Conference, and other Anglican conferences claiming a higher authority and rejecting this Conference are on rather thin ground. However, many of those absent would also deny the presence of God's grace in many of the churches represented by the ecumenical participants.
I had breakfast with the one bishop from Rwanda at the Conference. He tells me the others wanted to come but their Archbishop forbade it. The province of Rwanda now has nine bishops in Rwanda and nine (all Americans) in the USA. There is no provision in the constitution of the province for the consecrating of the bishops overseas; it has been a unilateral action of their Archbishop. It all began with a request from an unhappy parish in Little Rock, Arkansas and the Archbishop began to offer episcopal oversight. It is hard to believe that the US Rwandan bishops will survive the present Archbishop's eventual moving on, unless they manage to choose his successor. The co-opting of the Anglican Church of Rwanda by US clergy unhappy with the Episcopal Church to form an alternative episcopal and parish structure in the US is one of the tragedies of the current conflicts. The Archbishop of Rwanda tried to convince his fellow Primates in Burundi and Sudan to boycott Lambeth but they refused. We had a good conversation, though I heard later that he is living in Strasbourg and is not returning to Rwanda; like seventeenth century Anglican refugees from Puritanism, he has fled to Europe.
I am told that the one Nigerian bishop who broke ranks and came has gone home, fearing for the safety of his wife back in Nigeria. If the story is true, it yet again reflects the slightly thuggish quality of the Anglican Church in Nigeria.
Bishops continue to arrive (British visas are not easy these days), and now that the retreat has finished, many translators, including friends from Japan and Korea. Much work is going on behind the scenes to prepare next week's programme. It looks like there will be some revision of the composition of some Bible study groups.
The fifteen-minute walk between conference facilities and my accommodation is great for meeting people; this evening on the walk I discovered the bishop of Amritsar, a diocese I visited frequently when in Toronto. Another place I would like to visit again, especially the hills of Simla.
That is all for today.
With love, Terry
* * * * *
Day 4, Sunday, July 20, 2008
The opening Lambeth Conference Eucharist this morning at Canterbury Cathedral was magnificent. We, some 680 bishops, waited about an hour and a half in the crypt of the cathedral, and then were led into the cathedral from the west door in section after section, each led by a verger. My respect for cathedral vergers has increased considerably. Unlike previous Lambeth conferences, bishops did not process in by provinces (there would have been some gaps), but thoroughly mixed, two by two. I was with old friends from North India. (As we lined up, the Bishop of Nasik declared, "You are my partner!") Unlike 1998, where the bishops were consigned to the nave and only primates were with the Archbishop in the choir, all bishops were accommodated in the choir or the transepts. I was in the south transept (the luck of the draw), not a very good vantage point but I saw everything on a large plasma screen.
The cathedral choir moved from the ethereal melodies of the processions to a very adventuresome mass setting, the "Missa Luba", "a version of the Latin Mass based on traditional Congolese songs", first sung in 1958. The languages of the Eucharist were English and Swahili, with Rowan managing a Swahili Sursum Corda ("Lift up your hearts"). Lessons were in English, Korean and French; intercessions in Hindi, Portuguese, Japanese and French. The hymnody was excellent, contemporary hymns of justice and inclusiveness.
But for most, I suspect the liturgical highlight was the dancing in and out of the Gospel by members of the four Melanesian religious communities, members of the Lambeth Chaplaincy Team from the Solomons, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. (The communities are the Melanesian Brotherhood, the Sisters of Melanesia, the Sisters of the Church and the Society of St. Francis.) As is common in Malaita, they danced in the Gospel in a small wooden canoe carried by the Sisters. All were in traditional Melanesian custom dress, and though their number was small, their panpipes, song, rattles, drums and shouts filled the cathedral. From my position I could not see much and the acoustics were not good but all who were in the choir and nave assure me that the performance was spectacular and deeply moving. After the Gospel was read, many, including Archbishop Rowan, joined in clapping along with the dancers as they sang to a custom tune, "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Only the Orthodox bishops around the Archbishop remained dour, perhaps not used to quite so much naked flesh in the liturgy. Of course, Malaita was well represented amongst the dancers.
Duleep de Chickera, Bishop of Colombo, preached. His sermon was superb. Rowan visited Sri Lanka last year and I am sure that his experience of Duleep and the enormously faithful ministry he has exercised in the midst of the tragedy of Sri Lanka -- Duleep's deep commitment to justice, reconciliation and interfaith friendship, his daily carrying of the Cross in an utterly intractable situation, influenced his choice. His trust was not misplaced.
His text was 2 Corinthians 12:9, "'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness'" and his theme, "the recognition of our vulnerability makes growth possible in Christian discipleship". He noted two realities as we meet as the Anglican Communion:
(1) Our world is a torn and divided world and God gives the church an agenda out of the cries of the world -- that the Anglican Communion should give highest priority to the invitation of Christ to transform God's world with Christian justice, peace and reconciliation. "The world in pain, in and after this conference, must receive the energy and spirituality of our church." And (2) we are a wounded community, some are not here and all is not well. The crisis is complex and cannot be resolved instantly; there is a long arduous journey ahead. Reflecting on the day's Gospel reading, the parable of the wheat and the tares (Matthew 13: 24-30, 36-43, the regular lection for the Sunday, not chosen especially for the occasion) he urged all parties to stay together. "In the words of the master, let them [the wheat and the tares] grow together. If we are determined to uproot the unrighteous, none will remain. We are all a mix of wheat and weeds. Let us stay together because we share a common heritage." He cited the example of Christ Church, Jaffna, in northern Sri Lanka, becoming a centre of peace and reconciliation after many years of the most violent conflict -- the old relations are gradually transformed as dialogue takes place.
He concluded with three challenges of how to strengthen Anglican identity and enable bishops better able to participate in God's mission: (1) "our Communion must return to the tradition and practice of self-scrutiny . . . evaluate and examine our lives . . . be hard on ourselves, use Christ only as our measure"; (2) our Communion must rise to the challenge of unity in diversity. "In Christ, we are all equal. There is enough to go around if we are not greedy. Ours must be an inclusive Communion, where there is space for everyone, regardless of gender, ability, race or sexual orientation"; and (3) the prophetic voice must be active -- in being the voice of the voiceless and calling into accountability those who abuse power, even though that prophetic voice must become monotonous if the injustice continues. He concluded with a quotation from William Temple, "the church is the one institution that does not live for itself" -- that our aim should be abundant life for the other.
The sermon was greeted with applause and Duleep concluded with a prayer for justice and reconciliation, using a Sri Lankan Buddhist chant. I have summarized the sermon very briefly but I am sure the full text is or will be soon available on the Lambeth Conference website or the Anglican Communion News Service website.
After the service there was much photo-taking, meeting of old friends and general milling about in the cathedral precincts. Walking back to the coaches we were met with the usual placards accusing us of being the whore of Babylon, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the like. I am told that a few traditionalist bishops did not receive communion and I know some spouses did not as well. But our block received en masse. Duleep's sermon was an expression of the maturity of Christianity in south Asia in the face of much injustice and suffering. He is a friend of many years.
After a quick lunch and an addition of clothes (England is cold!), we were back at the "big top" for a major orientation session on the structure of the conference. The event was divided into three "acts": an introduction to the process of the Conference, especially the use of so-called Indaba groups; an update on the conference's role in the Anglican Covenant and Windsor Continuation Process; and the Archbishop of Canterbury's first Presidential Address. I shall say just a bit about each.
Archbishop Ellison (Melanesia) outlined the history of the Lambeth design group and Archbishop Ian Ernest (Mauritius, Indian Ocean) (speaking in French) outlined expectations for the next two weeks. Archbishop Thabo (Southern Africa) explained that "indaba" was a Zulu word for the process a village uses to resolve a problem, in which everyone is guaranteed a voice. (A list of Indaba groups was passed out as we entered. Each Indaba group [there are 16 of them] consists of five Bible study groups. As each Bible study group consists of about eight people, each Indaba group would have about 40 people in it.) Archbishop Roger Herft (Perth) outlined the process by which the results of the Indaba group discussions would be formed into a Conference message. Bishop Miguel Tamayo (Uruguay and Cuba) ended Act I with getting everyone to sing a lively Cuban song.
In Act II, Archbishop Drexel Gomez (West Indies) outlined the Anglican Covenant process to date, especially the work of the Covenant Design group. The Lambeth Conference is not being asked to approve or disapprove the current text, but simply to give input. There will be self-select workshops on various sections of the proposed Covenant. It is clear that Drexel already realizes that the Appendix is in trouble, deservedly so. (More on that in later dispatches.) Then Bishop Clive Handford, (Cyprus and the Middle East, retired), the Chair of the Windsor Continuation Process group reported on the work of that group. (This small group is to deal with recommendations of the Windsor Report on the unity of the Communion other than the proposed Anglican Covenant.) This was by far the most problematic presentation of the afternoon. After explaining past and present processes, he summarized (supposedly) the group's preliminary "analysis" of "causes" of the current crisis, rather pre-empting the upcoming presidential address. We then discussed with our neighbour "what surprised us" and "what reassured you". The Scottish bishop I was sitting beside and I both agreed that the previous presentation was highly problematic. After another Cuban song, we moved on to Act III.
Rowan, standing to present his Presidential Address, was met with a standing ovation, which he did not enjoy. I am sure that the address will soon be available on one of the websites in full, so I shall summarize only briefly. He began with the great significance of the Conference in the history of the Anglican Communion -- that all eyes are on us: our people's, the media's and, indeed, God's -- and that we must make the most of it. He reminded us that conflict is not new, whether in the life of the Lambeth Conferences or church history as a whole. He dealt squarely with the accusation that the Indaba process was an attempt to avoid the issues by replacing substance with process. He pointed out that earlier Lambeth Conferences have produced many weighty resolutions but often no real results. Input from many non-western partners (for example in the Design Group) was that the western juridical and legalistic model of previous conferences did not allow weak voices to be heard, or all members of the conference to have ownership of the results. He urged all to participate faithfully in the Indaba model.
In reflecting on the future of the Anglican Communion he mentioned three other models that are being suggested, on both the "left" and the "right": a "federation" of Anglican churches only loosely related, a "family of regional or national churches" also only occasionally related to one another, and a centralized authority that was strong and consistent in its control of diversity. He rejected all three alternate models, in favour (still) of a Communion held together by "counsel and covenant". In such a model, unacceptable diversity would be limited by consent rather than control; prayerful consultation would become routine and accepted; but Covenant would not be a way of excluding the "rebellious". Covenant, properly understood and exercised, should produce neither "irreparable schism" nor "forced conformity". What is desired is "common prayer and mutual care." In all the crucial issues facing the Communion, it is wrong to use one issue as an excuse for not addressing another. My summary is crude but those were a few of the points. We concluded with evening prayer, led by Bishop James Tengatenga of Malawi, including a rousing version of "Praise my soul the king of heaven".
Sister Anita (Mother Superior of the Community of the Sisters of the Church; I am episcopal visitor of the Community in the Solomons) and I had dinner to discuss the upcoming workshop for bishops who are visitors to religious communities. We then walked over to the Franciscan Study Centre, where the religious community members of the Lambeth Chaplaincy Team are staying, to watch the BBC evening news to see how they covered the opening service. The news report began with the Brothers dancing in the Gospel, then moved to a clip of Duleep's offering a "stern rebuke to the traditionalists"; then came an interview with (Evangelical traditionalist) Bishop Gregory Venables, Primate of the Southern Cone, saying that the Anglican Communion had come to the end of the line; then a clip of Bishop Gene Robinson's outdoor Holy Communion and picnic (rather sparsely attended it would appear) somewhere nearby. Gene is scheduled to appear at three self-select groups sponsored by some Episcopal Church bishops later in the Conference. Press coverage continues to concentrate on schism; certainly some members of the Conference are cooperating with that agenda, despite Rowan's pleas not to do so.
I should have gone to the Diocese of Seoul Mothers' Union choir and concert this evening but I wanted to write this report. Tomorrow is Korea day, so I shall catch up with them then.
That is all for this evening.
With love, Terry
* * * * *
Day 5, Monday, July 21, 2008
This morning the Anglican Church of Korea was responsible for the daily Eucharist. The Primate, Archbishop Francis Park, presided and preached a brief homily. He reflected on various experiences of the absence of God, including divisions in the Anglican Communion, changes in Korean society including an increased gap between rich and poor; and the experience of the absence of God in Korean history in the Korean War and the division of Korea. However, as the day's lessons moved from the same experience of the absence of God (Israel in exile in Egypt, the disciples upon the rough sea) to liberation, so has the Korean Anglican church been an agent of liberation -- in the democratization of Korean society, the ecumenical movement, dialogue with other religions and the establishment of "houses of sharing" in poverty-stricken urban areas. Why cannot the Anglican Communion take the same step, following the Gospel stories that move from the absence to the presence of God?
As if to make the point even more vivid, just before the Peace, Sister Katherine announced that the Primate of the Nippon Seikokai (the Anglican Church in Japan) would come forward to pray in thanksgiving for the reconciliation that has taken place between Japanese and Korean Anglicans over the past twenty years. Bishop Uematsu's prayer recognized Japan's invasion and colonization of Korea and the atrocities committed by Japan, thanking God for the reconciling forgiveness and love of the past twenty years, praying that the two churches would dedicate themselves to peace in northeast Asia, including the reunification of Korea. It was indeed a model for the Communion. The service closed with the haunting Korean hymn, "Come Now, O Prince of Peace" (Korean, Ososo), led by the Korean Mothers' Union Choir.
I do not intend to write much about my Bible study group as I think the conversations have to be regarded as private. We are from Canada (2), England (1), Kenya (1), Madagascar (1), USA (1) Solomon Islands (2) and Vanuatu (1). At first I was not so happy about three of us from the Church of Melanesia being in the same group but now I think it is not such a bad idea, as it allows us to listen to each other in a way we sometimes do not do in the midst of many meetings in Honiara or Auki. Our chair is the Bishop of Fredericton (Canada), the diocese in which I was ordained, so there is a good connection there and it has been a chance to catch up on old friends. The Kenyan bishop is here despite the resolution of the Anglican Church of Kenya to send no bishops to Lambeth. He explained that he felt a very strong call to come and that his Primate did give him permission to come, just as long it was understood that he was here in a personal capacity only, not representing the province. It strikes me that we are a very compatible group.
Our Bible study group then moved on to our first Indaba group, joining four other Bible study groups for an Indaba group of about 40. It is a very good mix. Our animateur is a no-nonsense bishop from South Africa. In the morning we reflected on the primary work of the Anglican bishop, first in pairs, then in groups of six. Each Indaba group has an external recorder, who records and collates the work of the group.
The second Indaba group in the late afternoon was on the Bishop and Anglican identity. It was basically a discussion of the document "The Anglican Way: Signposts on a Common Journey" , (http://www.anglicancommunion.org/ministry/theological/signposts/english.cfm ) produced by the Primates' Taskforce on Theological Education for the Anglican Communion (TEAC) "Anglican Way" consultation in Singapore last year. I was part of that consultation as well as the drafting committee that produced the document, so it was interesting to hear it discussed. We broke into four groups, each discussing one of the sections (Scripture, Worship, Communion and Mission). The group basically liked the document, which was cheering, considering how hard we struggled with it over three years.
However, the discussion did not take place without some first complaints emerging about the Indaba process from some of the provincial meetings that had just been held, for example, the fear that every subject might be talked down to the lowest common denominator. There are certainly potential problems, for example, 40 people jammed into a small room, further dividing into four groups, discussing in one hour what had taken years to produce, and then moving from day to day to very different topics (with the Anglican Covenant and sex at the end). There is a problem of "ownership" and some people are still not reassured that there are no hidden agenda. Others would like to go straight to the controversial topics, in effect, denying the validity of the process of trust-building. There will be another Indaba group tomorrow morning and then the Design Group will look at the process. The process itself, despite its catchy name, is not particularly new. What is new is using it a Lambeth Conference to allow all to participate. And it is very clear that about 70 percent of the bishops here have never been to a Lambeth Conference before. I still favour the process but it is clear that some are gunning for it.
In the evening was a plenary presentation by an apparently well known U.S. evangelist, Dr. Brian McLaren, entitled (and I give the whole title, so I do not have to summarize the presentation), "Changing contexts: breaking open our models for evangelism -- What does Evangelism look like in modern, post-modern, colonial and post-colonial contexts and how can bishops deal with complexities and opportunities of these diverse contexts?" Rowan enthusiastically introduced him (partly on the basis of McLaren's book, Generous Orthodoxy) and his presentation was well received by the audience. The intellectual in me did not much like the high level of simplification he used in discussing cultural change; nor has my experience so far in England of "emerging church" been very positive. I also thought he was somewhat patronizing in his discussion of Africa. However, I was tired and the slightly "American televangelism" style of his presentation put me off. I don't think it was just me, as quite a few headed toward the doors during the break given to write questions.
After dinner, while waiting for the evening event, I visited the Marketplace which opened today. It has bookstores, vestment stores, and stalls for various organizations. At the Integrity stall, I ran into one of my former parishioners from Epiphany Church, Scarborough (Toronto), Chris Ambidge, who is staffing their stall. We sat down and had a good visit, as I had not seen him in years. He told me of the Integrity/Changing Attitude Eucharist yesterday afternoon after the Cathedral Eucharist. (I mentioned it in yesterday's letter from what I saw on BBC, which focussed only on Gene Robinson.) There were indeed 160 persons present, including 33 bishops. Gene did not preside or preach but only attended. (I did see Gene today but -- not uncommonly -- he had the media about him so I did not speak.)
The issue of "open" and "closed" Eucharists is one slight problem of the conference. The main daily Conference Eucharist is open only to bishops, spouses, staffs and official guests. This is for security reasons (disruption from either the "left" or "right" and there is certainly potential for both). So the Lambeth Chaplaincy Team holds another Eucharist later every morning at the Franciscan Study Centre for those staffing the Market Place and others not allowed into the main Conference Eucharist. To their credit, aside from yesterday, Integrity/Changing Attitudes is not holding a parallel Eucharist, although it is holding a parallel Bible study. In past Lambeth Conferences (I am not absolutely sure about this one), "traditionalist" Anglicans opposed to the ordination of women have also held a daily Eucharist, presided over by bishops or priests whose hands have never ordained a woman. One does not really like to see altar set against altar over controversial issues in the church, as the Eucharist should aid in healing, rather than institutionalizing divisions. I suppose the restricting of attendance at the main Conference Eucharist is a triumph of Anglican common sense over good theology.
This morning I bought the Times and the Guardian to see how they covered yesterday morning's opening service at the cathedral. One of the Times stories ("The shindig begins with nerves and half-naked dancers") quoted only US bishops (mostly enthusiastic, except for the Bishop of Pittsburgh who disliked Duleep's Buddhist chant, even though Duleep said very clearly that the prayer was to the Holy Trinity). The second Times story largely only quoted Rowan's presidential address. The Guardian article ("Simmering dissent, pleas for unity and grass skirts in the aisles as Anglicans meet") also summarized Rowan's presidential address but complained that he left the cathedral by the wrong door causing confusion and did not clap in time with the rhythms of the Melanesian dancers. Again, Bob Duncan, the Bishop of Pittsburgh, was pulled out to condemn the whole thing. You can't win. Between the two, the Times account was more accurate and ended with a very positive compliment about the Cathedral service: "One Roman Catholic present, who asked not to be named, told The Times: 'It was an extraordinary service, enough to make me consider becoming an Anglican'".
All day I have been receiving compliments about yesterday's Melanesian Gospel procession. It moved many to tears (as it has often done me). Despite their dour looks, my friend with good Orthodox contacts tells me that Metropolitan Kalistos Ware of England loved it. I have often thought that our elaborate Gospel and Offertory processions bear some resemblance to the Lesser and Greater Entrances of the Orthodox Liturgy.
Bed calls. Please keep us in your prayers.
With love, Terry
* * * * *
Day 6, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
This morning's daily Eucharist was led by the Church of the Province of Central Africa (the nations of Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Malawi) with three bishops presiding and the rest of the CPCA bishops on stage. It was in Swahili and English. Bishop James Tengtenga of Southern Malawi diocese, a member of the Lambeth Conference Design Group, preached a short homily on the daily Bible study text of John 6: 25-59. He preached on Jesus and ourselves as Sign, not to be confused with the signs that the world wants (miracles, transformation of society, alleviation of poverty, etc). "Jesus gives the bread [the sign, a 'what'] but is himself the Wonder Bread [the Sign, a 'Who']". "Are we, can we be, the Wonder Bread, living not in malice but in sincerity and peace?" For me, the only complication with the "Wonder Bread" image was its association with the brand name of an overly-processed white bread of my childhood, now realized to be rather unhealthy. One had to ignore that to get the message: to be a Sign in one's lifestyle, relationships and ministry, rather than to be caught up in only providing the signs, what people want, expect and even need.
There followed the showing of the Day 2 "Lambeth Journal" video being prepared as the only official record of the Conference. It consists of short video clips of interviews with participants. The most striking interview was that of Bishop Dinis Singulane, Bishop of Lebombo (Mozambique) for whom this was his fourth Lambeth Conference. He spoke of the major conflicts of the last three Conferences (Zimbabwe in 1978, women bishops in 1988, human sexuality in 1998) and how the Conferences managed to get through them with results that most were satisfied with. Of course, such an explanation requires a certain amount of fudging, but it was a pep talk for this Conference and all the problems it faces. At the end of the video, as a lead-in to Indaba group discussions on evangelism, Bishop Malik of Lahore spoke of how Christians in Pakistan were the first to provide earthquake relief to northern Pakistan, even to areas where there were no Christians whatsoever. The daily clips will be put together and the complete version given to all bishops to take home with them. They may already be online on the Lambeth Conference website, as many of the speeches are, including Duleep's Sunday sermon.
After Bible study, we returned again to our Indaba groups for a discussion of the bishop as evangelist. There was good organization and we placed ourselves in self-select groups of four to discuss various aspects of evangelism. I chose "other faiths" and had a stimulating discussion with the bishops of Barbados, Cyprus and the Gulf, and Kushtia (Bangladesh) -- with Malaita added, two dioceses with large Muslim majorities in which the definition of Christian evangelism is being seriously rethought, and two largely Christian dioceses now having to deal with emerging small Muslim communities. We then re-organized into our Bible study groups, within the room, and discussed and made recommendations to the Communion and Provinces on how they might better support dioceses and bishops in evangelism. A Maori bishop surfaced in our discussion but I am not sure if he is staying. Our Indaba group contains Korean and Burmese bishops, both groups being provided with translators.
In the afternoon I attended my first "self-select" group, "Towards Peace in Korea TOPIK 2007 Follow up". This was a follow-up session to an international conference on peace and reunification I attended in Korea (North and South) last November. The Primate of Korea, Archbishop Francis Park, the Coadjutor Bishop of Seoul Diocese, Bishop Paul Kim (who organized the TOPIK event and was elected bishop a week later), the Primate of Japan, Bishop Nathaniel Uematsu, and the Bishop of Okinawa, David Tani, all spoke. Other bishops who attended TOPIK were also there, including all the Korean bishops, other Japanese bishops, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, and Archbishop Roger Herft of Perth. There were no new episcopal faces, representing, I suppose, Lambeth bishops' concerns about their own diocesan priorities in selecting groups to go to and the isolation of the Korean (and even Japanese) Anglican churches in terms of outside relationships.
We had a good update of the situation between North and South Korea (a decline in relations since the election of a conservative government in South Korea in January); of Bishop Paul's recently delivering 30 tonnes of rice to North Korea from the Anglican Church of Korea; and of issues around the remilitarization of Japan. We strategized around how to bring the issue of the reunification of Korea and peace in Northeast Asia more to the fore. One irony is that while relations between North and South Korea decline, relations between North Korea and the US improve. Because of the US's key role on the Korean peninsula, it was good to have the Presiding Bishop there. We also discussed the possibility of a visit to North and South Korea by the Archbishop of Canterbury, made more complicated by his being not just the senior Metropolitan of the Church of England but, because of Establishment, a representative of the British state. How would the British government feel about the Archbishop of Canterbury visiting Pyongyang? So far efforts to get him there have not been successful.
In the evening, I attended the plenary session at which Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, of the Vatican, spoke (continuing the day's theme of the bishop and evangelism) on "Mission, Social Justice and Evangelisation". I found the address difficult. While the general structure was fine -- analysis of context and challenges of evangelism today, followed by three suggested avenues of evangelization -- once he began filling in the details, I found both excessive harshness and inconsistency. The analysis of context was almost entirely negative, starting with the Fall of Adam, and quickly jumping to New Age and Satanic movements, secularism, spiritual indifference, relativism, "abortions on demand", divorce, "moral aberrations", injustice (economic, social, political), violence, murders, suicide -- noting that family life and youth are particularly vulnerable to this "culture of death". Avenues for evangelism put forward were "exemplary Christian living" (quoting a length from the second century "Letter to Diognetus"), inculturation and interreligious dialogue. Generally the description of the first avenue was quite detailed and prescriptive, if not legalistic; while the approach to the latter two areas was fluid, indeed, quite open and progressive. The address ended with a recitation of Newman's "Lead Kindly Light." The extremely hardnose approach to contemporary European culture I found depressing. I began to consider that last night's speaker might not be so bad after all.
However, I stuck it out for the questions. I am glad I did. He was asked various questions about Roman Catholic-Anglican theological agreement, contemporary examples of good evangelists and syncretism. With the questions, he came alive and it was as if a different person was speaking. In answer to the question about contemporary evangelists (he had only mentioned Newman, Chesterton and Belloc in his address, rather a dated list), he answered with a story of Mother Theresa's intending to visit her mother's grave to place flowers there, only to place the flowers on the grave of the Albanian dictator, Hoxha, when she discovered his grave was in the same cemetery. As to syncretism, as one from India, he gave the example of other Indian faiths' desire to participate in Christian holidays such as Christmas. His response was to welcome them, commenting, "Don't worry about syncretism if Christ is truly in your heart". Only when the questions were asked, did he begin to talk from experience and was alive.
I was left with only one conclusion and one question. The address, I suspect, must have been the official Vatican message to the Lambeth Conference. It was read off with exactitude and without any aside. It was "hard line" and inflexible. But once the Cardinal was away from the text, he was free and, indeed, faithful. Secondly, I do not understand why the generosity that he urged the church to extend to "other faiths" (for example, the religions of India) could not also be extended to the secular "faiths" of European culture, which are not without many positive values, rather than subject to constant condemnation. The latter is not good evangelisation. After it was all over, I went to night prayer led by the Chaplaincy team. Their morning and night prayer, full of silence, is very well attended.
Generally people are getting settled. I am told there are many "undercurrents" and others say this is the "calm before the storm". Others are still complaining about the timing of the Church of England General Synod's decision on the consecration of woman bishops and its effect on the Conference. I have not really seen any such effect nor experienced the "undercurrents". Attendance at the Eucharist is high and it is hard to find a seat in the dining rooms. There are queues everywhere. Perhaps some English bishops are opting in and out but I do not think their absence is much noticed. York and London are much present, although the Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright, does not seem to be around much, though maybe I have just not spotted him. I understand he sent out an email denouncing the presence of the US bishops at the Conference but it does not seem to have had any effect. Generally, the US bishops seem to be keeping a fairly low profile, concentrating on building relationships. They are given mixed messages, what one calls the "yo-yo effect", alternating acceptance and threatened rejection. But overall, this Lambeth is a tremendous improvement over the last one: many young and eager new bishops have replaced aging prelates with their cell phones and flashy kit. While one is sad that while (so the press numbers) 280 bishops have chosen not to attend, or been prevented from attending by their Primates, the majority that remain (680 or more) represent much hope for the future of the Communion.
The day has ended.
With love, Terry
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Day 7, July 23, 2008
The day began with a Eucharist celebrated by Bishop Miguel Tamayo of Cuba and his two assistant bishops (one, a woman) and all the Spanish-speaking bishops at the Conference. Miguel is an old friend from my Canadian days when he was an overseas partner to the Partners in World Mission Committee while Dean of Havana. He was later elected bishop of Uruguay (a position he still holds), then added Cuba to his list of sees. The diocese of Uruguay is a bit of an exception in the Province of the Southern Cone, the diocese having formally expressed its disapproval of its Primate's taking under his jurisdiction US bishops, dioceses, parishes and clergy unhappy with the Episcopal Church, and retired bishops and parishes unhappy with the Anglican Church of Canada, against the recommendations of the Windsor Report. Miguel gave a short reflection on Christ as the Light of the World (today's Bible study theme) and the Anglican/Episcopal Church as a light to the world for some 400 years. "Each of us is a flame making up the Anglican/Episcopal Church. Keep that fire alive and burning." The service was in Spanish though Miguel preached in English.
The Indaba group theme was "the Bishop and Social Justice". It began with viewing a short film featuring the Anglican Observer at the United Nations, Hellen Wangusa, assessing progress on the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). (These goals are to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a Global Partnership for Development.) At the same time a letter from Rowan was distributed explaining tomorrow's "Lambeth Conference Walk of Witness" in London in support of these goals, as George Brown and other world leaders go off to meet at the United Nations on September 25th on this issue.
We then divided into groups of seven to discuss progress on these goals in our individual contexts, the role of the bishop in supporting the implementation of these goals, and our own personal commitments for further work. Our group of seven contained one bishop each from Sudan, the USA, Bangladesh, Korea, Vanuatu, Scotland the Solomon Islands. All bishops could relate to the issue and discussion was good. It is no surprise that after decades of war, the Sudanese situation is the worst. The group's rapporteur will collate the results for the next Indaba meeting on Friday. Despite reports that the Primate of the Episcopal Church of Sudan has written a letter demanding the resignation of Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire (this letter has not been conveyed to members of the Conference but has been made public through the [what can only be called, hate-mongering] David Virtue website), relations between the Sudanese and US members of the Indaba group are good. Indeed, the Primate of Sudan is in our Indaba group. One surmises that the extreme vulnerability of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan in its predominantly Muslim context may have more to do with any such letter, than wishing to be separated from the Episcopal Church.
It was finally warm enough for a barbeque on the lawn of the University at lunch.
In the afternoon I attended the first "hearing" held by the "Windsor Continuation Group". This is a group of six theologians (mostly bishops) charged with carrying out other requests of the Windsor Report to enhance the unity of the Communion, besides the proposed Anglican Covenant which has its own design group. The Chair is Bishop Clive Hanford, former Primate of the province of Jerusalem and the Middle East. The "preliminary observations" given at the Sunday orientation did not just make me angry but many others as well; so the Group put together a new and expanded document which focused on the Anglican "instruments of unity" (the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primate's Meeting). The hearing was held in the sports hall, the site of the plenary of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, so many memories came back, some of them not very happy. However, I exorcised them by speaking, suggesting that the Communion's networks and commissions also be given a more formal designation as "instruments of unity" as often they (in the tradition of "Life and Works") bring together people who may have doctrinal conflicts that open discussion (in the "Faith and Order" tradition) cannot easily solve. I spoke because I simply wanted the suggestion to be placed on the record. It was probably the most uncontroversial suggestion of the hearing, except for that of the bishop of Kingston (Southwark) who suggested a similar role for Anglican worship.
The hearing was the first chance for open complaint, criticism and recommendations around how the Communion is dealing with its current crises. The full Windsor Continuation Group listened up front and did not speak, except for a small introduction. I did not count the number who spoke but it must have been about 15. The process was polite but sometimes the words were quite strong. A wide variety of views came out. Certainly one strong theme that came across was the chaos and unhappiness caused in Episcopal Church dioceses that have faithfully tried to follow the Windsor guidelines (not to mention the others), but have still found themselves invaded by "traditionalist" bishops from overseas seeking to exercise jurisdiction, a process quite explicitly forbidden by the Windsor Report. The Bishop of San Diego was most clear and eloquent on this issue. (Of course, "traditionalist" parishes and clergy in such dioceses seek outside oversight because they want a bishop who has absolutely nothing to do with the Episcopal Church, even if the local Episcopal bishop is doctrinally orthodox and faithful to the Windsor Report -- he is still seen as tainted because of his relations within the whole Episcopal Church House of Bishops.) In the end, the Archbishop of the West Indies tried to put the blame back on the Episcopal Church House of Bishops for not accepting the offer of the most recent Primates' Meeting for a Communion-organized system of alternative metropolitical episcopal oversight. That the Church of England General Synod recently rejected a similar sort of alternative oversight scheme around the controversy over women bishops must also be kept in mind. Two very interesting statistics came up in the presentations. Keith Ackerman, traditionalist Anglo-Catholic bishop of Quincy (Illinois) claimed there are presently 53 separate Episcopal jurisdictions in the US (that is, that many breakaway groups, presumably starting from the Reformed Episcopal Church in the last century) while Bishop John Chane, liberal bishop of Washington (DC) claimed that the number of Episcopalians in the USA directly affected by the "huge split" referred to by the Lambeth Continuation group was only 0.7% of the total Episcopal Church population.
I then moved across the campus to chair a bishops' self-select group on "Transformation: the Experience of Conflict and the Gospel of Peace", a presentation by Fr. Richard Carter, former Chaplain of the Melanesian Brothers, and members of the Lambeth Chaplaincy Team. It was a powerful presentation, narrating the role of the Melanesian Brothers and other religious communities in the Solomon Islands in the re-establishment of peace during the "ethnic tension" conflict of 1998-2004. I commend Richard's book, In Search of the Lost (Canterbury Press, Norwich, 2007) for an account of these events. The Brothers' peacemaking efforts resulted in the martyrdom of seven of them in 2004. The re-telling of the story today was not easy for those of us who were there, and one brother broke down into tears. A few bishops attended. Most of these who attended were stewards and other young people. The presentation will be repeated to all the spouses next week. The presentation, with some revision, is suitable for the bishops in plenary.
Evening prayer was taken in Arabic by the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, led by the Primate and Bishop of Egypt, Mouneer Anis. Toward the end of the service, the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem was introduced and came forward. He called Rowan forward and presented him the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, a high honour of the Patriarchate. He also thanked Jane Williams for her support and made reference to earlier centuries when Orthodox bishops could marry, somewhat longingly, I thought. He was quite charming.
This evening was the first evening of "Fringe Events" -- meetings of all sorts and varieties, organized by bishops, missionary societies, theological colleges and various outside bodies -- some public, some by invitation only. The most controversial one, needless to say, was "A Conversation with Bishop Gene Robinson" in which (to quote the programme) "Several bishops of The Episcopal Church invite you to meet and hear from our brother Bishop Gene Robinson, preceded by a discussion of Episcopal Church polity which led to his election and consecration". While the Conference programme says the event was "Open -- all conference participants welcome", I am told that in the end it was by invitation only. A Japanese bishop friend showed me his invitation and it looks like it took on a more social character as well. In any case, I did not go and have no news of the event, as I was participating in another invitation-only "Fringe Event".
This event was a meeting of all Episcopal Visitors or Protectors of Anglican religious communities. Sister Anita asked me to be a panel member (on the basis of my being the Episcopal Visitor of the Solomon Island Province of the Community of the Sisters of the Church, a large and growing community) along with Bishop Dominic Walker, OGS, Bishop of Monmouth (Wales) who is Visitor to six religious communities in England. Rowan was also supposed to come but pulled out because of needing to host another event. The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, however, came in his place. The three of us spoke out of our experiences and there was good discussion. About 50 Visitors and members of communities attended, including from England, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, the USA and South Africa. Issues discussed included different models of "visiting" (the friendly visit vs. the inspection), mutual expectations, fostering vocations, life vs. temporary vows, "dying communities", the solitary life, ecumenical communities, cross-cultural issues, etc. It was a useful evening. The last speaker was from the Sudan (which with its strong Evangelical tradition has never had vowed religious communities) describing groups of Christian women living by themselves together committed to serving the church, likening them to religious communities, and inviting the communities present to visit the Sudan.
It is late and I shall not attempt any further analysis. Tomorrow we are off to London early.
With love, Terry
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Day 8, July 24, 2007
We left early this morning for London for the "Walk of Witness for Millennium Development Goals" (MDGs) in London. We gathered, a huge number, many in national dress, at Whitehall near the old Scotland Yard. Led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, we walked past 10 Downing Street, Westminster Abbey, Parliament, along the Millbank Embankment to the Lambeth Bridge, and across to Lambeth Palace. All bishops were in cassocks, reporters were everywhere, BBC helicopters overhead. I am told the Walk was being covered live on television. I was good to be holding a placard again ("Do Justice, Love Mercy, Micah 6:8"). Many bystanders signalled their agreement. The weather was beautiful, bright and sunny.
At Lambeth Palace, we were met by music, then a programme featuring three speakers: Rowan, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and Hellen Wangusa, Anglican Observer at the United Nations. Leaders of all faith communities also marched with us and were present at Lambeth Palace.
Rowan first presented the Prime Minister with a letter about the MDGs on behalf of the Conference and then introduced him. Rowan noted the paradox that while the world is getting smaller, the divisions are getting larger and that the MDGs are an attempt to address this gap, positing a common future based on justice and compassion. He noted St Paul's injunction, that when one part suffers, all suffer. He commended the ecumenical "Micah Challenge" programme. He also praised the Prime Minister for his support of the MDGs.
Gordon Brown gave a rousing and passionate speech both in support of the Walk ("one of the greatest public demonstrations of faith in this great city") and the Millennium Development Goals. "Poverty can, must and will be eradicated!" It was pulpit oratory, deeply sincere, slightly archaic in style -- but whether he can convince other world leaders when he goes to the United Nations in September for the emergency meeting on the MDGs (their having fallen so far behind), remains to be seen. He urged Lambeth delegates to go back to their countries to convince their leaders to come to the United Nations with a deep commitment to getting the MDGs back on track and, indeed, to expand them.
Hellen replied, expressing her thanks for the Prime Minister's presence and deep commitment, and assured him that she would be at the United Nations in September to represent the views expressed by this Walk.
We then went into a sit-down lunch in the large covered dining area in the Lambeth Palace gardens. It was a pleasant lunch and I shared a table with friends from New Zealand and Tanzania. We milled about afterwards and I was finally able to find and talk with the Bishop of Lahore and his wife, with whom I stayed many years ago, as well as some others. We then went by coach to Buckingham Palace for the Queen's garden party.
Security at the Palace has increased considerably in ten years, and one needed a passport or other photo identification to get in, in addition to Conference identification. It was also a very pleasant event. My former Toronto colleague and close friend, David Hamid, Assistant Bishop of Europe, and I stuck together for the afternoon. We stood to await the Queen's arrival. She (with Canterbury) and Prince Philip (with York) moved down the line, talking separately with prearranged groups of bishops and spouses. We then retired to canapés and iced coffee, both very pleasant. I think it was a relaxing occasion for all after the very tight programme of the last few days. At the end of the afternoon we fought the London rush hour traffic back to Canterbury. The evening is free but I must prepare for our Church of Melanesia Council of Bishops meeting tomorrow during Conference time allocated for provincial meetings.
It seems to me that today represented one of Rowan's real hopes for the Conference, that it would make some sort of significant public witness, not just get bogged down in discussion of internal church controversies. I think all who walked felt that. I heard a bishop ahead of me say, "I never thought I would do anything like this." But for many, it was like being home, or doing what they would like to do at home but cannot.
After a long and tiring but enjoyable day,
with love, Terry
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Day 9, July 25, 2008
The day began with a Eucharist led by the Churches of North India (CNI) and Bangladesh, both United Churches in communion with the Anglican Communion. As the Moderator of the CNI has not come, the Deputy Moderator, Bishop Purely Lyngdoh, Bishop of North East India, presided and preached. The Bishop of Dhaka read the Gospel. The Deputy Moderator preached on reaffirming faith and trusting in the Lord in time of difficulties. We attempted to sing two Indian hymns.
The theme for today's Indaba groups was "the bishop and other churches", that is, ecumenism. We first watched a specially-produced video featuring Dame Mary Tanner (an English lay Anglican whose contributions to the ecumenical movement have been considerable) being interviewed by Dr. Gregory Cameron, Ecumenical Officer of the Anglican Communion, on "Called to be the Church, a statement adopted by the Ninth Assembly of the World Council of Churches at Porto Alegre, Brazil, February 2006". We then discussed in groups of four or five our experience of ecumenical cooperation in our local contexts in light of the practical proposals of the Anglican-Roman Catholic document, Growing Together in Unity and Mission. We then moved back into the full group to share positive and negative experiences, strains and general principles. Some interesting points were raised but I found that splitting the time between small and large groups (cut even shorter by initial group reflection on yesterday's walk) did not really allow for either group to develop any depth. There have been complaints in our Indaba group about constantly breaking into small groups, with the suggestion that it is now time for the group of 40 to meet as plenary and trust each other. I think that will probably begin to happen.
The first half of the afternoon was set aside for provincial meetings. We had a two-hour Church of Melanesia Council of Bishops meeting. As it is my last COB meeting, the Archbishop asked me to chair. The only advantage of that was that I did not have to take the minutes.
Later in the afternoon, I finally had a chance to go to a self-select group entirely of my free choice, so I chose "Prophecy and Proliferation: Mission Challenges from the African Independent Churches", led by the Rev'd Nicta Lubaale, General Secretary of the Organization of African Instituted Churches (OAIC), and Dr. John Padwick, a sociologist and staff member of OAIC. The principal presenter, the Most Rev'd Daniel Okoh, leader of a large AIC in Nigeria, was absent because he could not get a visa. I chose the group to see if there would be anything helpful for understanding the proliferation of new churches in the Pacific, including Malaita. The seminar was useful and we had some good discussion. Nicta, a Ugandan, told of the experience of his family's joining an AIC when he was a child and their church's persecution under Idi Amin. We were given a full presentation of the work of OAIC ("critical solidarity" with all the AICs) and OAIC's general typology of African Independent Churches. Sadly, participation was again poor -- only one bishop from Africa (the Sudan), two from England (both with Church Missionary Society links), one from Canada (the Arctic), a Ghanaian CMS Africa mission secretary, a World Council of Churches staff member and myself. As AIC members number 60 million worldwide, this movement is not a small esoteric subject. Alas, Anglicans are too self-concerned these days.
There was much that was fascinating: new churches begun by women prophets but taken over by men in the next generation; AICs as "giving self-worth and a sense of belonging to people driven to the margins"; the challenge to move from personal prophecy to political prophesy; the tension in AICs between accommodating to modernity and resisting it; and the importance of AICs outside Africa, especially in England. It was interesting to see CMS's moving towards acceptance and support of AICs, especially in England, while evangelical Anglican bishops in Africa strongly oppose this move. It would be ironic if the CMS's positive relationships with African Independent Churches and those churches' rich liturgical and sacramental practices turn the CMS in a more Catholic direction. We were each given what look to be two good OAIC resource booklets on "Personal Action on HIV and AIDS" and "Community Action on HIV and AIDS".
The evening plenary was on "Given the Ecological Crisis, what is the role of the Church?" in preparation for tomorrow's Indaba group on "Safeguarding Creation: the Bishop and the Environment". The principal speaker was Professor Chris Rapley, Director of the Science Museum, London, and previously Director of the British Antarctic Society. The presentation, which concentrated on the excessive use of fossil fuels and the disastrous effects on the earth as the resulting global warming, was excellent. He closed with a call for the churches to provide moral leadership in the area of reducing the carbon footprint on the world.
There followed an excellent video (prepared especially for the Conference) of 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Wangari Maathai, founder of the Greenbelt Movement, talking eloquently (and theologically) about planting trees. She and the Greenbelt Movement have planted some 40 million trees across Kenya. It is a video I would like to take back to the Solomons. Finally, there were two more speakers, Bishop George Browning of Canberra and Goulburn, Convenor of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, urging the audience to take up the cause and the work, for example, doing carbon audits of diocesan offices and programmes and changing accordingly; and Bishop Dinis of Lebombo, giving examples of the "bad news" of the effects of climate change on malaria (it will soon be coming to England), cashew nuts (their season in Mozambique has gone crazy) and water ("a flood is an interval between draughts"), along with the "good news" of technology to address climate change, Anglican credibility, Anglican financial resources and, bottom line, God's care and power. The evening was long but most stuck it out to the end.
The Lambeth Conference goes on quietly but many other small Lambeth Conferences also go on, in the hallways, along the roads and, I suppose, behind closed doors. For some US "traditionalists", like Keith Ackerman of Quincy, the first priority would appear to be to publicly embarrass or call into question the leadership of the Episcopal Church, no matter what the cost. For example, on the day we all walked (Ackerman included), you would think he might have been able to keep quiet, to allow the walk to have priority in the media. Instead, this morning's Guardian, rather than featuring the walk, has a long interview with Ackerman denouncing the Episcopal Church's guidelines to bishops for dealing with the media -- and the walk gets just a few paragraphs at the end of the story. ("However, the warring factions were able to put aside their differences -- for one day only -- as they marched through central London to pledge their commitment to cut global poverty".)
However, there is a two-page Guardian spread of Bishop Ralph Spence (Niagara, retired, chaplain to Conference stewards) and an Indian bishop (of roughly equal sizes) "doing" the walk in London rickshaws. The Lambeth Conference of the media is a combination of reality, rumour, fantasy and omission.
Keep us in your prayers.
With love, Terry
* * * * *
Day 10, July 26, 2008
The Anglican Church of Australia led the morning Eucharist, with the Primate, Phillip Aspinall, presiding. The Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn preached, continuing his theme of last night -- seeing (as the man born blind was healed and could see, in John 9) the environment with new eyes. We sang a delightful Australian hymn. The first stanza reads,
Where wide sky rolls down and touches red sand,
Where sun turns to gold the grass of the land,
Let spinifex, mulga and waterhole tell
Their joy in the One who made everything well.
Our Bible study group threw caution to the wind and decided to share where each of us stood on issues of human sexuality and the unity of the Anglican Communion. It was a good exercise in truth-telling and we were still friends afterwards, despite very different perspectives. Unfortunately, two were away but I am sure they will catch up. I was struck at how much easier it is to talk about sexuality than ten years ago. And how complex are the contexts and issues.
Our Indaba group began with a short video brought by the Bishop of Phulbani of the Church of North India, Bishop Bijay Nayak, about the Hindu-nationalist anti-Christian riots in his diocese in the interior of Orissa state late last year, causing many deaths and much damage to church property. I visited the area in the early nineties when it was still part of the diocese of Cuttack, so the video was of much interest. The Church of North India continues to experience persecution by Hindu nationalists and the situation is worsening. The nationalists try to pressurize Christians, many of whom are converts to Christianity from their tribal religions, to give up Christianity and become Hindus. In this case, the police simply stood by while people were beaten and killed. These events are not widely known. Members of the Indaba group promised to try to help, channelling any aid through the Church of North Indian central office in Delhi.
We then broke into groups of six and discussed the environmental issues in our particular contexts and brainstormed on how the Anglican Communion could work more closely on this issue. I found the exercise valuable and there was much mutual learning.
At lunch on the lawn, the Solomon Islanders in the Lambeth Chaplaincy team played the panpipes and danced. Some of the Church of Melanesia bishops and spouses (including me) joined in the dancing, inviting others in as well. It wasn't quite Malaita, but it was a start.
Then came the bishops' group photo, another moment (like the retreat and the walk) at which complete unity mysteriously intrudes. No one wants to be left out of the photo. This year "convocation dress" (rochet and chimere) was called for but for many provinces that is exotic English dress, so there was great variety. I wore a white cassock with my Malaita pallium. It took about an hour to get everyone up on the scaffolding. It was a very relaxed and good-humoured event, much more so than ten years ago. Once everyone was almost in place, there was a magnificent rendition of all five verses of "Amazing Grace". Someone suggested going on to "Nearer my God to Thee", but that was not picked up, though it would have been just what the media wanted. We had a good Church of Melanesia bishops' group photo afterwards.
Conversations and listening are going on. Yesterday the US bishops invited the Sudanese bishops to lunch and there was good mutual sharing. The Sudanese explained that they were not intending to break fellowship with the Episcopal Church but felt that they must let their stand be known on the sexuality issue. They denied knowledge of some of the other parts of the English version of their statement, which suggests that its English-speaking author or translator had added some additional US "traditionalist" agenda into the statement. The two churches continue to realize that they need each other.
In the late afternoon today I attended Evening Prayer, organized by the Episcopal Church. One was met by a thirty-strong Bishops and Spouses Choir, singing a medley of American songs, from black spirituals to more traditional hymns. The choir was quite good, especially the soloists, male and female, including the bishops of Indianapolis, Chicago and the suffragan bishop of New York. Bishop Gayle Harris, Suffragan bishop of Massachusetts led the service. Psalm 8 was sung to Anglican chant, with verses sung sequentially in English, Spanish and French, and the cycle repeated. For the lesson Suffragan Bishop of New York, Catherine Roskam, narrated Genesis 1, with Bishop Michael Curry of North Carolina reading the part of God, appropriate to his black roots. The whole service was signed, the description of the beasts in the Garden of Eden especially vividly so. As has been the case with many of the Evening Prayers, we watched a short DVD on the work of the church in lieu of another sermon. The whole event was, I thought, well planned and a pleasure to be a part of.
At the close of the service, Rowan came forward and reported on today's deliberations of the Lambeth Design Group (LDG) around suggestion that the timetable be accelerated to deal with "the important issues" sooner. He noted that many had expressed concern about leaving very important matters to the end of the Conference and that there would not be enough time to deal with them. He reported that after discussion, the LDG was not prepared to recommend a general alteration to the programme because (1) many people are already involved in each day's work next week and that it would not be easy to omit them from the programme and (2) there was the danger of beginning with the "big issues" and never getting on to others issues which for many are also very important. He noted that some provinces are deeply concerned about sexuality but others are not, and that it would not be fair to the provinces less interested to let the sexuality agenda take over.
He also pointed out that (1) the Indaba process was meant to be flexible, as long as the full range of subjects is covered and everyone's voice is heard; he expressed concern that he did not want Indaba groups to be taken over by one member pressing a single agenda; and (2) Indaba groups ought to be seen as an extension of the Bible study groups, and the Indaba groups to spill over into self-select groups, where particular subjects of interest can be pursued further.
He reminded the audience that there is another hearing on Monday afternoon and that that was an opportunity for the "big issues" to be aired. "You are not forbidden to mention sex before Thursday and Covenant before Friday". The Reflection Group (charged with writing the final document on the basis of Indaba and hearing input) will present the results of its writing based on the first week of Indaba input at that hearing.
In response to the anxiety that this process will not produce a substantial document, Rowan commented that he was fully confident that the Reflection Group would produce a "serious substantial document -- not just description but prophetic and clarifying for us". Finally, he urged members to use tomorrow for reading background material prepared for next week's Indaba groups. Rowan's announcement was met with applause.
In short, this announcement indicates that the Lambeth Design Group and Rowan are sticking to their guns and not bowing to pressure (much of it coming from Church of England Evangelical bishops) to terminate the Indaba process and go for the jugular (pardon the mixed metaphor). Such a revision would have meant eliminating next Monday's work on inter-faith concerns (very important to Asian Anglicans), Tuesday's joint clergy-spouse plenary on "Equal in God's Sight: When Power is abused", and Wednesday's Indaba groups on Scripture and hermeneutics. Those unhappy with this decision may well go to the media (one can imagine the headlines) but I think it is right. It is curious how some are happy to bypass other faiths, clergy abuse and Scripture to go straight to making prescriptive pronouncements about sex and how they are to be enforced by the structures of the church, because they know all the answers already. I do not believe that approach is Anglican.
Tomorrow is a day off with various programmes at the cathedral and in the diocese. I shall not write an update tomorrow but be back to you at the end of the day on Monday.
With love to all, Terry
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Day 11, July 28, 2008
On Sunday, many of us went to the main Eucharist at the cathedral at which the Archbishop presided and the Dean preached. The cathedral was packed. In his sermon, the Dean announced that the seven martyred Melanesian Brothers will be honoured at the closing Eucharist at the cathedral next Sunday evening, at which the Archbishop of Melanesia will preside. The Brothers are now being included in the Church of England lectionary. Afterwards, there was a very pleasant barbeque lunch in the precincts. Rather than continuing with the arranged programme which would have gone on all afternoon, I walked over to the former St. Augustine's Missionary College, on whose opening in 1848 I have assisted in some historical work. On the way back to the bus station, walking along the old wall, I came across my most delightful discovery of the day, the Zoar Strict and Particular Baptist Chapel, still in use. I only hope we are not in danger of becoming the Strict and Particular Anglican Communion. In the evening, we continued and finally finished our Church of Melanesia Council of Bishops meeting, in one of the kitchens in the dormitory.
This morning's Eucharist, led by the Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean (Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles, though companion dioceses of Montreal, Florida and Canterbury were also represented around the altar) was preceded by a guitar-bongo drum duet, with the Archbishop of York on the bongo drum. He is a very talented drummer. Bishop Roger Chung Po Chuen (Antsiranana, Madagascar) preached on the bishop as the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-10) even to the point of martyrdom.
In our Bible study group we had a good discussion of the same theme, most bishops having often thought of their own ministries and that of their clergy in such terms. The one Bible study group member who had experience of raising sheep gave us the low down on them. Not good news.
The Indaba group was focussed on "Engaging with a Multi-Faith World -- the Bishop, Christian Witness and other Faiths". Despite many requests to discuss as a full Indaba group, we continued small group work. We initially responded to a DVD of stories from six different Anglican interfaith contexts (England, Sri Lanka, Canada, Sudan, Pakistan and Egypt), sharing our own contexts; and then to a DVD interview with Archdeacon Michael Ipgrove of Southwark diocese about the Trinitarian theology of the Anglican Communion Network for Inter-Faith Concerns (NIFCON) report, Generous Love: the truth of the Gospel and the call to dialogue. Many good suggestions emerged, which will be forwarded to NIFCON.
The first draft of the first part of the "Reflections upon the Lambeth Conference 2008", in point form, based on Indaba group work to date, was also handed out. The only statement that might be doubted: "There seems to be a general acceptance that we shall have a covenant". At the end of the session, there was again a complaint that we were going too slowly on the "issue that has kept others away" but other members and the facilitator defended the process, pointing the complainants to the hearing that would follow after lunch.
After lunch I rushed over to the Marketplace for the launch of Bishop Winston Halapua's new book, Waves of God's Embrace: Sacred Perspectives from the Ocean (Canterbury Press). It is a Pacific theology of the ocean.
There followed the second hearing of the Windsor Continuation Report on its "Preliminary Observations", Part 3. A paper containing these was passed out and immediately discussed (hardly giving one time to think and prepare one's response). The recommendations can be roughly grouped into three: (1) implementation of the three Windsor Report moratoria on "the celebration of blessings for same-sex unions", "consecrations of those living in openly-gay relationships", and "all cross-border interventions and inter-provincial claims of jurisdiction"; (2) a proposal for a Communion-level "Pastoral Forum" "to engage theologically and practically with situations of controversy as they arise or divisive actions that may be taken around the Communion"; and (3) a statement around ministering sensitively to homosexual persons, affirming previous Communion statements on this issue, that "the victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex in anathema to us" (Dromantine Primates' Meeting, 2005) including, if I heard Bishop Virginia Matthews in her presentation correctly (it is not in the text) the decriminalization of homosexuality.
The floodgates then opened in the very hot and muggy room. There were 26 interventions (as opposed to 22 at the last hearing) covering the full range of opinion. The interventions were a bit of an echo of the debate on Resolution 1.10 at 1998 Lambeth, but with speakers having had ten years to think, re-think, consolidate, repeat and/or sharpen their arguments. The vast spread and complexity of opinion in The Episcopal Church (TEC) House of Bishops was certainly apparent -- from abject apology to the rest of the Communion for the damage done by the ordination of Gene Robinson, to robust defence of the role of partnered gay clergy and the blessing of same-sex unions in TEC, and everything in between.
I thought (and, of course, I am prejudiced) that two TEC interventions stood out. Bishop Duncan Gray III (Mississippi), who did not consent to the consecration of Gene Robinson and is well known for his faithfulness to the Windsor Report, complained that he still has interventions by bishops from irregular jurisdictions ("I have reconciled myself to them by regarding them as Methodists") but more importantly, took strong umbrage with those outside TEC [read GAFCON] who regard his TEC episcopal colleagues who disagree with him [on the left] as "bearers of a false Gospel". "Do I see the Church in them? Yes. We believe in one faith, one Lord, one Baptism. We minister together. They show the face of Jesus to me. We are in communion though in profound disagreement". He suggested that the Communion could learn from this experience for its future life together.
Bishop Eugene Sutton, the newly consecrated (black) bishop of Maryland, identifying himself as from an Evangelical tradition, gave a sharp critique of how Scripture was used to subjugate black people and limit their leadership. He noted that all seven black bishops in the continental US in TEC were united that they saw no conflict between upholding Scripture and the inclusion of all God's people in the church. ("Come and talk with us about our experience.") He noted that there were more important moratoria. "Why is there no moratorium on greed?" He also noted that there is selectivity in use of Scripture to make moral judgements -- for example, despite Christ's clear prohibition of divorce, we allow it. "We pick and choose our scapegoats." He was the only speaker I personally congratulated afterwards.
Catherine Roskam, Suffragan Bishop of New York reminded the hearing that the process for developing a policy on homosexuality at the 1998 Lambeth Conference produced a report outlining four viewpoints, which was then amended by members of the plenary out of recognition. She pointed out that the amendment making all homosexual activity a sin was opposed by one-third of the 1998 Lambeth members and that some pushing forward that amendment were not unhappy to see the church split over the issue. The Bishop of Puerto Rico, Bishop David Alvarez-Velazquez, a clinical psychologist, opposed the proposed Pastoral Forum, arguing that it would just cause procrastination and more neurotic behaviour.
There were not very many global south interventions, only Egypt, Sudan and South India. They upheld 1998 Resolution 1.10 and the Windsor process. Interestingly, one of the two Sudanese bishops who spoke ("Let 1.10 stand forever and ever") objected to bringing the whole matter to Lambeth where even discussion of the subject would cause damage to the mission of the church at home. I thought I detected some openness to the local option.
The strongest push "from the right" came from English Evangelical Bishop Michael Scott-Joynt (Winchester), who accused the Windsor Continuation Group of "losing its nerve" in the paper presented today, influenced by the minority who opposed Resolution 1.10, urging them to go back to the harsh critique of TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada presented on the first Sunday. He was supported by Evangelical bishops from England, Ireland and the US.
Canadian criticism concentrated on cross-border episcopal incursions and the disorder they have caused in Canadian dioceses. The Primate of Canada, Fred Hiltz, pointed out that these incursions have brought more havoc in Canada than same-sex blessings, and that the Canadian alternate episcopal oversight scheme (approved by the ACC Panel of Reference) was more than adequate. Bishop Michael Ingham (New Westminster) was more blunt, saying that today's document was a "non-starter", pointing out that the Windsor Report is not doctrine, that today's document is punitive rather than encouraging of mutual understanding, that it imposes impossible uniformity and does not deal with cross-border interventions. The Canadian Primate and Catherine Roskam (TEC) both complained that the Conference did not give adequate time to explain the concerns of their two churches.
The concern I had (and I was surprised that no one raised it) was a statement in today's "Preliminary Observations" that the moratoria are "retrospective". The two sentences read, "Our understanding is that moratorium refers to both future actions and is also retrospective: that is that it requires the cessation of activity. This necessarily applies to practices that may have already been authorized as well as proposed for authorisation in the future." These two sentences are a major can of worms. What precisely does "retrospective" mean? Is it simply overturning canons or resolutions that have already been passed by synods in light of the decision of the Pastoral Forum (presumably adjudicating the Covenant) or is it something more major -- undoing the actions (the same-sex blessings, the consecration of Gene Robinson) that have already been done? I suspect that the latter is simply impossible, despite the Primate of Sudan's demand that Gene resign as bishop of New Hampshire. And how does one undo a blessing given in good faith?
I found the session very wearing, compounded by the heat. I suppose the hearing did accomplish the aim of getting onto the table some of the vast array of opinions on this issue at the Conference. I did not feel like going on to a self-select group so came back to the room and wrote. In the evening, it was my turn for dinner with Rowan and Jane and their staff with some 100 or so others in a private dining room on campus. It was pleasant and I met some people I had been hoping to meet. We went from there directly to the plenary event.
That event was outstanding -- Sir Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, spoke on "Exposition of the Hebrew Scriptures: the relationship between the people and God -- the Covenant". His exposition was passionate and complex, drawing on the distinction made by the mid-twentieth century Russian rabbi, Joseph Soloveitchik, between the "covenant of fate" (that of God with Noah, shared with all humanity) and the "covenant of faith" (that of God with Abraham, establishing a community of faith). The former is the foundation of the latter, allowing us to live together graciously regardless of different faiths (or disagreements within our faith), as we share a common human fate. I cannot summarize his argument with justice but it put to rest the idea that covenant is uniformity. "Covenants are predicated on difference. A covenant brings radically different entities together." He expressed his deepest admiration for the Anglican Communion's ability in the past to hold together different theological strands and hoped that that would continue. He recounted his own primary education in Church of England primary and secondary schools, where he was never subject to anti-Semitic harassment and learned tolerance. The speech was dramatic, passionate, and deeply humanistic -- in the best rabbinical tradition. He was given two standing ovations, one at the end of his speech, one at the end of questions. One hopes that his deep tolerance and espousal of the covenant of fate (shared humanity, requiring us to treat one another with respect, no matter what the disagreements of our faith or faiths) will inform the rest of the conference as it talks about an Anglican Covenant of faith.
Rabbi Sacks redeemed the day.
With love, Terry
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Day 12, July 29, 2008
The Anglican Church of Canada led the Eucharist this morning, with the Primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, presiding, and Bishop Mark MacDonald, National Indigenous Bishop, preaching. Bishop Andrew Atagotaaluk (Arctic) read the Epistle in Inuit after singing a small language chorus. Dr. Alison Barnett-Cowan read the Gospel in French and there were good contemporary Canadian hymns in both French and English.
Bishop Mark, after blessing sweet grass burning in a thurible, began his homily with an Ojibwa invocation and greeting, commenting that Ojibwa language has been used liturgically by Anglicans for 300 years but "it has taken awhile for it to get back to England [laughter] -- indeed, it was planned that it not come back". "Mission strategy for many years was to make Ojibwa language and culture disappear. I'm here to inform you that your mission strategy failed, miserably" [applause]. He then went on to reflect on Christ the Good Shepherd (John 10:11-18) in an Ojibwa context. "Though not many Ojibwa were shepherds" [laughter], Christ as Good Shepherd came to have a deep meaning for indigenous peoples -- "the hidden and invisible hands" of care and love. "Indigenous peoples have seen the trajectory of God's grace before the missionaries came"; the elders spoke and still speak of "fleeting glimpses of the hidden hand". Indeed, the coming back of Ojibwa language to England after 300 years is one such glimpse; and meetings with Maoris; and the apology of the Canadian Prime Minister to indigenous peoples for the tragedy of the residential schools; and the grains of incense offered today (Malachi 1:11). Even indigenous people not affiliated with the church are attracted to Jesus as embodying the suffering and pain of all the centuries, offering great hope, standing to cure despite our sinfulness ("there is no need to romanticize indigenous life"). "We shall rise -- you will be our witnesses." Secure in the Good Shepherd, indigenous peoples will continue to resist (as they have resisted for 500 years) the "kingdom of money", "the idolatry of power, sex and wealth". "First Nations peoples want to know that they can be shaped by a spiritual formation of the Good Shepherd and of the teaching of our elders -- not the kingdoms of money and death". He ended with a promise in an Alaskan indigenous language, translated, "I shall see you again". It was a very moving homily, delivered with friendliness and without rancour, but with great wisdom.
The day's structure was quite different as it was the joint bishops-spouse plenary on "Equal in God's Sight: When Power is abused". Men and women were divided, women occupying one-half of the "big top", men the other half. Jane Williams introduced the event with a theological reflection on violence. "Violence done within the Body of Christ is violence done to the Body of Christ". She pointed out the hypocrisy of preaching Christ crucified but at the same time exercising power in an abusive way; and the many kinds of abuse of power, each with its own excuse. She portrayed rather a bleak view of human nature and human power. (Upon reflection, I think she has borne the abuse heaped upon Rowan from so many quarters, and it shows a bit.) She begged all to engage in the activities of the morning, as a Gospel imperative.
Dr. Jenny Te Pa'a, a member of the Lambeth Bible Study Team (Principal of Te Rau Kahikatea, the Maori college of St. John's College, Auckland) then introduced the programme, explaining that it would focus on only one area of violence, that against women and girls. She then offered a thoughtful analysis of the causes of such violence, citing deeply entrenched traditional beliefs, the unequal status of men and women in many areas, and the belief that women are less capable and trustworthy than men, etc. Gender violence is present in all the societies from which Lambeth participants come.
A small drama troupe then presented a creative drama based on Gospel stories of oppressed women whom Jesus liberated -- the woman taken in adultery, the woman with the flow of blood, the Prodigal Daughter (a creative but powerful innovation), and the paralytic (woman not man) healed on the Sabbath. It was a powerful play.
In groups of three, we then had a Bible study on 2 Samuel 13:1-22, the rape of Tamar by her half-brother, Amnon, led by the Bible Study Team Leader, Dr. Gerald West, a gifted Old Testament scholar from South Africa. This text is frequently used for raising awareness of violence against women but seldom read in church. Against all odds (the large number, perhaps 1,100, squeezed into uncomfortable seats in a cramped hot space without much air), the exercise went well. We went through eight questions, moving from reflection on individual characters in the story to the implications of the story for our relationships and the church. There was report back from both spouses and bishops and some important comments. Some bishops left (perhaps 100) but the vast majority stayed. Some striking comments: "The Anglican Communion is abusive by concentrating on homosexuality rather than on heterosexual males behaving badly"; and (from a Church of North India bishop concerned about the sexual trafficking of children in his diocese) "there are severe issues that need to be addressed by this Lambeth Conference that are more important than the discussion on human sexuality".
The morning ended with a solemn warning from Jenny that bishops are not to be abusers, whether personally or institutionally. The afternoon was set aside for spouses to reconnect after the morning plenary and pastoral care was available for those who needed it.
I used the afternoon to catch up on housekeeping. However, I did have my first encounter with the media. While sitting at the Integrity booth visiting with friends, a German reporter (a woman) asked if she might interview me about the self-select group I am serving as a resource person for tomorrow. I agreed and we had what I thought was a fair interview. After it finished, she asked if she could use my name and title and, of course, I agreed. Then she asked, "May we say you are a homosexual?" I was rather surprised and declined the offer. I then went on to our regular Bible study group, rescheduled from the morning, still on the Good Shepherd.
Evening prayer was led by the Church of the Province of Myanmar, including a choir of bishops and spouses who sung a Burmese hymn. A DVD was shown on the life of the province, but also the effects of Cyclone Nargis and relief efforts conducted by the church. It was grim viewing.
Following Evening Prayer, Rowan gave his second Presidential Address, announced for roughly midway through the Conference. The text is probably already available online but I shall summarize. He indicated that the most important question was not what Lambeth 2008 was going to say, but "where is it going to speak from?" His answer: "My aim is that we speak from the centre -- not understood as the middle point between two extremes -- but from the heart of our identity as Anglicans in and as the Body of Christ. . . . We need to speak to those who are not here from that [Anglican] centre in Jesus Christ". Focus on the centre requires respect for one another and self-discipline. He returned to his earlier theme of "counsel and covenant", indicating that he thought the Communion needed a bit more central structure "to assess grave threats" to the life of the Communion, citing examples beyond sexual ethics. Such a body needed to express "confidence and authority", hence the desirability of a covenantal agreement. Properly understood, a covenant is "an expression of mutual generosity" with each party having an awareness of what "the other group really means and really needs", that is, "intelligent generosity where there are disagreements", based on the common view that "Jesus Christ is the one unique centre".
He then embarked on what he admitted was a "risky and presumptuous exercise", characterizing what each "side" in the current conflict needs to hear and understand about the other in order to work towards reconciliation. In something of a "history of ideas" approach, he sympathetically characterized each side to the other, beginning with the "traditional" side, then going on to the "innovative". He then offered advice to each side about how to regard the other. (For example, to the "innovator", "don't isolate yourself"; to the "traditionalist", let go of a church of "pure and likeminded souls" and "appreciate the pastoral concerns of others".) Both sides need to be "captured by a vision of the true centre, generosity flowing out of the heart of God". "We are called to show this generosity to each other, rather than threatening death to each other." Instead, we need to speak life to each other and this means we all must change. In the end, the recommendation was mutual self-restraint in which both parties generously change and grow in a Covenant towards one another. "We need to speak life to each other. That requires generous initiatives to break through to new transformed relations of communion in Christ."
The above quotations are not exact (though close) but show the general direction of the argument. My first reaction was, "the dialectic rattles on". His portrayal of each "side" was fair enough but there is the question whether one can generalize so broadly about such complex issues and contexts. But better mutual understanding is certainly important. However, it is hard not to conclude that the implications for gay and lesbian people (whether lay, priests or bishops) is not very hopeful -- unless there is some real movement on the other "side", for example, towards a "local option". (In his even-handedness, Rowan did advocate such movement in general terms.) As a friend commented to me, he might have made a bit more use of the insights of Rabbi Sacks last night, that a Covenant might legitimately include a great deal of diversity (though that is Sacks' "covenant of fate" -- an Anglican Covenant must be one of "faith"). As one who personally straddles and experiences both "sides", I am aware that both "sides" are somewhat overdrawn in such a simple dialectic. I wonder if it might be better to use and accentuate relationships where there has already been mutual understanding and cooperation -- but of course such situations are often demonized by one side or another. I continue to struggle with what I actually have to say constructively out of my own experience in this area.
I decided not to go to the "conversation" with the Windsor Continuation Group this evening in order to write. However, I shall attend tomorrow's third hearing. I shall be curious to see if Rabbi Sacks and Rowan's comments have made any difference. Tomorrow's report may be a bit late as I am planning to get away for the evening as I need some recreation.
With love, Terry
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Day 13, July 30, 2008
The morning began with a Eucharist led by Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (the Anglican Church in Hong Kong) with the Primate, Archbishop Paul Kwong presiding and preaching. The daily Bible study was on the raising of Lazarus (John 11: 1-44); and the Archbishop preached on St. Thomas' role as builder of unity and charity in his request to the other disciples, "Let us go also, that we may die with him". We sang two Chinese hymns in a decidedly minor key.
As usual, we had very good discussion in our Bible study group on the above story and our contexts. Similarly in the Indaba group (today's theme was "Living under Scripture: The Bishop and the Bible in mission") we had a good group of five, each of whom presented a Bible passage, its exegesis and preaching outline. We then tried to identify common patterns of Anglican biblical interpretation. I was amazed at the consensus that was reached by the whole Indaba group despite its theological diversity.
The first afternoon session was a hearing on the second draft of the Lambeth Reflections document, proposed as the final statement of the conference. This morning I decided to make an intervention, so worked on it before the Eucharist and presented it early in the hearing . It is pasted below. There were some 25 interventions, some simply fine-turning the document, others trying to beef it up, especially in the areas of social justice, indigenous peoples, the environment and ecumenism. There was a very large panel, comprised of each Indaba group's "Listener" and the drafting committee. The document is getting quite large and beginning to look like a Lambeth Report -- and still no mention of the controversial areas of human sexuality and an Anglican Covenant.
Following the hearing, I was resource person to a self-select group in the Listening Process on "Culture and Christ". Only three bishops, two chaplains, the convenor, another resource person and I showed up. But we had a good conversation.
The real question now is what message ("Lambeth Reflections") will be produced by this Lambeth Conference. The Indaba process could produce a very bulky text that is only a report of discussions. There was quite a lot of unhappiness with Rowan's intervention last night, a feeling that it was weighted too strongly in favour of those not present. (No distinction seems to be made between those not here who would like to be, and those who would prefer separation and schism to being here. I think it is the first group we should especially be reaching out to. There has been a tendency to lump the two together.) Many of those who should have heard Rowan's sympathetic portrayal of the "innovative" position simply are not here to do so. I am told that 70 bishops have left, probably unhappy with the process (probably mostly English and Americans). There is no chance for those who are deeply opposed to the Covenant to have their say. There is, I think, the feeling that the Covenant is inexorably moving along, as there will be no discussion of it until the last day of the Conference. Likewise, the failure of the Indaba groups to function as whole units (rather than breaking into small groups, which always happens) has meant some loss of confidence in the process. And one group Rowan is apparently not consulting is his own primates. He seems to be detached from any political processes. So there is anxiety whether anything of real quality and authority will come of this Lambeth. But the Listeners and drafting committee are a good group, and if some substance of depth can emerge from the Indaba groups on the controversial issues, there is still hope. And they need a good editor.
After evening prayer, I had a pleasant evening at Whitstable eating oysters at a restaurant along the waterfront with the Assistant Bishop of Europe.
This report is short, but here is the text of my intervention at the hearing. With love, Terry
Intervention by Bishop Terry Brown, Bishop of Malaita, Church of the Province of Melanesia, in Hearing on Lambeth Reflections Draft, Lambeth Conference, July 30, 2008
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