Bates: Williams escapes

Stephen Bates writes in The Guardian overnight of his impressions of the scene in New Orleans. He describes the surreal aspects of the Archbishop Williams' visit to the city, his admiration of our church's involvement in the rebuilding efforts and contrasts that with the specter of the breaking apart of the same church.

Toward the end of the article he writes of the events and the atmosphere surrounding the end of the Archbishop's time with the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops:

"In the hotel's echoing marble halls, patrolled by security guards yesterday to prevent the media from getting too close, there was an atmosphere of plotting and rumour. Ever since the church elected the openly gay bishop Gene Robinson four years ago divisions between liberals and conservatives have grown poisonous and the abuse vicious, particularly from the conservatives.

There were rumours yesterday that the small conservative faction - who openly want to split the US church and hope to be recognised as Anglicanism's rightful representatives in the US - would walk out as soon as Dr Williams left. Their bishops are not even staying in the same hotel.

Eight more moderate conservative bishops who were put forward to act as episcopal visitors for parishes who no longer want to recognise the church's liberal leadership were immediately, quaintly, denounced on blog sites as traitors, quislings and vichy-ites

No wonder Dr Williams wanted to get away. His spirits seemed lifted only during an evening service at which a jazz band led the congregation in a traditional procession, the sort where musicians lead funeral mourners. As Dr Williams swayed and clapped self-consciously, no one questioned whether the funeral might be that of the world's third largest Christian denomination."

Read all of the article here.

Separately, Bates announced

This week’s meeting between Rowan Williams and the American bishops will be my swan-song as a religious affairs correspondent, after eight years covering the subject for The Guardian. I’d have been less keen to attend had the venue been Detroit, but where better to end it? It is time to move on for me professionally, and probably for Anglicans too and this marks a suitable place to stop. There is also no doubting, personally, that writing this story has been too corrosive of what faith I had left: indeed watching the way the gay row has played out in the Anglican Communion has cost me my belief in the essential benignity of too many Christians.For the good of my soul, I need to do something else.

Read it all here.

Comments (1)

Think of it! Unbeknownst to me, I was, perhaps, there for the funeral - a jazz funeral, no less. And the patient was still in her death throes and not quite dead.

It could be that the rumors of her death are premature. She might yet rally and surprise us all.

How potent symbols sometimes are!

June Butler

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