Episcopal News Service:
The House of Bishops was informed March 10 that full invitation is "not possible" from the Archbishop of Canterbury to include Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire as a participant in this summer's Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops.
Robinson, addressing the House, urged the other bishops of the Episcopal Church to participate fully in the conference, and thanked all who are willing to "stay at the table." (A link to Robinson's remarks will follow.)
Robinson told the House that he respectfully declined an invitation to be present in the conference's "Marketplace" exhibit section.
Robinson confirmed for ENS that he plans to be in Canterbury during the July 16-August 3 once-a-decade gathering, but not as an official conference participant or observer.
Read it all here.
Report from Bishops Ed Little, Bruce Caldwell and Tom Ely to the House of Bishops regarding conversations about Bishop Gene Robinson's participation at the Lambeth Conference
March 10, 2008
Following the September 2007 meeting of the House of Bishops in New Orleans, the Presiding Bishop appointed Bishops Little, Caldwell and Ely to serve as the team to be in conversation with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion Office to discuss the possibilities of +Gene's participation in the Lambeth Conference. This was in response to the hope expressed in our New Orleans communiqu in which we said that it is "our fervent hope that a way can be found for his (Gene's) full participation." We have tried to be faithful servants of the House of Bishops and to reflect in our own way some measure of the diversity within the House.
Over the past few months the three of us have been negotiating with Mr. Chris Smith from the Archbishop's staff and the Reverend Canon Kenneth Kearon from the Anglican Communion Office hoping to arrive at a substantial invitation for +Gene's participation in the Lambeth Conference. To date we have held five conference calls and have had several internal conversations among the three of us. We have kept the Presiding Bishop and Bishop Robinson informed about our process along the way. Each side of the conversation has participated in good faith throughout.
We began the conversation by sharing several hopes which were developed in consultation with +Gene. Those hopes are:
1. That +Gene have the opportunity to pray with other bishops at Lambeth.
2. That +Gene have time with and access to other bishops from around the Anglican Communion in order to build relationships.
3. That +Gene have a voice at the table regarding the Listening Process and the discussions on human sexuality.
Early on, our colleagues from "across the pond" expressed the understanding that the Archbishop of Canterbury intends to respect the Windsor Report's recommendation with respect to "exercising extreme caution" regarding +Gene's participation in the Councils of the Church. Throughout our conversation they referenced the "optics" involved in all of this, meaning the inter-communion perceptions and perspectives attached to +Gene's participation.
After exploring various categories of participation (i.e. observer, guest, etc.) the three of us felt that the least derogatory, apart from a full invitation, was a consulting role. With that in mind, as well as the hopes earlier expressed, we offered a proposal that included:
1. An invitation to attend the Retreat and worship.
2. An invitation to attend/observe any plenary sessions.
3. An invitation to offer a workshop on several days as one of the self select groups, focused on listening to the voices of gay and lesbian persons.
4. An invitation to participate in some way in the July 31st Indaba groups when the theme is human sexuality.
In response we heard:
1. A restatement that full invitation is not possible.
2. The Retreat session is a closed session at Canterbury Cathedral (i.e. no media, no ecumenical guests) and it would present the Archbishop of Canterbury with a problem for +Gene to attend something so intimate. The same would be true of the Bible Study/Indaba groups.
3. There is really no concept of "observer" built into the conference structure.
The following proposal for limited participation was then offered and we agreed to bring this to +Gene:
1. That if +Gene still wishes to be present throughout the conference that the location best suited for that is the Marketplace where he could be hosted by one of the groups.
2. That +Gene participate in a "high profile" event (yet to be determined) on July 31st (Listening Process day) - something like an interview with a major media interviewer from England.
After consultation with +Gene he respectfully declined the offer, believing that it does not rise to the level of a meaningful and substantial invitation. In declining this invitation +Gene was clear that he is available to serve as a resource to the Lambeth Conference and plans to be available to any variety of groups who are interested in pursuing conversations that would include him. In a moment +Gene will speak more about this and his own thoughts about the nature of his presence in England during the Lambeth Conference.
With this report, we think our assignment is complete and we are grateful for the confidence expressed in us by the Presiding Bishop, Bishop Robinson and the members of the House of Bishops, who we know have been holding us and our conversations in your thoughts and prayers. We hope we have served the House faithfully in this matter and request now to be discharged.
Ed, Bruce and Tom