The newest items are last and the oldest first. Scroll down to read the latest news and commentary.
The newest items are last and the oldest first. Scroll down to read the latest news and commentary.
Lambeth Conference Daily Themes
Monday 21 July: Celebrating Common Ground: the bishop and Anglican identity
Tuesday 22 July: Proclaiming the Good News: the bishop and evangelism
Wednesday 23 July: Transforming Society: the bishop and social injustice
Thursday 24 July: The bishops and their spouses are in London
Friday 25 July: Discerning our Shared Calling: the bishop, other churches and God’s mission
Saturday 26 July: Safeguarding Creation: the bishop and the environment
Sunday 27 July: Hospitality in local parishes or at the Cathedral
Monday 28 July: Engaging with a multi faith world: the bishop, other religions and Christian witness
Tuesday 29 July: Equality in God’s sight: when power is abused (jointly with the spouses)
Wednesday 30 July: Living under Scripture: the bishop and the Bible in Mission
Thursday 31 July: Listening to God and each other: the bishop and human sexuality
Friday 1 August & Saturday 2 August: Fostering our common life: the bishop, the Covenant and the Windsor Process.
A typical ‘working’ day at the Lambeth Conference will look like this:
Bible Study groups of 8 (Indaba groups)
Extended Indaba groups of 48 – including midday prayers
Self Select Sessions
Free time (fringe events)
The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that almost all church leaders in Australia are opposed to Bishop Peter Jensen's boycott of the Lambeth Conference.
The Anglican Primate of Australia, Phillip Aspinall, said yesterday that it was difficult to understand the decision by the Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, to boycott this year's Lambeth Conference, as virtually all Australian bishops declined to support Dr Jensen.
The Bishop of Armidale, Peter Brain, whose diocese has been traditionally allied to Sydney, said he did not think boycotting Lambeth would help
Read the article here.
According to the ENS, five primates have now announced that they will boycott Lambeth in protest to the inclusion of the bishops the Episcopal Church amongst the assembled. Today Archbishop Nzimbi of Kenya joined four others who had previously indicated their concerns.
From the ENS article written by Matthew Davies:
"Archbishops Peter Akinola of Nigeria, Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda, Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya, Henry Orombi of Uganda, and Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone -- who make up five of the 38 Anglican Primates -- told the 21 English bishops that they would not attend Lambeth in protest to the invitations extended by the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Episcopal Church's bishops. Akinola, Kolini and Orombi had all previously announced that they intended to boycott the conference.
Neva Rae Fox, the Episcopal Church's public affairs officer, noted that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is saddened by the primates' decision not to attend Lambeth.
'The gathering will be diminished by their absence, and I imagine that they themselves will miss a gift they might have otherwise received,' the Presiding Bishop said. 'None of us is called to 'feel at home' except in the full and immediate presence of God. It is our searching, especially with those we find most 'other,' that is likely to lead us into the fuller experience of the body of Christ. Fear of the other is an invitation to seek the face of God, not a threat to be avoided.'
The five primates acknowledged in their letter that some of them 'have not been able to take communion with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church since February 2005' because of the 2003 consecration of Robinson, an openly gay partnered man, as bishop of New Hampshire. 'The consecrators of Gene Robinson have all been invited to Lambeth, contrary to the statement of the Windsor Report (para 134) that members of the Episcopal Church should 'consider in all conscience whether they should withdraw themselves from representative functions in the Anglican Communion,'' the primates said."
Read the rest here.
Tobias Haller has some thoughts about the situation here.
At the request of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Professor Gerald West (University KwaZulu-Natal, Southern Africa) has convened an international group to prepare Bible studies for the Lambeth Conference. Members of the group came from DR Congo, USA, UK, Tanzania, and India.
Bishops and spouses will pursue the same studies, though in their own separate groups at the July Lambeth Conference. The focus is on the ‘I am’ sayings of Jesus in John’s gospel.
UPDATED noon March 11.
Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire responded to the Archbishop of Canterbury's decision not to invite him to the Lambeth Conference Monday at the House of Bishops meeting.
The story was reported in the previous article in The Lead:
I first want to thank Ed and Bruce and Tom. [Bishops Little, Caldwell and Ely, respectively, who corresponded with the Archbishop of Canterbury's staff regarding Robinson's participation.] They have been so true to what they were asked to do by the Presiding Bishop. They have been in close communication with me. I have felt very supported by them. They have represented me extremely well.
I want to be clear than I am not here to whine. I learned of the result of this negotiation on Friday evening. I have been in considerable pain every since.
But I want to acknowledge that I am not the first or last person to be in pain at a House of Bishops meeting.
My own pain was sufficient enough that for 36 hours I felt the compelling urge to run, to flee. My inspiration for staying came from my conservative brothers in this house. I have seen John Howe and Ed Salmon and others show up for years when there was a lot of pain for them. I see Bill Love and Mark Lawrence, and I know it is a very difficult thing for them to be here right now. For me, the worst sin is leaving the table. And that is what I was on the verge of doing. But, largely because of you, I stayed. Thank you for that.
I want to tell you why I declined the invitation as it was proposed. I really had high hopes that something might work out. I have been talking with the Anglican Communion Office for almost a year now. I got my first phone call four days before the invitations to Lambeth went out. I thought something would work out.
The offer to be hosted at the Marketplace is a non-offer. That is already available to me. One workshop on one afternoon and being interviewed by the secular press was not anything I was seeking. I wasn't going to Lambeth to have another interview with the secular press. If interviewed at all, I want to talk with a theologian. I want to talk about the love of Christ. I want to talk about the God who saved me and redeemed me and continues to live in my life. I want to talk about the Jesus I know in my life.
But my mind boggles at the misperception that this is just about gay rights. It might be in another context, but in this context it is about God's love of all of God's children. It's a theological discussion, it's not a media show. I have been most disappointed in that my desire was to participate in Bible study and small groups, and that is not being offered. It makes me wonder: if we can't sit around a table and study the Bible together, what kind of communion do we have and what are we trying to save?
I am dismayed and sickhearted that we can't sit around a table, as brothers and sisters in Christ, and study scripture together.
It has been a very difficult 48 hours sitting here and hearing your plans for Lambeth.
In my most difficult moments, it feels as if, instead of leaving the 99 sheep in search of the one, my chief pastor and shepherd, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has cut me out of the herd.
I ask two things of you. Some of you have indicated that if I am not invited, you won't go either. I want to say loud and clear - you must go. You must find your voice. And somehow you have to find my voice and the voices of all the gay and lesbian people in your diocese who, for now, don't have a voice in this setting. I'd much rather be talked to than talked about. But you must go and tell the stories of your people, faithful members of your flock who happen to be lesbian and gay.
For God's sake, don't stay away.
And second, please don't let them separate me from you. Please don't let that happen. It will be difficult, and we will have to be intentional. I know that the last thing you will need at the end of the day is another meeting just so I can catch up with you. But I hope you will be willing to stay in touch with me.
From the day I have walked into this House I have been treated with respect and welcome, even, and perhaps especially, by those of you who voted no on my consent.
I can never thank you enough for that. I will always and every moment treasure your welcome and your hospitality.
Don't let them cut me off from you.
All this is really sad for me and for my diocese. I won't have the experiences you will have, to share with them. But I will be there in the marketplace, willing to talk with anyone who wants to talk, especially with those who disagree with me. If you know me at all, you know that that's true.
Now, my focus has to change. Maybe this is what God has in mind. I had hoped to focus on the community of bishops at Lambeth, making my own contribution to its deliberations. But now, I think I will go to Lambeth thinking about gay and lesbian people around the world who will be watching what happens there. I will go to Lambeth remembering the 100 or so twenty-something's I met in Hong Kong this fall, who meet every Sunday afternoon to worship and sing God's praise in a secret catacomb of safety - because they can't be gay AND Christian in their own churches. I will be taking them to Lambeth with me. They told me that the Episcopal Church was their hope for a different, welcoming church. They told me they were counting on us. Yes, the things we do in the Episcopal Church have ramifications far, far away - and sometimes those ramifications are good.
I hope we can talk about the ways we can stay in touch in Lambeth. I will be praying for you, all the time. I know it will seem very strange, being separated from you. But we can do it if we want to. I have nothing but respect and sympathy for the Archbishop of Canterbury and the difficult place he is in. I was trying to help him, and it just didn't work.
Pray for me. I will need that. A lot.
UPDATE noon Monday: AP is reporting the story here.
The LA Times' story is here.
Dave Walker of The Cartoon Church comments in the Church Times here.
With the announcement that Bishop Gene Robinson will not be invited to Lambeth 2008, suggestions for buttons for bishops who are invited are being discussed on the blogs.
A sample is available at CafePress.
The Anglican Church of Canada reports on one of the many networks that make up the Anglican Communion. The International Anglican Women's Network was formed in November 1996 following a consultation convened by the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) and funded by the Mothers' Union and the United Thank Offering of the Episcopal Church Women of the Episcopal Church of the United States. Women from 14 of the (then) 32 Provinces of the Anglican Communion met in London and agreed that an international Anglican Women's Network be formed. Its mandate was to report the work of women, and the challenges that women face, to the ACC. IAWN will offer the presence of women at the Lambeth Conference:
Domestic violence, women in leadership, and women's access to technology-these are a few of the issues that the International Anglican Women's Network (IAWN) would like to discuss with bishops and their spouses at the Lambeth Conference, the meeting of all Anglican bishops in July 2008.
"If the bishop and his or her spouse catch the vision of empowering women, great things can happen," said Canon Alice Medcof, a Canadian member of the IAWN steering group.
IAWN has booked two stalls and three fringe events at Lambeth. At the stalls they will distribute literature and chat with bishops and their spouses. "We are offering all people at Lambeth the opportunity to say what they think are the most important problems facing women," said Canon Medcof.
IAWN is an official network of the Anglican Communion and aims to be the global voice of Anglican women by reporting their work and concerns to the Anglican Consultative Council. The international IAWN steering committee keeps informed through provincial links...
Read more here.
For information on the International Anglican Women's Network click here.
Questions are being raised about the timing of Bishop Gene Robinson's scheduled civil union ceremony this coming June. There are voices that feel that Bishop Robinson intentionally timed the event so as to overshadow the Lambeth Conference that will be held later this summer. Bishop Robinson denies that intention.
The New York Times' Laurie Goodstein reports today:
"He planned his civil union for June, he said, because he wanted to provide some legal protection to his partner and his children before he left for England for the conference. Bishop Robinson has received death threats, and he wore a bulletproof vest under his vestments at his consecration in 2003.
‘We could have, I suppose, just gone to the town clerk and had that signed,’ he said, ‘but, you know, I’m a religious person, and every major event in my life has been marked with some kind of liturgy and giving thanks to God.’
Bishop Robinson will not be attending the Lambeth Conference’s official sessions with his more than 800 fellow bishops. He was excluded from participating by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who, as leader of the Church of England, is responsible for issuing the invitations."
"Bishop Robinson initially rejected, but has now accepted, the idea that he will spend the conference days in the Marketplace, an adjunct bazaar where church advocacy groups and purveyors of Christian merchandise promote their causes and wares."
is not quite accurate. According to our source, Bishop Robinson rejected Lambeth's offer of a stall in the marketplace and one major press interview as the form of his "invitation" to attend Lambeth. He doesn't reject appearing and being available in the marketplace to meet with people, it's the characterization of that access in the public arena as a form of "invitation" that is not acceptable to him.
Read the rest here.
Dave Walker will be the cartoonist-in-residence at the Lambeth Conference, July 16 to August 3, in Canterbury.
The Anglican Journal writes:
For the first time since Anglican bishops worldwide began meeting every 10 years (beginning in 1867), this year’s conference, scheduled July 16 to Aug. 3 in Canterbury, England, will have a cartoonist-in-residence....
For the first time since Anglican bishops worldwide began meeting every 10 years (beginning in 1867), this year’s conference, scheduled July 16 to Aug. 3 in Canterbury, England, will have a cartoonist-in-residence.
Mr. Walker, whose series on the publication of the Windsor Report, www.wibsite.com/features/windsorreport, was a huge hit across the Anglican Communion, said he is delighted by the prospect of having a visible presence at the conference.
“It is certainly a rather daunting prospect, but I’ll be okay. A planned new easel will be a help,” wrote Mr. Walker on his blog, www.cartoonchurch.com, in his typical wry manner.
Mr. Walker said his role would be to draw events at the conference as they develop; his drawings will be displayed by various means, including the Internet.
Read: The Anglican Journal: Cartoonist’s role at meeting of bishops a bit sketchy
See Cartoon Church.
Interview with Dave Walker here.
Giles Fraser has invited Gene Robinson, the Bishop of New Hampshire to preach this summer during the Lambeth Conference (to which +Gene is not invited.) Recently the Archbishop of Canterbury has made it clear that while he does not have the power to ban Bishop Robinson from English pulpits, he would much prefer that Gene not preach in his country.
Giles has written a column challenging the Archbishop's actions by reminding us all that this is not the first time that such bans have been issued. Maude Royden, a popular woman speaker was banned from speaking from the pulpits of England in the early 20th century because of her gender. An English priest defied the ban.
From Giles' column:
"The Rector was defiant. He closed the church — putting up the notice of prohibition — and invited the worshippers to gather in the parish hall instead. Nine hundred people tried to get in. A petition was organised and sent to the Bishop: ‘When an evangelist so plainly called by God is harassed and impeded by those who should be her chiefest upholders and strengtheners, we feel the time for silent acquiescence is past.’
Conservative voices complained at the presence of ‘ecclesiastical Bolshevists’, and that a woman giving a sermon to men was radical feminism gone mad.
Giles points out the connections between then and now:
The contemporary parallels are depressing. I have invited the Bishop of New Hampshire, the Rt Revd Gene Robinson, to preach at St Mary’s, Putney. There are no legal impedi-ments to this. But the powers that be want this to happen ‘after the service’ or ‘in the church hall’. Apparently, a few bars on the organ, or the gap between the church and the church hall are sufficient prophylactics to protect the sanctuary from the profanity of being a woman or being gay. What sort of crazy theology is that?"
Read his full essay here.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has written to the bishops of the Anglican Communion in a letter just posted to his web site. The letter describes in more detail what his hopes are for this summer's Lambeth Conference and it lays out his desire that all the bishops who attend are willing in good conscience to participate in the Windsor Process.
From the specific section on the process, William's writes:
"As I noted when I wrote to you in Advent, this makes it all the more essential that those who come to Lambeth will arrive genuinely willing to engage fully in that growth towards closer unity that the Windsor Report and the Covenant Process envisage. We hope that people will not come so wedded to their own agenda and their local priorities that they cannot listen to those from other cultural backgrounds. As you may have gathered, in circumstances where there has been divisive or controversial action, I have been discussing privately with some bishops the need to be wholeheartedly part of a shared vision and process in our time together.
Of course, as baptised Christians and pastors of Christ's flock, we are not just seeking some low-level consensus, or a simple agreement to disagree politely. We are asking for the fire of the Spirit to come upon us and deepen our sense that we are answerable to and for each other and answerable to God for the faithful proclamation of his grace uniquely offered in Jesus. That deepening may be painful in all kinds of ways. The Spirit does not show us a way to by-pass the Cross. But only in this way shall we truly appear in the world as Christ's Body as a sign of God's Kingdom which challenges a world scarred by poverty, violence and injustice."
Read the full article here.
The Times Online, UK, reports here.
The Pluralist comments here.
Susan Russell, President of Integrity, comments here.
There will be a British premiere of the documentary For the Bible Tells Me So, on Monday evening, July 14, at Queen Elizabeth Hall, at the SouthBank Centre for the Arts, in Central London, on the Thames. In addition to the filmmaker, Daniel Karslake, speakers will include Sir Ian McKellen and Bishop Gene Robinson. The evening will be a celebration of the lives and ministries of gay and lesbian people, on the eve of the Lambeth Conference of Bishops in Canterbury. Some of the proceeds will go toward AIDS work in Africa.
Robinson's story is one of several told in the film, which chronicles the lives of Christian parents coming to terms with the realization that one of their children is gay.
Ruth Gledhill is on the story as well.
With two months to go until the start of the Lambeth Conference, the Church Times says that registrations are still rolling in.
On Wednesday, numbers stood at 620 of the possible 880 bishops in the Anglican Communion. Officials calculate that about ten per cent of sees are vacant. Nigeria has said that none of its 141 bishops will attend; nor will Uganda’s 31 bishops. This leaves fewer than 20 bishops unaccounted for.
The 15 bishops of the province of West Africa have come out in support of the Communion. In a statement posted on 2 May, the province said that it abhorred the acceptance and blessing of same-sex marriages and the ordination of open homosexuals and lesbians. But it also urged all members of the Communion to uphold it and its “instruments of unity”, one of which is the Lambeth Conference.
It appears that the only provinces that are staying away are the ones who have close relationships with leaders of the Anglican right from the United States such as Stephen Noll (Uganda) and Martyn Minns (Nigeria).
Archbishop Williams has cautioned Bishops about coming to the Conference with deep-seated assumptions about outcomes or agendas.
Dr Williams spoke out this week against any bishop who thought he or she could attend Lambeth while nursing split loyalties. In an open letter to all bishops to mark the feast of Pentecost, Dr Williams said that he had been in private discussions with some bishops to warn them of the need for unity.
"In circumstances where there has been divisive or controversial action, I have been discussing privately with some bishops the need to be wholeheartedly part of a shared vision and process in our time together," he wrote.
It was "essential" that the bishops who came to the Conference were genuinely willing to move towards unity as envisaged by the Windsor report and the Covenant process, he said.
Read the rest here.
The Episcopal Church Center sponsored a press conference today on the Lambeth Conference featuring the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, and the Rev. Dr. Ian Douglas, professor at Episcopal Divinity School and a member of the Conference's design group.
Jefferts Schori and Douglas emphasized the conversational aspect of this Lambeth Conference as differing from the 1998 meeting which was more parliamentary with resolutions. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Design Group have put together multiple encounters between those from very different cultural contexts to pray, worship, and talk about issues that both unite and divide the Anglican Communion. There will be times of closed sessions and others of a more open nature.
According Douglas, the lack of invitation for Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire and the bishops of irregular dioceses is rooted in the Windsor Report. Archbishop Williams' decisions were based in the report. In addition others were not invited such as Nolbert Kunonga of Zimbabwe, who is allied with brutal dictator Mugabe. However, it was acknowledged by the Presiding Bishop that when we avoid people who make us uncomfortable it ceases to be an incarnate conversation. The loss of one diminishes all. She reminded all that it is also not up to just one person to represent the story of The Episcopal Church and human sexuality.
In response to a question by a Diocesan Communicator, Maria Plati of Massachusetts, and the relevance of the Lambeth Conference, Bishop Jefferts Schori remarked that it was an important global conversation of one part of the body. It is a time for listening to one another and that there would be no final decisions made without consultation with other members of the churches.
In response to questions about the GAFCON conference in Jerusalem, the Presiding Bishop announced that Bishop O'Neil of Colorado will be with Bishop Dawani of the Diocese of Jerusalem to lend him support during that time. Jefferts Schori commented that all conversations can be helpful and GAFCON is no threat to the Lambeth Conference although Bishop Dawani has said that introducing conflict into already conflicted part of the world is not welcome.
Listen to the webcast here.
The schedule of events during the Lambeth Conference and other information is here.
UPDATE: 11:30 p.m. EDT - The Pluralist has extensive reporting and comments here.
Andrew Gerns, a member of the news-team here at the Lead, is thinking that he sees evidence that there's a plan unfolding for this summer's Lambeth conference. But he's thinking it's not going to be business as usual, since doing things the "normal" way is what has gotten us to the loggerheads we're at today.
"Since 2003, the Anglican Communion, and all the Instruments of Unity together and separately have shown us that we cannot legislate our way out of this, and that diplomatic solutions are at best provisional. The Windsor Report is a disaster precisely because it attempts to solve a problem structurally that is at heart a theological problem. But it did not spring out of nowhere.
Progressives have tended to go about solving problems by way of organizing and creating legislative and judicial solutions to theological and moral problems. And, in my view, the reasserters have gone wrong because they have attempted to impose a competing, conciliar (structural and political) solution to solve what they fundamentally see as a theological problem.
In other words, we have a legitimate series of problems and impasses, that need to be addressed concretely. But instead of building on what we do best as a Communion, and in the Episcopal Church, we have tended to focus on fixing specific symptoms through the use of interest group politics. That is building solutions based on our weakness."
Andrew suggests that by way of response, the design team has decided to intentionally incoporate the principles of Appreciative Inquiry into the proceedings of the conference.
He makes a convincing argument. He lays out the principles of AI and then observes:
If the gathered Bishops can build on the positive core, what binds us and draws us together as Anglican Christians; if they can use the stage that Williams and the design team have set for them and allow themselves to appreciate what we have, imagine what we might become, and proclaim what we should be, and then go home and help the rest of us do what must be done, then perhaps, perhaps, this conference next month could be quite revolutionary.
Read his full thinking here.
Episcopal News Service reports Province I President Marge Burke has announced two initiatives for prayer and dialogue during this summer's Lambeth Conference of bishops, meeting July 16-August 3 in Canterbury, England. Province I is made up of Episcopal dioceses in the Northeast of the United States.
One initiative is for Province I bishops to hold two gatherings during the Lambeth Conference to introduce New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson to other bishops from around the Anglican Communion and to create a forum for dialogue. These receptions are for bishops only and will not be open to the public.
The other activity will be:
a prayer vigil ... to support the 12 bishops in the province's seven dioceses (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Western Massachusetts and Vermont) while they are at the once-a-decade gathering.
"I feel it is very important that our bishops know their sisters and brothers back home are offering themselves to God through prayer, on their behalf," Burke said.
The Rt. Rev. Barbara Harris, retired bishop suffragan of Massachusetts, wrote the prayers, which are available on the Province I website. The prayers are appropriate for use by congregations as well as individuals. Burke said she hopes the prayer will be used in all congregations in the province on the Sundays during Lambeth, and at weekday services, Bible study and prayer groups. Two specific times are suggested to pray each day: 7 a.m. Eastern (12 noon in England) and noon Eastern (5 p.m. in England).
A reminder to check out the essays on the Covenant on Daily Episcopalian this week here.
Over this past week, we've been running articles written by different deputies to this coming General Convention about the proposed Anglican Covenant that is to be part of the discussion at the coming Lambeth Conference and, most likely, the next General Convention.
There's one additional essay to run next Monday, but central essays are now completed and posted.
You can read the official text of the Covenant here.
The "official" Episcopal Church study guide to the Covenant is here.
With those in hand you're ready for
You might also want to check out the resources from the conference held earlier this year at the Desmond Tutu Center.
Somehow this news escaped our notice last week:
Lambeth Conference Blog
Six weeks to go!
Posted On : June 5, 2008 9:51 AM | Posted By : Anna
Related Categories: General
Sadly, other demands have taken over and I'm unable to keep the blog updated. This will be the final entry!
With just a few weeks to go and registrations still coming in, we are constantly at work allocating bedrooms, putting bible study groups together, finalising the content of the conference programme and thinking about last minute communciations and logistics.
It is all very busy. We are delighted people are still registering but the conference is nearly full now. Bedrooms have almost run out! If you still want to come along but haven't yet told us please register within the next few days.
Looking forward to meeting you all in Canterbury very soon!
IntegrityUSA announces a "one-stop" online gateway for news and other information related to the witness of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Anglicans in Canterbury, England, this summer.
On the portal you will find
Official Conference Information
Anglican & Other Christian LGBT Organizations Present At Lambeth
LGBT & Allied Blogs Covering Lambeth
LGBT Events Before & During Lambeth
Documentaries Being Shown During Lambeth
Books Being Discussed During Lambeth
LGBT Stalls At Lambeth Marketplace
More content will be posted before and during the conference.
Read more here.
The Rt. Rev. Kirk Smith, bishop of the Diocese of Arizona will be reporting from the Lambeth Conference via his new blog Lambeth Daily.
According to his welcome message:
Bishop Smith and Laura will be traveling to the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury England from July 10 to August 4, 2008. This blog has been created to communicate with the folks back home in the Diocese of Arizona about what is happening day to day at the Conference.
Check each evening starting in July for a daily update as well as pictures and videos!
The blog will become more active once Bishop Smith goes to England. In the meantime he is posting some background information.
Read it here.
Other bishops' blogs may also have comments and insights into their lives at Lambeth.
Christopher Epting, Episcopal Church Ecumenical Officer.
Charles Jenkins, Louisiana.
George Councell, New Jersey.
Mike Hill, Bishop of Bristol.
Robert Duncan, Pittsburgh
Dorsey Henderson, Upper South Carolina.
Marc Andrus, California.
David Chillingworth, Bishop of St. Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunbane.
George Packard, Suffragan for Chaplaincies.
Peter J. Lee, Virginia.
James Stanton, Dallas.
Province of Brazil
Larry Benfield, Arkansas
Andrew Doyle, Texas.
Carol Gallagher, assisting in North Dakota.
Pierre Whalon, Episcopal Churches in Europe.
If your bishop has a blog - add it in the comments.
Julia Duin of The Washington Times considers the secrecy surrounding the current GAFCON gathering in Jerusalem, the news-free dreams that leaders of the Anglican Communion harbor for the upcoming Lambeth Conference and wonders why everything is so...quiet.
Of GAFCON she writes:
The purpose of this conference is a tad foggy. One of their leaders relayed in an e-mail that they aim to "prepare for an Anglican future in which the Gospel is uncompromised and Christ-centered mission is a top priority."
GAFCON, then, is the first salvo in a campaign to create a newer, purer Anglican Communion by getting like-minded Anglicans all in one place. There is not enough support among conservatives at this time for a full break from the archbishop of Canterbury, whose position carries much weight around the world.
That support might exist in 10 years, especially if the Church of England, Anglicanism's British branch, becomes completely compromised concerning Islam and sexual morality issues.
So GAFCON and the aborted pre-GAFCON meeting in Jordan are setting the stage for an eventual split.
Maybe, or maybe the GAFCON folks have lost ground within the Communion in the brief time since Archbishop Rowan Williams called Peter Akinola's bluff, and the movement is fighting for survival, not planning its glorious future.
Earlier this week, Archbishop Rowan Williams addressed the Diocese of Hereford and got a standing ovation when he said the issues presently facing the church were serious ones, but would not split the Church of England.
According to the Hereford Times:
Speaking at the Diocese’s conference in Swanwick, Derbyshire, [Archbishop Rowan Williams] claimed differences over sexuality could be resolved and denied a rift in the church.
He said next month’s Lambeth Conference – a global meeting of Anglican bishops held every 10 years – could prove a turning point.
“My hope is that the conference will be a real trust building event,” said the Archbishop.
“The challenge is whether we manage those issues in such a way that they don’t just split us apart and isolate us from one another.
“I think that we face some very serious choices within the church but I don’t think the Church of England is on the edge of schism.”
Read it here:
A special series of Bible studies that mirror the studies that the Bishops will be doing at Lambeth are now on the web. The Anglican Communion News service announces:
The faithful around the Communion have a unique opportunity for Bible Study with their Bishops during the Lambeth Conference as the series ‘Signs on the Way’ makes its debut on the Lambeth Conference website.
This special series - focusing on St John’s Gospel - complements the Bible studies in which the bishops and their spouses will take part during the Lambeth Conference 2008.
We hope that people throughout the Anglican Communion will use this series as a way of being present in spirit at the Lambeth Conference, supporting their bishops before, during and after this important gathering.
The studies are structured so that they can be used either by groups or by individuals. They can form the basis of personal devotions, a church study group or perhaps a diocesan meeting.
From the Introduction:
The Bible studies we offer to you are produced by the same international team of people who were also responsible for the Bible studies at the Lambeth Conference. In the Bible studies written for the bishops and their spouses the focus is on the ‘I am’ sayings in the Gospel of John. These present studies, however, focus on the ‘signs’ carried out by Jesus in the Gospel of John. The signs take us to the heart of Jesus’ ministry and mission – indeed John 20:30–31
suggests that it is through such signs that we come to discover that ‘Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing …have life in his name.’
The files, in two formats can be found here.
The third issue of Anglican World News and Notes consists of a briefing on the upcoming Lambeth Conference.
After the fiasco of GAFCON, will these words from Archbishop Rowan Williams receive a second hearing? “To those bishops who don’t wish to attend, I recognise their absolute right to choose in good faith and in conscience whether or not they can be there. The invitation’s on the table; naturally I shall be delighted to see more rather than fewer bishops there, that’s their choice - but the door is open.”
Kenyan Anglican clergy, gays and allies are sending a strong message of affirmation and inclusiveness to the bishops at the forthcoming Lambeth conference in July-August, 2008 according to a Press Release from Other Sheep. A video is being produced of personal stories of gay and lesbian Kenyan Christians.
The Rev. Cynthia Black and Katie Sherrod from Integrity USA carried out the personal interview of the participants using video recording. The objective of this program was to take the voices and faces of gays, lesbians and allies to the Lambeth conference for the Anglican bishops to see and hear from the horse's own mouth.
Rev. Michael Kimindu, an Anglican priest and Other Sheep East Africa Coordinator said that it is hard for young people to discover that they are gay in Kenya. They come to fear God and hate themselves. And society and religious condemnation causes young gay people to live in isolation, depression and subsequently commit suicide in schools, colleges and homes.
"Religious teachings are against homosexuality, and for us allies we are looked at as people promoting a gay movement in Africa," said Kimindu. You cannot discourage or promote what you cannot change. It is not a choice, it is inborn.
His message to the bishops was that they should be bishops and not judges. They should appreciate the diversity of God's gifts in relation to the clergy and laity in the church without being dictators. The bishops should commission well educated people to conduct a research on homosexuality. The findings can help remove grey hairs in their approach.
Kimindu said that the church in Kenya has lesbians, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons who have questions and are seeking answers. They are living in the closet due to fear of stigma and condemnation propagated by religious homophobia.
He said the bishops should stop thinking that homosexuality is unAfrican. The truth of the matter is homosexuality is part of human history and since civilization started in Africa, therefore homosexuality started from Africa. We should not blame the West for introducing homosexuality.
Katie Sherrod says, "Please pray for me as I madly edit all the HOURS and HOURS of
interviews into a manageable size to show to the bishops at Lambeth. And pray that we can raise enough money to send a copy to every Anglican bishop. Most of all, pray that I can do justice to the stories of these sweet, gentle, brave people.
Voices of Witness: Africa, featuring GLBT persons throughout Africa, on the 23rd of July at 8pm as part of the official fringe events. In the Fall it will be distributed to all the Bishops in the Communion according to Cynthia Black.
To donate to Voices of Witness: Africa click here.
Black reports on another offering for Lambeth from Kalamazoo, MI. Seven Passages, a play developed and performed by students at Western Michigan University. It features seven actors portraying stories of 100 gay or lesbian persons living in Michigan. The "Seven" in the title refer to the seven verses of the Bible used to exclude and marginalize gays and lesbians.
Watch the TV report here.
More of the Other Sheep Press Release below:
According to conference planners, more than 650 bishops have registered for the Lambeth Conference. That's slightly more than three-quarters of the invitees. A small number of sees are vacant, and some bishops have scheduling conflicts or simply cannot attend. It is difficult to learn which absentees are part of the Nigerian-led boycott, and which simply aren't coming, but the boycott may account for some 20 percent of potential attendees.
The leaders of GAFCON claimed that some 280 bishops attended their gathering in Jerusalem, but in a telephone press conference on Monday, Bishop Martyn Minns was unable to say how many of that number were diocesan bishops currently in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. If the figure included signficant numbers of retired bishops, assisting bishops and bishops of groups that have never been part of the Anglican Communion, it is highly misleading. Daniel Burke of Religion News Service was the only member of the media who thought to question it, and it was his question that elicited Minns' response.
According to a recent paper by the Rev. Gregory Cameron, deputy secretary general of the Anglican Communion, some 140 of the bishops who were at GAFCON (and, one assumes, won't be at Lambeth) are Nigerians. If his numbers are right, Nigerians account for not quite two-thirds of the bishops who, for whatever reason, won't be at Lambeth.
(Editor's note: see boldfacing below)
ACNS, London , 3 July 2008
FROM INDABA TO REFLECTIONS
Timely issues to be addressed in “purposeful” discussion in Canterbury
The Secretary of the Lambeth Conference, the Revd Canon Kenneth Kearon has written a letter to the bishops attending the forthcoming Canterbury meeting outlining the form of discussion leading to “Reflections” that will mark the process of sharing what the Conference wishes to share with the wider church at its conclusion.
The programme indicates that issues and themes cover a vast array of serious matters such as Gender Violence, Sexuality, Environment, the Anglican Covenant and mission and evangelisation.
The Lambeth Conference is not synod or convention, but a gathering of bishops and spouses under the theme “Equipping Bishops for Mission”.
The letter says, “Among the desired outcomes anticipated by this diverse group from across the Communion was not so much debates, position papers , votes and resolutions but participation on an equal footing, listening as well as speaking and the emergence of wisdom and a common mind.”
The Primate of Cape Town, the Most Revd Thabo Makgoba, proposed to the Lambeth Design Group (LDG) and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the concept of Indaba, which was readily adopted by the Archbishop Williams and will form the way the bishops will work together during their time in Canterbury.
Indaba is a Zulu word for a gathering for purposeful discussion and is both a process and method of engagement, and offers a way of listening to one another concerning challenges that face the Anglican Communion.
Each Indaba group will nominate one of their group whom they believe to be most capable of carrying their views and the fruit of their discussion into the reflections process. Their ‘Listener’ joins a Listening Group under the chairmanship of Archbishop Roger Herft of Perth, in Western Australia.
Canon Kearon states, “Working with the summaries of the fruit of Indaba arising from each group, it will be their duty to generate a common text which reflects authentically the Indaba.” The text must reflect the mind of the bishops attending the 2008 Conference.
The intention is that the Listening Group will meet in four open sessions. Here all bishops can comment on the developing text. It is envisaged that in this way every bishop attending the conference will be given the opportunity to “shape the Reflections” from what emerges.
The letter concludes, “The hope of the Lambeth Design Group is that this process will permit the development of a Reflections Document which will meet the objectives set out for it, and be available on the last day of the conference to be received as an authentic account of the engagement of the bishops together in the service of Christ.”
The Lambeth Conference comprises some 650 bishops and their spouses for the every ten-year conference at the University of Kent at Canterbury and Canterbury Cathedral.
The Revd Canon Kenneth Kearon is Secretary General of the Anglican Communion
The Most Revd Roger Herft is Archbishop of Perth, Australia and served as Lambeth Conference Chaplain in 1998
The Most Revd Thabo Makgoba, Primate of Southern Africa, is a member of the Lambeth Design Group
The Most Revd and Rt Hon Rowan D Williams is the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury
You can play along at home with the bishops of the Anglican Communion as they address the Church's most daunting challenges by taking advantage of these resources.
Check out the resource page for the Lambeth Conference. Signs on the Way, is now available for download:
This special series - focusing on St John’s Gospel - complements the Bible studies in which the bishops and their spouses will take part during the Lambeth Conference 2008.
We hope that people throughout the Anglican Communion will use this series as a way of being present in spirit at the Lambeth Conference, supporting their bishops before, during and after this important gathering.
The studies are structured so that they can be used either by groups or by individuals. They can form the basis of personal devotions, a church study group or perhaps a diocesan meeting.
We have made the study guides as accessible as possible, using a series of questions in each case as the basis of the study.
The Signs on the Way materials are available in a choice of formats.
Episcopal Divinity School is also in the game. EDS is:
developing a new resource, Bringing Lambeth Home, built around the lesson plans used in the Indaba Bible study groups at the 2008 Lambeth Conference. Designed for dioceses, congregations, and other groups interested in Bible study, this curriculum provides users with a guide for using the Lambeth materials in a retreat, Sunday school, or weekly Bible study setting with adult learners. Indaba is a Zulu word from South Africa that means “gathering for the purposeful discussion in community.”
In the Indaba groups, bishops engage common issues before the Anglican Communion. These issues include: Anglican identity, evangelism, social justice and the Millennium Development Goals, ecumenism, safeguarding the integrity of creation, multifaith issues, gender inequalities and violence, biblical authority, human sexuality, and the Anglican Covenant and Windsor processes.
“We hope that people will use this resource as a way of coming together for a missiological, conversational, and prayerful approach to engaging some of the difficult issues in the Anglican Communion and the world,” said The Rev. Liz Magill, author of the study guide. “This study guide, which builds on the materials produced for the Lambeth Conference, makes it easy for groups to plan Indaba groups in their congregation or diocese.”
Bringing Lambeth Home is available in both print and electronic format (pdf) for easy reproduction. This resource will be ready for delivery in late August 2008. For more information, please contact Liz Magill at email@example.com.
You can also keep tabs on the bishops themselves. According to Episcopal News Service: A team will serve as Blogging Bishops during the Lambeth Conference. The Blogging Bishops’ blogs will be found on The Lambeth Journal; the url will be announced shortly.
More info to be forthcoming. Stay tuned!
Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire leaves for the Lambeth Conference. He will be blogging his experiences while in England and Scotland.
Off to England and the Lambeth Experience
Later today, I leave for England and the Lambeth Conference. I am writing to you to 1) ask for your prayers, 2) to let you know how you can keep up with the goings-on in England, and my reflections on them, and 3) to assure you that I will be taking you in my heart everywhere I go.
First, pray for the Lambeth Conference of Bishops, the Anglican Communion and the Archbishop of Canterbury, that the bonds of affection that bind us together might be strengthened and that God's will might be discerned as we struggle to be the Church in the 21st century. Pray especially for the Episcopal Church's bishops attending the Lambeth Conference, that we might greet our brother and sister bishops with grace and hospitality and be ready to learn what they have to teach us.
Then, please pray for me. Because the Archbishop of Canterbury chose to exclude me from the Lambeth Conference, I will need to be intentional about creating opportunities for interacting with bishops and spouses from around the Anglican Communion. Pray that God might open up those opportunities for conversation and open my heart for mutual learning.
Because of controversy surrounding my attendance, and the incessant press coverage which will undoubtedly insert itself, pray that God might keep me grounded in the Spirit of love, forgiveness and compassion.
Because of threats against my life that have already begun, pray that God might keep me (and those who have been hired to protect me) safe, and return me home to you.
During this whole time, I'll be praying with the Franciscan brothers and sisters at Greyfriars, in Canterbury. Join me in giving thanks for their hospitality and witness.
Specific Dates on Which to Pray:
Some of you have asked for particular dates and particular events for which I would desire your prayers:
Thursday, July 10: I will be speaking at the Modern Churchperson's Union conference (along with former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, the Primate of Wales, and several African bishops).
Sunday, July 13: I will be preaching at St. Mary's, Putney (just across the Thames from London, in the Diocese of Southwark). This will be the only time I'm allowed to preach while in England.
Monday, July 14: British premiere of the documentary "For the Bible Tells Me So," in Queen Elizabeth Hall, at the South Bank Centre for the Arts. I will be appearing with Daniel Karslake, the filmmaker, and Shakespearean actor (and Lord of the Rings star) Sir Ian McKellen. This event will be a fund-raiser for AIDS work in Africa.
Wednesdays, July 23 and 30: American bishops will be hosting two "Come meet our brother bishop Gene" evenings, open only to bishops and spouses. I will be "introduced" by several clergy and lay leaders from NH in a little DVD we've made for the event. Then I'll have a chance to engage bishops from around the Communion and tell them about the work of the Gospel here in NH.
August 3-6, I'll be preaching and speaking in Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland, as guest of the Church that gave us bishops some 200+ years ago.
Keeping Up With My Goings-On:
I will be writing a daily blog calledCanterbury Tales from the Fringe:
I will also be doing a daily VIDEO blog for Claiming the Blessing, called The Lambeth Gene Pool:
As I leave for Lambeth, know that I am so grateful for all your love and support. This promises to be a demanding and difficult time, but I go with the knowledge that we are living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ here in New Hampshire, in the spirit of infinite respect and radical hospitality. Thank you, my dear and beloved sisters and brothers in Christ, for your love and for your prayers.
Before the bishops arrive in Canterbury for the 2008 Lambeth Conference, hundreds of them will enjoy a taste of another part of Britain according to an Anglican Communion News Service press release.
Through the “Hospitality Initiative,” every bishop and spouse invited to the Lambeth Conference has also been invited to be the guest of an Anglican diocese in England, Wales, or Scotland. The response has been enormous, with hundreds accepting the invitation. They will spend five days in one of 57 dioceses stretching from Truro in the south to Moray, Ross and Caithness in the north and St David’s in the east.
Read it all below...
Live from Lambeth: Well, not quite yet. Beginning sometime in the next few days, the Café’s editor Jim Naughton will be reporting from England on the Lambeth Conference and related events. You can expect "Live from Lambeth" dispatches daily--at least. The Café’s other news bloggers will continue to round up and synthesize coverage of the events shaping the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion from the mainstream media, bloggers, and the church press. So stop by to find out what the bishops are up to, and whether Jim and the Café’s team can figure out how to edit the video he captures on his new Flip camera.
To read only our entries on the Lambeth Conference, visit this section of The Lead.
In an interview with the Tucson-based Arizona Daily Star, Bishop Kirk Smith of Arizona calls the exclusion of Bishop Gene Smith from Lambeth "insulting" to the Episcopal Church:
"I think it's a very insulting thing to the American church that a duly elected bishop is told he's not allowed to come," said Smith, who will be attending his first Lambeth Conference.
"The vast majority of my colleagues feel quite upset. But Gene himself told us, 'You need to go and make your case.' He has been gracious and complied with the archbishop of Canterbury. I hope I will be able to convince some of the bishops I meet with to meet Gene, so that he's not just a name."
Bishop Smith also spoke more broadly about the current controversy in the Anglican Communion about issues of sexuality and the future of the Communion:
"We have spent far too long arguing about these things, and we really need to get on with the mission of the church," Smith said. "One of my hopes for the Anglican bishops is that we can recommit ourselves to the larger mission, agree to disagree and get on with it."
Though he predicts a faction of the communion probably will leave, Smith is upbeat about the church's future.
"This group that met in Jerusalem, they don't want to be a part of it anymore. They are a minority — I think maybe five of 38 provinces. (But) some of those provinces, like Nigeria, are big," he said.
"We don't like to see anyone feel they have to leave for any reason. But will it mean end of church? Absolutely not. . . . I think the Anglican Communion will survive."
Read it all here.
The Times has a very interesting round-up of thoughts by Bishops and about their "hopes and fears for the future of the Anglican Communion.
Here are some highlights:
Daniel Deng Bul, Primate of the Episcopal Church of Sudan:
My expectation of Lambeth is that we have to unite the Anglican Communion. The Lord wants all the children in the Anglican Communion under His wing. If it doesn’t happen it will be a weakness for the Anglican world. I pray that the Anglican Communion will be mature enough so that we are able to iron out our differences.
John Bryson Chane, Bishop of Washington, DC :
Lambeth is an unique opportunity to clear the air in the Anglican Communion. For too long we have let our divisions impede our efforts on behalf of God’s Church and God’s poor. My greatest hope is that out of the earshot of the media, liberated from the temptation to play for political advantage, we may speak frankly, express grievances, explore our disagreements and seek reconciliation. Sixty of us began this difficult process at a meeting of North American and African bishops last summer in Spain. There we confronted the legacy of colonialism, age-old misunderstandings and significant theological differences. The conversations were sometimes wrenching, but always fruitful. Archbishop Williams has modelled Lambeth on Spain, and I find that profoundly encouraging. Our Communion will not be saved by legislation, nor by a covenant, but by affection, forbearance and mutual support.
Ronnie Bowlby, former Bishop of Southwark:
At the 1978 Lambeth conference an American bishop was heard to say: “What keeps the Anglican Communion together? Wippells” — an ecclesiastical outfitter which has supplied robes to many bishops over the years. A few years later I was at a meeting of MPs and bishops in London, among them Enoch Powell. His answer to the question, “What holds the Church of England together?” was succinct: “The Establishment”.
Those two comments have stuck in my mind, not because I think either is right but because there is enough truth in both to make one uneasy. Thirty years later the cracks are more evident, the glue less strong.
The key question then, as now, is how to enable change and evaluate it in the absence of an overarching authority and while staying together. I do not believe that the movement towards the full recognition of women’s ministry can be delayed indefinitely, even by Rome or the Orthodox churches, and change rarely comes all at once. Nor do I believe that we can continue to confuse promiscuity (which Scripture condemns) with responsible same-sex relationships. So my hope for the forthcoming conference participants is that they will dig deep into the foundational strengths of Anglicanism, especially through their prayer and study. These go much further back than the Reformation, and it will help all of us if there then emerges some kind of new covenant which gives weight to all our history and yet points firmly to the future. This in turn could help us to be patient with each other and to trust God to lead us into fuller truth.
Read them all here.
The internet will be buzzing with blogging bishops, some with flip phones for videoblogging, during the Lambeth Conference. Here is your one-stop shopping for blogs by bishops and others who will be involved in the Fringe events or reporting on the every 10 year event. Bookmark this page for easy reference. Click on the name to find the site.
In addition to the bishops listed below, you'll want to follow The Lead, Live from Lambeth with our editor in chief, Jim Naughton.
Bishops blogging Lambeth
The Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, Diocese of New Hampshire
The Rt. Rev. Kirk Smith, Diocese of Arizona
Lambeth Journal Episcopal Life blog featuring the following bishops:
Sean Rowe of Northwestern Pennsylvania (lead blogger)
Laura Ahrens, Suffragan of Connecticut
Marc Andrus of California
Larry Benfield of Arkansas
Sergio Carranza, Assistant of Los Angeles
Neff Powell of Southwestern Virginia
Bavi Edna "Nedi" Rivera, suffragan of Olympia
Jean Zache Duracin of Haiti
Other bishops with active blogs
The Rt. Rev Alan Wilson, Area Bishop of Buckingham, Church of England.
The Rt. Rev. Christopher Epting, TEC Ecumenical Officer.
The Rt. Rev. Charles Jenkins, Diocese of Louisiana.
The Rt. Rev. Mike Hill, Bishop of Bristol, Church of England.
The Rt. Rev. James Stanton, Bishop of Dallas.
The Rt. Rev. Dorsey Henderson, Bishop of Upper South Carolina.
The Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus, Bishop of California.
The Rt. Rev. George Packard, Bishop for Chaplaincies TEC.
The Rt. Rev. David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, Scotland.
Province of Brazil by the Rev. Francisco Silva, Provincial Secretary, Province of Brazil.
The Rt. Rev. Chilton Knudsen and The Rt. Rev. Stephen Lane, Diocese of Maine.
The Most Rev. Mauricio Andrade Province of Brazil.
The Rt Rev. Pierre Whalon, Churches in Europe TEC.
The Rt. Rev. Wayne Smith, Diocese of Missouri.
The Rt. Rev. Michael Hough, Diocese of Ballarat, Australia.
The Rt. Rev. Porter Taylor, Diocese of Western North Carolina.
The Rt Rev Larry Benfield, Diocese of Arkansas.
The Rt. Rev. Bob Duncan, Diocese of Pittsburgh.
The Rt. Rev. Tom Ely, Diocese of Vermont.
The Rt. Rev. Greg Kerr-Wilson, Bishop of Qu'Appelle (Canada)
The Rt. Rev. David Rossdale, Grimsby, UK:
Other sites more or less going all-Lambeth for the next several weeks:
epiScope Episcopal Church news site.
Newsline Episcopal Church site for the Press.
Dave Walker, Official Cartoonist for the Lambeth Conference and Church Times blog editor.
Did we miss any blogging bishops? Let us know.
Despite the archbishop of Nigeria's injunction against doing so, the Right Rev Cyril Okorocha, the Bishop of Owerri, will attend Lambeth next week, according to Ruth Gledhill. She writes that he will be the only Nigerian bishop in attendance out of the 100 under Akinola's watch, although more than a dozen phoned in their regrets that they "dare not disobey their archbishop":
The Right Rev Cyril Okorocha, the Bishop of Owerri, will defy Dr Peter Akinola, the Nigerian primate, when he arrives at his host parish in Oxshott, Surrey, this weekend. He will be the only Nigerian bishop at the Lambeth conference when it opens on Wednesday.
A source close to the bishop, who used to be on the staff at Lambeth Palace, where he looked after mission, said that he was coming because he believed strongly in the unity of the Anglican Communion.
The remainder of the article focuses on the emerging rift in the Church of England, and the page includes a sidebar with links to archives on similar outcry against women's ordination in 1984. You can read it here.
By Jim Naughton
Greetings from Putney, where I am ensconced until Tuesday morning at the home of the Rev. Giles Fraser, his wife Sally and their three children, including Alice, the forbearing 12-year-old who has surrendered her bedroom so that I might have a place to sleep. I’d like to say that I hit the ground in England running, but it would be more accurate to say that I hit the ground eating and sleeping.
Not long after I arrived at Giles’ place, he and I decamped for breakfast with Bishop Gene Robinson, his partner Mark Andrew and Mike Barwell, Gene’s media relations man, who makes a mean plate of ham and eggs. It took much of the morning to figure out why my mobile phone wasn’t working. In the meantime, we visited Giles’ church, St. Mary’s Putney, hard by Putney Bridge, where the annual Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race begins. Some of the church dates to the, well, I forget, but a hell of a long time ago. It’s where the “Putney Debates” occurred during the English Civil War, and there’s a small room in the church where a visitor can close the door and listen to several educational videos about the controversy between the leaders of Cromwell’s army, and some of their soldiers who argued that they should have the right to vote. (I was half asleep when I watched these videos, so click on the link if you really want to know what they were arguing about.)
Afterwards I was fit for nothing but “getting some kip” as Giles says, which translates roughly into the American as “taking a nap.” I awoke just in time to eat some more. Giles and I met the Rev. Susan Russell and her partner Louise Brooks for a pizza in Putney. First, though, Giles took me to a pub so we could watch some cricket and he could explain to me why it was worth watching. I sent my wife an email saying that I was in a pub watching cricket with a man named Giles who was drinking a Guinness. Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?
All right, enough of the travelogue I suppose. I go back to the church in a few hours to begin a day of media wrangling. Gene is doing about 14 brief interviews between noon and when he preaches at the 6:30 p. m. Eucharist at Giles’ church. Five of them are television interviews and two or three of those are live, so it could get rather hectic. A friend in the UK asked me before I came if I thought Gene had peaked and was on the way down, in terms of his media profile here in England. Apparently not quite. He’s just finished doing the Andrew Marr Show, which is the BBC's Sunday morning flagship political franchise. The church press may feel as though they have told his story often enough, but the secular media remains riveted. The BBC, Sky TV, ITV, AP, the Times, the Telegraph and the Guardian (for whom Gene wrote yesterday’s Face to Faith column) will all be on hand today, as will The Washington Post.
Giles’ family has just left for church. He serves two churches in the parish, and today is the only Sunday in the year on which he doesn’t have a morning service at both churches. Instead, they meet at the church which I haven’t seen yet, celebrate the Eucharist and have a big picnic. Giles’ and Sally’s six-year-old, Felix, tells me he is looking forward to playing in the “bouncy castle,” previously known to me as a “moon bounce.” Giles himself is bracing for some ribbing from his parishioners. As Café readers know, he was named one of the 50 most influential Anglicans by a panel of experts (including me, so perhaps “expert” like “kip” and “bouncy castle” requires a UK to US dictionary.) News of his eminence will be featured in print for the first time in today’s Sunday Telegraph.
“I am expecting a certain amount of piss-taking” Giles told me last night. I have read the Dalziel-Pascoe detective novels of Reginald Cook, in which piss-taking occurs on almost every page, so I knew that he meant he was expecting to be made fun of. Without such preparation, I might have wondered why he was telling me this.
Time to go wrestle with an ironing board, so my clothes don’t look as though I’ve slept in all of them.
As Lambeth nears, we are starting to notice some interesting items in the U.K. Press. Here are a few items that caught our attention this morning:
The Telegraph reports that the Archbishop of Wales supports the consecratation of gay bishops:
The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, told The Sunday Telegraph that practising homosexuals should not be barred from becoming bishops.
He accused conservative Anglicans of being “exclusive” and narrow-minded in their opposition to gay clerics.
His comments, which come on the eve of the Lambeth Conference - the Anglican communion’s ten-yearly gathering of bishops - are set to inflame the bitter controversy over homosexuality.
Dr Morgan said that he was in agreement with the decision of the American church five years ago to consecrate the homosexual cleric Gene Robinson as a bishop - the move which has pushed the Anglican church to the brink of schism.
The Independent reports on Bishop Gene Robinson's visit to the U.K. despite the lack of an invitation to Lambeth:
"I'm the first elected bishop not to be invited to the conference since it began in 1867," the Rt Rev Robinson told the IoS. "I must be a pretty scary guy." Used to inspiring deep feelings, he wore a bullet-proof vest to his consecration in 2003 after receiving "numerous and credible" death threats.
Tomorrow he will appear at the Southbank Centre in London for the premiere of the controversial documentary For the Bible Tells Me So, where the acclaimed actor and gay rights campaigner Sir Ian McKellen – who says "the church has to grow up" – will be at his side.
He will then travel to the University of Kent, where the conference is being held. He may speak at a fringe meeting but won't be an official delegate, although many of his supporters from America and many other countries will be – and this has been enough to make many traditionalists stay away.
. . .
The film he will introduce tomorrow looks at several deeply Christian families in America, including his own, who discover that some of their children are gay and try to reconcile religious teaching with their love for their offspring.
Sir Ian McKellen told the IoS: "The argument [the church] is having now is similar to the argument in the military in which heads of the service predicted its disintegration if gay people were allowed in. That is nonsense. They thought it was a problem particular to the military, but really it was the same old homophobia that exists everywhere."
The BBC reports that as Bishop Robinson began his sermon at St. Mary's, Putney, a heckler interrupted the sermon and was escorted from the congregation.
The BBC described the situation this way:
It was a very Church of England way to deal with a heckler.
As a protester stood up to barrack the Right Reverend Gene Robinson, the world's first openly gay Anglican Bishop, the congregation did not abuse or strongarm him.
Instead, they opened their Orders of Service and began to sing.
Hymn number four: Thine Be The Glory, Risen, Conquering Son.
But for all the almost parodic Englishness of the churchgoers' response, this was an electrifying moment....
His address had begun unobtrusively enough among this largely liberal congregation, with a note of regret that human sexuality had become a point of focus for Anglicans rather than poverty and injustice.
How sad it was, Bishop Robinson remarked, that the Anglican Communion was "tearing itself apart" over the issue.
Then the heckler stood up.
"Because of heretics like you," he hollered.
Long-haired and clutching a motorcycle helmet, the interlocutor did not look much like most people's idea of a theological conservative.
But he yelled: "Go back, go back. Repent, repent, repent."
Bishop Robinson grimaced. Boos echoed around the church. A slow handclap began.
Then Giles Fraser, the parish's vicar, told his flock to open their hymn sheets.
The singing drowned out the heckles as the traditionalist was escorted from the building by churchwardens.
The congregation finished their verse. Silence was restored. With what looked like tears in his eyes, Bishop Robinson resumed his sermon, speaking softly this time.
"Pray for that man," he said.
Rachel Zoll from the AP reports:
Robinson preached Sunday at the 16th-century parish on the Thames River, despite a request from Williams that he not do so. A protester briefly interrupted the sermon, waving a motorcycle helmet and yelling "Repent!" and "Heretic!" before he was escorted out.
An emotional Robinson resumed preaching, asking parishioners to "pray for that man" and urging them repeatedly not to fear change in the church.
The Bishop continued his sermon after heckler was escorted out and drove away on a motor bike, according to another BBC report:
By Jim Naughton
The Bishop of New Hampshire's day ended with Chinese food and chocolate ice cream. He sat with some 15 friends in a second floor conference room in St. Mary’s Church in Putney, talking about nothing in particular, as though he had passed a normal day, with another on the horizon.
Three hours earlier, the church had been filled beyond its seating capacity, as more than 500 worshippers jammed into the sanctuary, gallery and overflow areas to hear Robinson preach for the first time in an English church. The crowd included Ben Bradshaw, a member of Prime Minister Gordon Brown's cabinet; some 20 clergy, including Marilyn McCord Adams and Giles Goddard, activists like Katie Sherrod and Davis Mac Iyalla, a passel of press, and scores of plain old parishioners--the folks who keep St. Mary's running.
Robinson had been talking from almost the moment he woke up that morning. Before arriving at the church at noon, he had done three interviews with the BBC. Two of those were radio conversations, one for the BBC World Service and the other for a national news feed. In between, he and his friend and ally Sir Ian McKellen sat for a conversation with Andrew Marr on his influential Sunday morning program.
Once he hit the church, Robinson dove into the first of a dozen more interviews, this one with Rachel Zoll of the Associated Press. Over the next five hours he spoke with Robert Pigott of the BBC, ITN television, Sky TV, Channel 4 TV, Ruth Gledhill of the Times of London, Steve Daughty of the Daily Mail, Mary Jordan of the Washington Post, Solange DeSantis of Episcopal Life Media, a reporter from the Press Association and others.
In the midst of this media blitz--which continues tomorrow with an interview with Reuters and several other outlets--it is worth remembering that after Rowan Williams decided not to invite Robinson to the Lambeth Conference, Lambeth Palace, by way of a peace offering, offered to procure for him a single interview with a major media outlet.
All day Robinson spoke of his sympathy for Williams, whom he said cannot make a move without disappointing or infuriating someone. However, he said he was unwilling for the bishops to meet without reminding them, in a friendly way, that there are marginalized gay and lesbian Christians in every province of the Communion, who were no longer willing to remain unseen and unheard.
Robinson was far from unseen. For the first two minutes of his sermon, eight newspaper photographers snapped away as he thanked people for coming and urged them to come back on subsequent Sundays. Meanwhile, a pool camera, manned by a crew from the BBC, recorded the events.
Robinson was in the midst of telling the crowd in St. Mary's that the Communion was tearing itself apart of the secondary issue of sexuality while millions struggled through life on less than $1 per day, when a broad-chested man with shoulder length brown hair rose and began shouting. Dressed in a black Triumph t-shirt and black leather pants, he waved his motorcycle helmet at Robinson, called him a heretic and demanded that he repent. The St. Mary's congregation quickly began rhythmic clapping, the organist struck up a hymn, and several members of the congregation escorted the man from the sanctuary. Outside, he stood for several minutes near his bike, pulled on his black leather jacket and matching gloves, and departed.
Before the night was over, a journalist who wasn't present got in touch with St. Mary's vicar, the Rev. Giles Fraser and jokingly asked him whether he'd pulled the man off of the street and paid him to disrupt the service to create as unfavorable an image as possible of Robinson's adversaries.
Robinson resumed his sermon by asking the congregation to pray for the man who was outside preparing to ride away. The remainder of the Eucharist, was like any other, except the music was better than most churches, and the temperature higher due to the overcrowding.
When the service was over, the impromptou dinner party broke out on the terrace outside Fraser's office overlooking the Thames, then moved indoors when the weather got cool.
Tomorrow evening, Robinson and McKellen will host the British premier of Dan Karslake's documentary For the Bible Tells Me So, which tells the story of how six conservative Christian families, including Robinson's, came to terms with having a gay child. Until then, readers might want to look in on The Guardian, which sent five or six reporters, each of whom will write about the evening for a different section of the paper.
Report of Gene's sermon is here
By Jim Naughton
Last night I wrote in haste, so this morning I hope to reflect at something like leisure. We are sitting in Giles’ office at the church going through the morning papers and perusing the news web sites one last time. The protester who disrupted Bishop Gene’s sermon last night is in just about every paper, even the Sun, which features “Gay bishop’s ear-bashing” just a few pages beyond the topless “Page 3 girl.” I learned just this morning that the sermon was deemed of such importance that the BBC carried the entire sermon live on its 24-hour news channel.
The ubiquity of the event made the 10-minute stroll from Giles’ home to the church a real pleasure. People kept stopping us on the high street (Why don’t we have high streets in the U. S? Can anything be done about this? A new political party, perhaps?) to congratulate their vicar and tell him how well things had gone. I didn’t realize it, but Giles had planned for a potential disturbance, and had even chosen the hymn the congregation sang to drown out the protester. My favorite moment on the high street (I am resolved to use this phrase as frequently as possible) occurred when Jim Madden, a 6-foot-5 inch former constable and Conservative member of the Putney council embraced Giles and said that he was glad he wasn’t seated near the protester because he wasn’t sure he would have treated him as gently as the situation required.
When we arrived at the church and Renu, Giles’ administrative assistant, and Rob, St. Mary's indefatigable sexton were already in the office. Renu, a slight Indian woman who helped out with arrangement, security and media wrangling yesterday, told us that her sister asked her whether she got to wear a bullet-proof vest. “I told her all I had was my Marks and Spencer under wire bra,” Renu said.
Renu and Pria, a BBC’s producer who is also slight, personable and Indian, were constantly being mistaken for one another as they scurried around the church yesterday. “The one day you get two Indian women in the church and no one can tell them apart,” Renu said.
Anyway, about the papers, at first I was concerned that the protest had displaced the sermon (and all of those laboriously arranged interviews that I wrote about yesterday) as the story. But it was probably the protest that pushed the story towards the top of the news. And anyone who watched film of the protest, saw how gently it was handled, and how Gene resumed his sermon by asking the congregation to pray for the protester. More importantly, stories that boil down to dueling opinions eventually fade from view--or, at the very least, they fail to progress. The protest gave the story a sense of movement. Something happened. It wasn’t much--there had been one protester outside before the Eucharist, there was one inside during--but it conveyed a sense that this momentous message that Gene was bringing to the English church was being absorbed and that people were responding.
Coming on the heels of the story about the gay blessing service at St. Bartholomew’s Church in London, the extravagant publicity garnered by Gene’s appearances here, makes it increasingly untenable for an English bishop to argue, as Tom Wright does, that the controversy over the morality of gay relationships is a North American concern. The veil that the English church has drawn to hide its gay clergy and obscure the tolerant practices of many of its bishops has been pulled back, at least for the moment. Rowan Williams may continue to speak about the American churches divergence from “the mind of the Communion,” but his listeners will be aware that he isn't necessarily in touch with the mind of his own church.
Meanwhile.... There are a couple of bits of information floating loose in the world this morning, and I wanted to say a bit about them.
1. It is true that many people in the Episcopal Church would like to get us out from under Resolution B033, the legislation passed on the last day of our 2006 General Convention which calls upon "Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.“ This isn’t a secret. Numerous dioceses have already submitted resolutions to next year’s General Convention asking that the legislation be repealed, or superseded. If this legislation passes (a big if--I am not sure there are enough votes in the House of Bishops to get the job done) a gay candidate would have a better chance of being elected and confirmed. The notion that if the legislation passed we’d immediately elect another gay bishop is speculative. The notion that we’d suddenly have five or six is hallucinatory. At this point, it is not even possible to know for which dioceses will be electing bishops, which priests would be chosen as candidates, or how the internal dynamics of the dioceses would affect the elections. (I have gone on about this at some length because I have had calls from three reporters about this story this morning.)
2. Integrity has not provided cell phones for all of the Episcopal bishops attending the Lambeth Conference--or even for those sympathetic to its agenda. The Episcopal Church has provided cell phones for all its bishops--and their spouses, too, I believe.
It seems likely to me that the level of misinformation and disinformation about the Episcopal Church is likely to increase in the next few weeks.
Video of Gene's sermon is here.
UPDATE: From the Daily Telegraph:
Today Mandrake can name [the heckler] as Graham Maxwell, a freelance photographer who, it emerges, has been employed by the London Fire Brigade to cover its participation in two Gay Pride marches in London.
Maxwell declined to comment when Mandrake asked whether he saw any incongruity in the protest that he made and what he has done for a living.
Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, primate of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori took part in the 10:30 a.m. Eucharist at Salisbury Cathedral on July 13.
Episcopal News Service reports that the liturgy was part of the pre-Lambeth Conference Hospitality Initiative. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the bishops of the Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) are visiting the Church of England's Diocese of Salisbury and participating in the life and ministry of the city's historic cathedral in its 750th anniversary year. An ENS photograph shows Bul and Jefferts Schori before the procession int the historic cathedral.
The report, below, describes Jefferts Schori's preaching schedule yesterday:
The Guardian has several articles on the eve of the Lambeth Conference. Giles Fraser reflects on his time with Gene Robinson and Stephen Bates wonders if Archbishop Rowan Williams is the man for the job of holding the Anglican Communion together.
Sir Ian McKellen performed the soliloquy that Shakespeare contributed to the play Sir Thomas More at the close of a question and answer session in which he participated with Bishop Gene Robinson after the British premier of the film For the Bible Tells Me So, by Dan Karslake., last night in the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.
By Jim Naughton
Before last night’s British premier of For the Bible Tells Me So, director Dan Karslake sat in the Green Room at the South Bank Arts Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre and tried to explain to Sir Ian McKellen why he had made the film. Dan said that because Biblical justifications are central to the defense of anti-gay policies, he felt that it was important to examine what the Bible actually said about long term, monogamous homosexual relationships (which, the clergy and scholars in the film argue is: nothing). But more important, he said, was his belief that people’s attitudes are changed most profoundly through intimate relationships, and because there are few relationships more intimate than that bond between parent and child, he decided to focus on how conservative Christian parents came to terms--or failed to come to terms--with a child’s homosexuality.
Elsewhere in the room, Bishop Gene Robinson, his partner Mark Andrew, a two-man documentary film crew and some theatre staff finished ironing out the evening’s logistics The design for the evening was straight forward. Sir Ian would introduce the film, after the film he’d introduce Bishop Gene, they’d converse, talk show-style for about five minutes, and then Sir Ian would open the floor to questions.
There was really only one suspenseful element to the evening: would 13-year-old Chris Naughton’s father be able to obtain Sir Ian’s autograph and thus be re-admitted to the bosom of his family, or fail ignominiously due to lack of nerve and be banished.
On stage a few minutes after his conversation with Karslake, McKellen outlined the evening for the audience, described how he had seen the film for the first time on a whim in Minneapolis one afternoon, and loved it, mentioned that it had won awards at nine film festivals and played in hundreds of churches, referred to Bishop Gene as “a hero of our time” and sat down in the front row.
I will write more about the film at another time, I hope. Suffice it to say that it deserved the standing ovation it received, and that some of the testimony Karslake elicited from the parents he spoke with will move even seasoned culture warriors. The question and answer period had a familiar feel to anyone who has ever watched a black backdrop sort of interview program. Gene spoke about meeting Karslake for the first time, when the director some how talked his way through security on the day of Gene’s consecration in New Hampshire to make his pitch.
“I knew I could trust him,” Gene said. More important: “I knew I could trust him with my parents. And were they not adorable?"
To McKellen’s question about why he wasn’t content just to do his work with the people of his diocese, a question much on the lips of those in the Communion who find his presence here inconvenient (and his popularity a rebuke) Gene responded: “I am with them 90 percent of the time, but all they ever hear about is when I get to sit on a stage with Sir Ian McKellen and do fancy things.”
He said that often, on the day following a big media event, he’s in a church basement eating macaroni and cheese, followed by a Jello mold dessert.
"If you want to see what the church is going to be about when we stop obsessing about sex,” Gene said, “come to New Hampshire.”
His best applause line of the evening was: “It’s time for us to take back the Bible from people who have been using it as a bludgeon against some of the most vulnerable members of society.”
The question and answer session elicited only sympathetic queries. One questioner described sitting behind the protester who interrupted Gene’s sermon on Sunday night at St. Mary’s, and being verbally abused by the man before he was escorted from the building. A few moments later a priest in the audience said he actually knew the protester, and said he wasn’t such a bad fellow once you got to know him and understood some of the difficulties he had faced in his own life. He gave the man’s name, but I haven’t had a chance to verify it, so I won’t disclose it here.
Another of Gene’s better moments came when he described how everyone in the gay rights movement, as in all human rights movements, “stand on the shoulders” of those who came before them. Referring to the Stonewall uprising in Greenwich Village in the late 1960s, he said, “I am here because some drag queens got sick and tired of being harassed by the police.”
The evening ended with Sir Ian performing a speech that Shakespeare wrote for a play not his own: The Book of Sir Thomas More. (The theme is the inhumanity of persecuting strangers, and you can read it by clicking on Read More.)
When Gene asked him if he would perform the speech for him as a favor, Sir Ian said, yes, adding, "you've practically converted me to Christianity."
As for the suspense: at the last possible moment, just as he was to walk out of the Green Room door with some friends, Sir Ian remembered that Chris Naughton’s dad was hoping for his signature.
“There you are,” he said. “Does he know Lord of the Rings?
“Yes, and X Men and...”
But Lord of the Rings was enough. Sir Ian wrote Chris’ name on the top of my notebook page, then in hasty strokes he drew the profile of Gandalf the wizard with smoke coming from his pipe. “Love from London. Ian McKellen, 2008.”
I am not going home tomorrow. But I could.
(Hat tip: Mike Barwell).
Riazat Butt of the Guardian describes a few of the bishops who are not attending Lambeth and why. Meanwhile, at least one Nigerian bishop and one Kenyan bishop have defied their archbishops and are going to Lambeth anyway. In other news, Greg Venables, primate of the Southern Cone has revealed that Bishop John-David Schofield will not be attending.
Butt has a brief paragraph on the following (as she lists them):
The Archbishop of Nigeria, the Most Rev Peter Akinola
The Archbishop of Sydney, the Most Rev Peter Jensen
The Bishop of Rochester, the Right Rev Michael Nazir-Ali
The Archbishop of Uganda, the Most Rev Henry Luke Orombi
Minns won't be far away. He is going to be on vacation in Britain and so will be nearby Lambeth, as Time magazine once said, "just in case he's needed." And remember at GAFCON when Archbishops Orombi and Akinola could not bring themselves to condemn anti-gay violence in their countries, it was left to Archbishop Jensen to say the right things to the press.
While Orombi and Akinola are staying home, we have reports that at least two bishops, one from Kenya and the other from Nigeria, are attending Lambeth anyway.
The other bishop is the Right Rev Cyril Okorocha, the Bishop of Owerri, as we noted earlier.
The Guardian: Riazatt Butt-- Lambeth Conference: The Absentees.
ACNS currently puts the number of bishops expected at 650, or more than 75%.
According to the Diocese of San Joaquin, Southern Cone, Archbishop Greg Venables reveals, that Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has written that John-David Schofield has declined his invitation to the Lambeth Conference:
"I understand that Bishop John-David Schofield has been accepted as a full member of the episcopal fellowship of the Province of the Southern Cone within the Anglican Communion and as such cannot be regarded as having withdrawn from the Anglican Communion. However, it is acknowledged that his exact status (especially given the complications surrounding the congregations associated with him) remains unclear on the basis of the general norms of Anglican Canon Law, and this constitutes one of the issues on which we hope for assistance from the Windsor Continuation Group. Bishop Schofield has elected to decline the invitation to the Lambeth Conference issued to him last year although that decision does not signal any withdrawal from the Communion. I hope there may be further careful reflection to clarify the terms on which he will exercise his ministry."
Mark Harris comments here.
Bishop Venables is slip sliding away with the language of a carefully crafted statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury, turning a letter that said nothing about the people of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin and nothing very positive about Bishop Schofield into a lauding of both.
Stephen Bates profiles Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on the eve of the Lambeth Conference.
As he prepares to welcome the bishops of the worldwide Anglican communion to their once-a-decade meeting at the Lambeth conference tomorrow, his first as Archbishop of Canterbury, Williams knows that as many as a quarter will not turn up and that there are open challenges to his leadership of the third largest Christian denomination, both from across the world and within the Church of England.
Last week, as the Anglican general synod in York overruled his advice to provide stronger safeguards for those opposed to women bishops - even though he himself is in favour of women in the episcopate - he sat with his head in his hands. Derided by conservatives, despaired of by progressives, his leadership flounders in division and dismay.
. . . . . .
If this ever was a dispute about what the church thinks men get up to in bed together, or even, as evangelicals like to claim, about scriptural authority and obedience to the Bible, it now looks much more like a highly politicised power struggle for the soul of Anglicanism, with the archbishop stuck in the middle, trying to hold the show together.
Are they people of the Book, or people of the Spirit: governed by indelible words and rules laid down 2,000 years ago, or by the evolving spirit of Christian understanding in a changing world?
Some evangelicals are demanding a church within a church with their own disciplinary structures and self-appointed tests for orthodoxy; some archbishops claim loudly that the church is broken; others will not share communion - the fundamental test of fellowship - with those they deem unclean because of their liberalism towards gay people.
Although archbishops of Canterbury have only seen themselves as leading a truly international church in the last 50 years, just as the British empire evaporated, the office has always remained a central focus of Anglicanism. Part of the definition of being an Anglican is that you are in communion with Canterbury.
. . . . . .
The US and Canadian churches also feel confused and abandoned. Robinson's election was the excuse for some conservatives in the traditionally socially liberal Episcopal church to launch their attempt to dissociate themselves by setting up their own networks, supervised by province-breaking African bishops. The Africans have even started making some of the conservatives bishops in their own churches - Rwanda has nearly as many American bishops in its church as Rwandans - entirely against Anglican traditions of episcopal autonomy.
Liberal American bishops - many of them old friends of Williams, who knows the US well - have been baffled by his apparent unwillingness to understand their democratic polity. Although some who consecrated Robinson privately now say it was a mistake because it upset the rest of the communion so much, they insist that he was properly chosen and rightfully elected.
It exasperates them that the archbishop has spoken as though the Episcopal church is evenly divided, when actually its schism involves half a dozen dioceses out of 113, and that it took Williams four years to attend a meeting of the US bishops in New Orleans last September. By all accounts, they were distinctly unimpressed - and he and his staff were surprised to find that the Americans were serious and godly men and women, not the atheistic ogres painted by their opponents.
. . . . .
Nevertheless the void has been filled by more determined and aggressive characters than he and disaffection is spreading. The recent meeting of evangelicals in London attracted far more attendees than the organisers expected.
"It wasn't just the usual suspects," one evangelical English bishop said. "The church will have to take them more seriously, but the House of Bishops isn't ready to do that. He's lost the respect of liberal catholics over the gay issue and conservative evangelicals don't like him because they are too stupid to understand his theological nuances and think he isn't a proper Christian. History will judge Rowan to have been much more effective than people like to suggest. The Lambeth conference and the Anglican communion are busted flushes now, but that's not Rowan's fault for trying."
The insurgent coalition remains confused: American high church Catholics making convenient common cause with English, African and Australian evangelicals such as the Jensens who say they could never attend a high church mass.
They want their definition of Anglican orthodoxy imposed, but not by an archbishop with views such as Williams's. They insist they are not leaving, but that is possibly because they mostly have nowhere else to go. Anglicanism remains, in the old evangelical phrase, a convenient boat to fish from: outside the seas are dark and choppy. They would not have the status of the institution, its buildings or its resources.
Bishop Alan blogs while packing his toothbrush and talks what will be required of the Bishops attending Lambeth as they take part in the Indaba groups.
In an earlier post, he notes that most of the Bishops taking part have never been to a Lambeth before. This, he said, is good because the "Lambeth virgins" will not be weighed down with preconceived notions about how it is 'supposed' to work.
Meeting 15 bishops in Saturday, only one had actually been to one before so we're pretty much all Lambeth virgins. That may help us think different; what some would see as the greatest weakness of the process may actually save the day.
Bishop Alan says the Indaba process requires seven things.
1. Indaba demands full participation
2. Indaba is an emergent process
3. Indaba is driven by trust
4. Indaba requires working space
5. Indaba is an expression of respect
6. Indaba is an expression of faith
7. Indaba requires recognition that "there is a real world out there."
For Indaba to be successful, it will be when Bishops realize that “It’s not that the God of the Church has a mission, but the God of Mission has a Church.”
The Lambeth Conference opens today.
We have a special treat in store brought to you by our Art Blog editor, Mel Ahlborn. For the duration of the Lambeth Conference the art blog will be going to a daily, rather than weekly, format. Follow it here. The series will feature art from museums around the world, trying to include as many Anglican provinces as possible.
While you're at the art blog, check out past post. There's more to the art at the Episcopal Cafe than you may have ever realized.
By Jim Naughton
The biggest Anglican news event in London yesterday transpired relatively unnoticed. Rosemary Makhulu, the wife of the Most Rev. Walter Makhulu was laid to rest from All Saints Church in Fullham, just across the Thames from St. Mary’s, Putney, where Bishop Gene Robinson preached on Sunday. Mrs. Makhulu grew up in Fullham, and she and her husband moved there after his retirement. Bishop Trevor Mwamba of Botswana preached the sermon. The last I had heard, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his wife, Leah, and Zanele Mbeki, wife of South African President Thabo Mbeki were expected to be among the mourners. In a sign of how sensitive feelings in the Communion are at the moment the fact that Bishop Mwamba had to beg out of a visit to Newcastle on Tyne, that was part of the pre-Lambeth hospitality initiative to preach at the funeral of his twins’ godmother was immediately seized on in some circles as evidence that he thought Newcastle was insufficiently exciting.
In another sign of the state of affairs in the Communion, consider that during his tenure at primate of the Province of Central Africa, Makhulu used his office to advance the cause of Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress in their struggle against apartheid while his successor the recently-retired Bernard Malango, hero to American conservatives, used his office to protect the interests of Robert Mugabe. The Province of Central Africa is currently without a primate because two diocesan sees are vacant, and an election cannot be held, a state of affairs that suits the interests of American conservatives who are afraid that Malango’s successor might be a bishop in the mold of Makhulu, but leaves many Africans without episcopal or primatial leadership.
My own day was less hectic than any since my arrival on Saturday morning. Ruth Gledhill of the Times was kind enough to come to Giles Fraser’s church, chat with Giles and me, and then drive me to Giles’ house. I picked up my bags and hopped back in Ruth’s car for the drive to my hotel. I realize that the notion that Ruth and I would speak kindly to (and of) one another may surprise some readers, but she’s an extremely knowledgeable observer of the Anglican scene, her coverage helps set the Communion’s agenda, and she doesn’t seem to me to be ideologically motivated, although I don’t think she would object to my saying that she has her enthusiasms, and that these shape her coverage. There is more room for this in the British press, she says, and she argues that there is greater transparency in being open about how you feel toward various folks and factions (as she does on her blog) than adopting the American stance of public objectivity. The only other details about our ride that I want to disclose is that if the whole journalism thing doesn’t work out for her after 20+ years on the job, she would make an exceedingly skilled taxi driver. I’ve never seen anyone move a car with a manual shift through city traffic while simultaneously consulting Google maps on a Blackberry.
Last night, Ruth Frey, the administrator of the Chicago Consultation and Herb Gunn, the diocesan newspaper editor from the Diocese of Michigan, who is also writing for the Episcopal Women’s Caucus, and I went to see King Lear at the Globe Theater. It was the first tourist-y moment of the trip. (They had gotten a bit of a head start on me, taking in evensong from seats in the choir at Westminster Abbey.) Afterwards we walked back along the Thames toward Westminster, crossed the pedestrian bridge, took pictures of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament and planned the rest of our week.
I will be in London until Friday morning, meeting journalists and bloggers I’ve known only through our e-mail exchanges. The bishops have begun arriving in Canterbury, and those who didn’t come over for the hospitality initiative are a little cranky due to jet lag. Some journalists have gone down to the University of Kent, where the conference is being held, to pick up their credentials. Many aren’t sure what they will find to write about. They tend to see this as a failing on the part of the conference planners, but I am not certain that is right. If the press briefings are meaty, and feature bishops who can tell stories relevant to the themes assigned to each days, the Communion might make at least some headway in focusing attention on issues other than sexuality. If, however, the briefings are all bromides and boiler plate, then the media’s attention will focus on the various interest groups and the events on the so-called “Lambeth Fringe.” Conversation there will be freer and less focused, and the conference organizers will come off badly—very badly—if they attempt to control those exchanges.
In fact my principal concern about the conference, minted fresh this morning, is that people of influence who haven’t figured out how to make themselves heard by the general public will attempt to control the conversations of those who have. If that happens, it won’t end well.
Visitors who read Peter Carey's essay on Daily Episcopalian yesterday, in which he suggested that the bishops at the Lambeth Conference play some soccer (football in the rest of the world), may be intrigued by this segment from BBC Radio 4's Today program, in which Giles Fraser raises the possibility of paint ball.
Update: The Lambeth Reader can now be found at the Lambeth Conference website.
Ruth Gledhill reports on the Lambeth Reader, "a document intended only for delegates but seen by The Times":
Conservative bishops have been accused of breaching their duties and damaging the welfare of Christians as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, fights back against his critics.
Anglican bishops arriving for the Lambeth Conference yesterday were told to stop their backstabbing and in-fighting if they were not to “weaken the body of Christ”.
A background paper distributed to 650 bishops and archbishops attending the ten-yearly conference in Canterbury told them to remember that their relationships with each other were “fragile and tainted by sin”.
“Given the present state of the Anglican Communion it is the special collegial responsibility of the bishop to be at prayer for and with fellow colleagues,” the paper said.
“This is particularly relevant for those bishops who are in conflict with one another. Their failure to attend fervently to this ordinal vow weakens the body of Christ for which they have responsibility. This in turn weakens the bonds that all the baptised share with one another.”
The paper, written by the Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission, represents the start of the fightback by Dr Williams, who has been accused of showing inadequate leadership.
The paper may have been seen "only by The Times," but much of the phrasing of the document Gledhill quotes dates back to the commission's document from 2006, The Anglican Way: The Significance of the Episcopal Office for the Communion of the Church.
By Jim Naughton
I had lunch yesterday with the illustrious Simon Sarmiento, founder and keeper of “Thinking Anglicans,” the most influential blog covering the Anglican Communion. We strolled from my hotel to an establishment called the Hereford Arms, which I considered the very picture of an English pub, and which Simon said was tricked up to make me think so.
We talked for almost three hours, which is a lot of Diet Pepsi, but after long and frequent email correspondence, and the occasional phone call, it was the first time that Simon and I had actually laid eyes on one another, and there was much to be said.
Thinking Anglicans will pass its fifth anniversary sometime in the next week or so. I would say that it “marks” or better yet “celebrates” its anniversary, but Simon says he is not inclined to mention this milestone on his blog. But that shouldn’t stop readers from seizing the next available thread, this one, perhaps, and showering with encomiums.
Simon was one of two bloggers (at #46) to make the Sunday Telegraph’s list of the fifty most influential Anglicans, and the list occupied much of our conversations. He persuaded me that Bishops Gregory Venables and Michael Nazir Ali did not belong in the Top 10. Venables, Simon says, never even ran his own parish in the United Kingdom and he has done nothing to build up the Communion in the geographically vast and numerically tiny Province of the Southern Cone, his influence, such as it is, flows entirely from poaching evangelical parishes in other provinces. He is opportunistic, not influential. Nazir-Ali, meanwhile, is distrusted by most of his colleagues in the British episcopacy who regard him as a self-promoter—visible yes, influential no.
Simon also persuaded me that Lucy Winkett of St. Paul’s Cathedral here in London deserved her spot on the list. I had argued against including her. This was largely because I didn’t know who she was, and part of my job, as the only not-a-Brit on the panel was to underline (figuratively) every person proposed for the list whose influence did not extend beyond English shores. But if Simon says someone is a real up and comer who is likely to be among the first female bishops in the English church, that’s good enough for me. The Rev. Winkett is preaching at one of the Inclusive church liturgies at Canterbury, and I am now officially eager to hear her.
Simon is especially good at helping Americans understand how the British political context (secular and ecclesial) differs from their own. The Guardian ran a lengthy profile yesterday of Tory party leader David Cameron, who may well be the next Prime Minister. In it Cameron described himself as a typical member of the Church of England, “racked with doubts, but fundamentally, we believe.”
There is no anti-gay political party in the United Kingdom, Simon said. There are no votes in gay bashing, no advantage in campaigning to repeal the still-young laws that permit civil unions. The English Church, unlike its American counterpart, is not at the forefront of a movement to extend human and civil rights to persecuted people; the state has already done that, and so the sense of moral urgency is not nearly as great.
Simon and I will see each other again during the conference, possibly on Saturday when he is coming to help explain the British news media to American activists at the conference.
After lunch I went for a long and not particularly fast run in Hyde Park, which is about half a mile up Gloucester Road from my hotel. It was my first real exercise since leaving home. I’d like to say that as I ran I had deep thoughts about the nature of the Anglican Communion, but mostly what I thought about was how nice it was to have grassy running paths beside the paved bike paths.
This afternoon, I am supposed to have lunch with Jonathan Wynne-Jones of the Sunday Telegraph. He is one of the handful of British religion writers who hasn’t headed out to Canterbury yet. Keep in mind as you read stories about what is or isn’t included in the packets that the bishops received at registration yesterday, or what the Pope is or isn’t going to do about the Anglo-Catholic faction in the Church of England, that almost nothing has happened at the conference proper to this point, and reporters have to find stories where they can. The bishops are on retreat now, and very difficult to get in touch with, so the stories lie on the periphery.
I head out to Canterbury on Friday morning, but may try to file one more dispatch before I leave. My sense, at the moment (and from a distance) is that the Anglican Communion Office and some members of the conference design team are nervous that the attention paid to Bishop Gene Robinson, and the presence of full inclusion advocacy groups will somehow force the bishops to focus sooner than might be helpful on the issue of human sexuality—that the bishops will have to deal with divisive topics, before they have built the relationships that would allow them to discuss such issues productively. I think these fears are misplaced.
The advocates of full inclusion want the Communion to hang together every bit as much as the members of the Communion office. They aren’t in Canterbury to disrupt the conference; they are there to worship and pray at build relationships—just like the bishops. Most of their activity leading up to Lambeth has been aimed not at influencing the conference, but at outing the English Church—making it plain that the posture of church elites, who stand apart and cluck their tongues at the activists from North America, is hypocritical because their own church does in shadow, what the North Americans want done in sunlight. Thanks to the publicity that followed the gay blessing ceremony at St. Bartholomew’s Church here in London last month, and the tremendous outpouring of interest in (and support for) Bishop Robinson’s visit, that has been accomplished. The leaders of the English Church may continue to obfuscate, but we will all know what they are doing.
A peaceful, productive Lambeth Conference is in the best interest of inclusion advocates. It would demonstrate that theological disagreements can be borne by a Communion committed to moving forward in mission.
The Church of England has issued a press release on the opening of the Lambeth Conference:
The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams opened the Lambeth Conference to the sounds of South African Alleluias and prayers for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He spoke to the gathering of Anglican Bishops from around the world addressing the first plenary session of the Lambeth Conference yesterday (July 16). He stressed that the Conference had a very strong emphasis on drawing together round the Bible and had been designed as a place “in which every voice can be heard and in which we build Christian relationship”.
The Rev. Canon Marilyn McCord Adams of Christ Church, Oxford gave a paper at the recently completed Modern Churchpeople's Union Conference.
In the paper she highlights the history of the current covenant process and its status right now, showing it to be a structural and diplomatic attempt to solve a theological problem. It provides a detailed chronology of the development of the St. Andrew's Draft and the inherent weaknesses of the approach for the Communion.
The whole matter may be moot after GAFCON anyway because the FOCA group, she argues, have cut the legs out of any structural or diplomatic solution that a covenant may propose.
Here are excerpts:
The SAD Situation
The St. Andrew’s Draft Covenant (hereafter SAD) is a very sorry document, and it comes at a very sorry time. SAD is the third in a series of official attempts to redefine the Anglican Communion in a way that would satisfy members scandalized by the events of Summer 2003. Recall (it seems ancient history now) how in July 2003, the General Covention of the Episcopal Church USA consented to the ordination of Gene Robinson, a coupled gay man, as bishop of New Hampshire. About the same time, the diocese of New Westminster in the Anglican Church of Canada authorized rites for blessing same-sex partnerships. These events stirred a furor among sex-and-gender conservatives in the Anglican Communion. The Archbishop of Canterbury (hereafter ABC) responded by appointing the Windsor Commission. The (by now infamous) Windsor Report (hereafter TWR) set down the basic polity frame.
"TWR polity does not work."
Not only has TWR-polity been set down on paper three times. Thanks to TWR’s tone of presumptive legitimacy, it has already had ‘a trial run’! The Windsor process against TEC and New Westminster gave TWR-polity a primate-dominant interpretation. If TWR spoke of submitting novelties to the instruments of (comm)union, it was the primates who acted at Dromantine to request that TEC and New Westminster explain themselves at Nottingham and to put TEC and New Westminster on probation. It was the primates who acted at Tanzania to override the report of the Joint Standing Committee and to reject 2006 General Convention’s responses to TWR. It was the primates who issued ultimata that TEC impose moratoria on ordinations and blessings of coupled homosexuals by 30 September 2007. It was the primates who declared foreign incursions (by one province into the turf of another) not to be on a moral par with North American breeches of faith. It was the primates who moved to set up a primatial council to handle appeals from TEC’s conscientious objectors. Even after the Joint Standing Committee had given TEC a passing grade for its New Orleans responses, it was the primates’ estimates that the ABC still sought. Thus interpreted in the enacting, TWR-polity seemed to mean veto power for foreign primates in no way accountable to the province in question.
Even as a theoretical sketch, TWR-polity raised liberal eye-brows. Pessimistic liberals believe what experience teaches: that human beings are neither smart enough nor good enough to be entrusted with very much power. Actions speak louder than words. For liberals, the ABC’s and the Primates’ behavior towards TEC demonstrated that their fears were justified. Note once again: legal authority is a red herring. All of these actions have been taken, not only without legal authority, but independently of anyone covenanting to anything. To put it bluntly, the behavior of the pan-Anglican instruments towards TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada has been abusive. For liberals, recent past experience shows signing on to NDC or SAD to be a sure recipe for abuse of power!
For sex-and-gender conservatives, the North American saga shows the bankruptcy of TWR-polity for settling intra-communion disagreements over essentials. From their point of view, the process did not deliver the desired result: the repentance or excommunication of TEC and New Westminster. Sex-and-gender conservative primates number among the just under half who rejected TEC’s New Orleans responses as unsatisfactory. From their point of view, the ABC fudged the process, just when it should have proceeded towards excommunication. In the face of division among the primates, the ABC did not call a Primates Meeting. Neither did he proceed towards excommunication on his own authority. Instead, the ABC changed the format of Lambeth from that of a resolution-passing council into a retreat with small group Bible studies and discussions, and proceeded to invite all of the TEC bishops except for Gene Robinson himself. Recent past experience proves to sex-and-gender conservatives that TWR-polity --which leaves with the ABC power to determine Anglican Communion membership, power to call Primates’ meetings or not, and power to determine the composition of the Lambeth Conference--is unfit for purpose. TWR-polity simply does not work!
GAFCON buries SAD
In any event, the ABC’s plea for patience is not apt to be heeded. GAFCON’s manifesto, not only buries SAD. By ‘upping the ante’ for any covenant ‘confessing Anglicans’ would sign, GAFCON’s concluding statement is a recipe for ‘walking apart’. The reason is that GAFCON is insisting on conservative polity and conservative content. Conservatives can live with liberal polity so long as they have the majorities needed to dictate institutional policy. The current crisis arose, because in The Episcopal Church and New Westminster, sex-and-gender conservatives have lost such majorities. Liberals can live with conservative content, if liberal polity holds out hope of working from within to change institutional policy. Liberals have lived with conservative sex-and-gender policies for centuries, but now--in TEC and New Westminster--their hour seems to have come. The trouble is conservatives cannot live with liberal polity and liberal content. Neither can liberals live with conservative polity and conservative content. GAFCON’s clear lines in the sand already count liberals out!
You may read the whole text here.
By Jim Naughton
To succeed fully, the bishops of the Lambeth Conference must avoid committing news. Any truly newsworthy development initiated by the bishops now gathered at Canterbury would represent a premature attempt to close questions not yet ready for resolution. Left to their own devices, the bishops might just be able to pull this off, but the bishops will not be left to their own devices. There will be a vast horde of media at the conference, and they will have to justify their presence by coming up with stories.
Unfortunately, a well run conference at which the bishops worship together, share from the heart in small Bible study groups, attend first-rate educational programs and begin the difficult work of figuring out how our theologically divided Communion can begin to move forward in mission—not to mention time set aside during the conference for solitude and private reflection—puts readers to sleep and does little to justify the expense that media outlets incur in sending reporters to Canterbury in the first place. Additionally, as all reporters know, editors have a tendency to hold them personally responsible if the event they are covering doesn’t yield good copy—the notion being that there are no dull events, only dull reporters. Finally, if you are at a competitive daily paper, there is also the status of your beat to think about. You don’t want your colleagues thinking that religion is a backwater beat for backwater hacks.
So stories must be wrung from the Lambeth Conference, and the wringing must commence as soon as a critical mass of bishops have assembled on the grounds of the University of Kent. One reporter I spoke to today described the atmosphere among the press at Canterbury as akin to an episode of Gossip Girl. Someone puts a thinly sourced item on their blog. Everyone else whispers among themselves: Where did it come from? Is it true? If it is true, do you try to match it? If it isn’t true, do you say so, or let it slide?
I have tremendous sympathy for reporters who function in many instances as the public’s surrogates. I am someone whose phone rings when information from official sources is scarce. Yet there is a difference between the public’s right to know and a reporter’s right to a compelling story. My concern for the Lambeth Conference is that a critical mass of reporters—or perhaps just a handful of influential ones—will deem the conference a failure if it does not produce the sort of stories that they want to write, that they will say so repeatedly in the pages of their papers or on their blogs, and that this perception will become reality.
The only inoculation against this outcome that I can perceive—outside of an unexpected outbreak of forbearance from the British press—are vivid daily media briefings that feature bishops with good gripping stories to tell about how the conference’s theme of the day figures in their lives and ministries, and the lives and ministries of their people.
I should be in Canterbury by about noon EDT, and will try to keep you updated on how those briefings progress. Over the next two or three days, be wary of stories purporting to expose secret goings-on, or those that complain of conference policies that keep the media at a distance. There just isn't that much going on yet.
Over the past couple of days there have been a number of stories about the "The Lambeth Reader" papers. These were distributed to the bishops attending the Lambeth Conference, but not made available to the larger public. Copies of the documents have been passed along to reporters covering the conference. The Church Times blog has some extended quotes in its overnight coverage.
The most striking thing about the articles are that, while they discuss the difficulties being caused to the Communion by the actions of the North American provinces to move to fully include gay and lesbian Christians, they also speak directly to the problems being caused by Provinces moving to send bishops to minister in areas outside their boundaries:
"‘There are occasions when a church falls out of sympathy with its bishop on matters of doctrine or conduct. It must not be the case that the mere fact of ease and communication of travel become the excuse for choosing a leader in another territory to be one’s chief pastor. In the case of serious and extensive conflict, it becomes the duty of diocesan bishops to provide pastoral support in particular congregations. When a diocesan bishop fails to undertake his duty, the matter becomes a provincial responsibility.’
(NB: a provincial responsibility, not a communion responsibility.)
Reflections offered to the Primates emphasise mutual accountability. ‘The cost of genuine dialogue is considerable... If conservative voices are not to be driven out, it must be possible for an admonition about recent issues to do with homosexuality to be delivered, clearly argued from biblical sources. Not all such arguments are well expressed and would be supported by scholarly writing; but it is a mistake to dismiss all of them as if their sole basis was literalism or naive fundamentalism.’
The paper continues: ‘On the other hand, if progressive views are not to be ignored, new knowledge has honestly to be confronted. Though there is still much uncertainty, it is evident that the existence in some people of homosexual inclinations has to be understood in a way not available to biblical writers. It has to be recognised as a cost of the engagement of the gospel with the world, that Christians remain open to changing ideas with their attendant uncertainties and controversies.’
The paper also includes a willingness to promote the role of the Primates within the Communion and uses Bishop Robinson's consecration as an example:
The documents grapple with how the church judges which things lie closer to the heart of the gospel than others. With specific reference to Gene Robinson’s consecration, it asks how significant that was for Christian faith and practice? If the primates decided it was a matter of great weight, ‘then it would seem that an innovation of such significance requires the broadest consideration and endorsement by the rest of the Anglican Communion.’ If they decided it was neither ‘commanded not forbidden’, then it could be determined at provincial or local level. Primates were not necessarily to be the ‘first port of call in such disputes, but the report suggests, ‘Many are looking to the Primates to hear the call of the churches for the leadership that befits those who hold such a high office.’"
Read the full article here.
Our previous coverage of the Reader is here.
There's been a great deal of interest in determining which provinces of the Anglican Communion are attending the Lambeth Conference and which are boycotting. For the most provinces, including our own, it's a mixed bag with some attending and some boycotting. But Uganda was unique in that none of the bishops of that part of the Communion were attending. Today there's news that Nigeria's lone bishop, thought to be in attendance, has returned home to Nigeria.
Ruth Gledhill is reporting that Bishop Okorocha, who once served as part of the Archbishop of Canterbury's staff under George Carey, thought to be registered and attending the conference, has instead returned home.
According to Ruth's story:
"The only Nigerian bishop to register for Lambeth, Cyril Okorocha, Bishop of Owerri, has fled Britain and gone back home for fear of 'reprisals', a source has told The Times."
Read the full article here.
Some background, and our previous mention of this is found here.
The primates who are expected to serve on the Primate's Council of the GAFCON movement have issued a response to the Archbishop of Canterbury's concerns about the GAFCON communique and a critique of the present form of the proposed Anglican Covenant has also been posted.
They respond to a number of the questions the Archbishop raised in his letter, including the Uniqueness of Christ, Legitimacy, Discipline, and Faith and False Teaching.
Their response to the Archbishop on the question of authority for instance reads:
"On authority. As the Virginia Report notes, in the Anglican tradition, authority is not concentrated in a single centre, but rather across a number of persons and bodies. This Council is a first step towards bringing greater order to the Communion, both for the sake of bringing long overdue discipline and as a reforming initiative for our institutions.
Whilst we respect territoriality, it cannot be absolute. For missionary and pastoral reasons there have long been overlapping jurisdictions in Anglicanism itself – historically in South Africa, New Zealand, the Gulf and Europe. In situations of false teaching, moreover, it has sometimes been necessary for other bishops to intervene to uphold apostolic faith and order."
Read the full statement here.
Additionally, the GAFCON Theological Resource Team has released a statement criticizing the St. Andrew's Draft of the proposed Covenant stating in part that:
Sadly this new draft of An Anglican Covenant is both seriously limited and severely flawed. Whether or not the tool of covenant is the right way to approach the crisis within the Communion, this document is defective and its defects cannot be corrected by piecemeal amendment because they are fundamental. The St. Andrews Draft is theologically incoherent and its proposals unworkable. It has no prospect of success since it fails to address the problems which have created the crisis and the new realities which have ensued.
The bishops and stewards who set up blogs before the conference have been conscientious in keeping up with the discipline of regular posts.
The bishops attending the conference are still on retreat so there's little "news" to report. Most of what they are writing about is the impressions that praying in the midst of such diversity and in such ancient surroundings are causing in them.
But occasionally the stresses and uncomfortable conversations that are ahead still manage to make themselves known.
Bishop Councell of New Jersey reports on his own emotional reaction to Bishop Robinson's absence.
Bishop Whalon of the Churches in Europe finds hope though:
The hard work, however, has already begun in the Bible study groups, from all reports. People are not here to “play nice.” We have all come “to make straight the way of the Lord” in our Communion (studying John 1). What that means and what that will take remain to be seen. Tonight I have a growing sense of hope. There are a lot more bishops here than were expected...
Bishop Roskam of NY has her thoughts on what might be accomplished in the coming weeks. And a realistic sense that even this would only be the beginning.
Bishop Alan Wright has some insights into how the Indaba groups will work... or at least how they're supposed to work.
Bishop Kirk Smith has movies!
By Jim Naughton
Herb Gunn and I managed to get ourselves from London to Dover yesterday, and thanks to Ruth Frey we managed to get ourselves and our rented cars from Dover to Canterbury. We arrived on the University of Kent campus late in the afternoon, picked up our credentials, checked out the sparsely populated press room, and walked around lost for a bit before connecting with a few folks who I will write more about in a later dispatch. I saw Bishop John Chane and his wife Karen, and chatted with Bishop Tom Ely of Vermont on the telephone. They have been impressed with the conference's opening retreat, led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, which concludes today at noon. Conversations among bishops, they say, are earnest and collegial. They seem to be having a good experience, and to be mildly surprised by that.
(This article in the Independent gets the mood right, I think.)
The fact that more than a dozen bishops are here against the wishes of their Primates has necessitated certain precautions, however. One bishop told me that participants in the conference will not process by province into Sunday’s Eucharist as is customary, but will simply choose a partner for the procession, thus making it harder for onlookers to identify bishops who might find themselves in trouble once home. Although I can't put a figure on it, a significant number of the bishops who attended GAFCON are also here, which makes the notion that recent GAFCON releases speak for that whole gathering rather dubious. What we are hearing, as usual, are the voices of white Westerners who purport to speak for Africans, but whose movement has done nothing to improve the average African Anglican's life.
After checking in at the Inclusive Church Network’s communications center at St. Stephen’s Church, which sits at the foot of a hill about a mile east of the campus, Herb, Ruth and I set out for dinner with Clare Herbert of Inclusive Church and Brenda Harrison of Changing Attitude, UK. They have spent much of the last few days either preparing the communications center, planning Sunday afternoon’s Integrity/Changing Attitude Eucharist, or preparing the Inclusive Church Network stalls in the Lambeth Marketplace, which opens for business on Monday.
On the way to dinner I spotted Bishop Jon Bruno and several other gentlemen wearing the purple lanyards given to bishops and their spouses on St. Dunstan’s Avenue. Bishop Bruno frequently moves at the head of a squad of other bishops at these sort of Church gatherings. Bishop Gene Robinson is in town, although I haven’t seen him yet, and probably won’t until the Integrity/CA Eucharist on Sunday. Seeing a few members of Gene’s small travelling party, and catching the tail end of a piece that ITV did on a lecture he gave earlier today, I was reminded of a story that I’ve been remiss in not writing earlier. A necessary vagueness will diminish the story, but I think it is worth telling just the same.
X, as I am going to call him or her, is a young person with a degenerative nerve disease. I first caught sight of X at Gene's sermon at St. Mary’s, Putney on Sunday. X was there again on Monday night for Gene’s appearance with Sir Ian McKellen at the British premier of For the Bible Tells Me So. I later learned from a member of X’s parish that X is very devout and very active in the parish, as is X’s family. Not long ago, X came out, to friends and family, as a member of the GLBT community—a difficult moment in any life, compounded by the complications of X’s nerve disease.
Gene has been a beacon for X, the member of X’s parish told me. The fact that he is both proudly Christian and proudly gay has helped keep X in the Church. And remaining in the Church, a lifelong source of hope and comfort has given X strength for an extremely difficult journey. I spent several years as a sportswriter, and have profiled a few handfuls of famous people during my journalistic career. I am familiar with the look on fans’ faces when they meet their heroes. I saw that look on X’s face on Sunday when X had a chance to spend a few private minutes with Gene after his sermon at Putney. Excitement, admiration and gratitude passed in waves over X’s young face, but X wasn’t so star struck as to make conversation impossible. This wasn’t just a matter to getting an autograph, or shaking a celebrity’s hand—it was putting one’s self in a pastor’s hands, and trusting him to take good care of you. I don’t know what Gene and X talked about, but I know that X among the first to arrive for the movie premiere the following evening.
X and others like X remain in the church, or come into the church because they believe they can trust a church that counts Gene among its leaders. When you consider the issue of gay bishops, and same sex relationships it may be helpful to think not of Gene, or Susan Russell, or the other great advocates for the cause of GLBT people in the church. Think of X and all the people in X’s position, people who long to feel the love of God and experience the support of their Church, but who can feel neither, in most of the Anglican Communion, unless they deny who they are or accept the notion that the God who smiles upon heterosexual intimacy has created them for a lifetime of celibacy.
To argue against gay bishops and gay clergy is to argue against a Church that can reach out effectively to people like X. It is to argue that the good Gene has done in this person’s life is outweighed by the necessity of preserving a bitterly contested interpretation of the Scriptures. It is to argue that God endorses the concept of acceptable casualties, and is not troubled if X, and others like X, are among them.
Rowan Williams' stock is enjoying at least a brief rally on the Anglican market. The retreat format with which the Lambeth Conference began showed him at his best, offering lucid and compelling Scriptural meditations, and calling the bishops to mutual accountability.
If the generally optimistic mood here survives the weekend, look for a high profile conservative bishop to attempt to pour water on it in the press.
Folks who have seen the 20-minute outtake of Voices of Witness--Africa, the documentary that that Katie Sherrod and Cynthia Black have made about GLBT life in Anglican Africa, are extremely excited about it. I am eager to have a look.
Every now and then I wonder at the logic of preventing Gene Robinson from doing what gay vicars all over England are doing--celebrating the Eucharist. It is as though the English church has decided that being a gay bishop is somehow a greater impediment to consecrating the elements than being a gay priest. I need a sacramental theologian to unpack that for me.
One of the Church of England’s most senior bishops has compared the consecration of a gay bishop in America to the invasion of Iraq. Tom Wright, the bishop of Durham and the fourth most senior in the English hierarchy, said both events showed Americans were prepared to act “how they please” with disregard for the rest of the world.
By Jim Naughton
Bishop Tom Wright last night compared his inability to find a parking space near his home to the firebombing of Dresden. Wright represents an influential block of bishops who believe that the Anglican Communion may fall into schism because its prelates are insufficiently solipsistic.
“Just the other day, this woman with a flock of children left her Land Rover right in front of my house,” Wright said, in an interview with the Café. “She knew exactly what she was doing, but she went ahead and did it. I liken it to engulfing a citizen population in massive cloud of billowing flames, don’t you?”
Wright, whose reputation as a Scripture scholar stands him in good stead during his frequent forays against various adversaries, said he has petitioned the city of Durham for a personal parking place, but to no avail.
“I’ve considered pursuing it further,” he said, over lunch at an Iraqi restaurant, “but there’s this terrible business with the dry cleaners. If they are going to shrink a man’s waistbands they may as well just fill a ferry boat with babies and sink it in the Channel. It comes to the same thing.”
Pushing himself back from the table, the bishop eyed a plate a marinated olives and shook his head. “Putting a dish like this in front of a man is rather like running an oil tanker aground in a wildlife sanctuary, don’t you think? Or herding innocent people into rat-infested jail cells where they feed on roaches and sleep in puddles of their own urine.”
Wright will offer a session on moral reasoning at the Lambeth Conference next week. “Originally I was intending to explore experiences of exile,” he said. “For instance, I missed a connecting flight on a recent vacation, and as I sat there stewing in the departure lounge, what should come to mind but the Lost Boys of the Sudan. Do you see it? My experience was their experience, only without the international outcry.”
Eventually, however, Wright settled on another topic. “As Christians we are called to share one another’s burdens,” he said, “and I am not getting the help I deserve."
“We have yet to explore the myriad ways in which this is about me.”
By Jim Naughton
The sight of rank after rank of bishops processing out of the center doors of Canterbury’s ancient cathedral is simultaneously moving and absurd. Africans, Asians, Latin Americans, Indians, Australians, Americans—even Englishmen—rolled in red and white-clad pairs out of the shadowed portal and into the early afternoon sunshine to the sounds of choir, organ, and several dozen clattering cameras.
After the first hundred rochet and chimere-wearing rows, there was a momentary break in the procession, and the press suspected for a moment, that it was time to move on. But then, out of the dim cathedral interior came a verger in purple and gray, followed by more bishops, and more bishops. It is regrettable that some 200 bishops have chosen to boycott the conference, but if all 880 had shown up, we might still be there.
The English and Asian press were keen for a picture of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, but she was talking with a fellow primate as they came through the door, and wouldn’t turn away from the conversation no matter how frequently they called her name. Then a sudden breeze swept the other primate’s biretta off of his head and directly toward the photographers. Both bishops bolted, laughing, to retrieve it. Then, their conversation interrupted, they posed with several of their colleagues, proving that God answers photographers’ prayers.
I didn’t get a ticket to the opening Eucharist—in fact, I didn’t try, but some friends in the press cribbed some quotes for me from the sermon [video here] by Bishop Duleep de Chickera of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Here is what struck me as the key quote,
“There is space equally for everyone and anyone regardless of color, gender, ability or sexual orientation. If we attempt some game of uprooting the unrighteous, then my sisters and brothers, none of us will remain."
One bishop suggested a certain “incongruity” between word and action. Even the music spoke of inclusion. The refrain of the Communion Hymn, Let Us Build a House Where Love Can Dwell, began: “All are welcome; all are welcome; all are welcome…”
Leaving aside the fact that admission to the Eucharist required a ticket, Bishop Gene Robinson was obviously unwelcome. He isn’t even being allowed to attend a meeting of the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops being held during the conference.
During the opening press conference George Conger of the Church of England Newspaper asked an extremely perceptive question about Robinson’s exclusion. The Archbishop of Canterbury, he noted, had described the ecumenical visitors to Canterbury as “full participants” in the Lambeth Conference whose differing theologies would challenge the bishops and deepen their conversations. Given that the Salvation Army does not baptize, and the Armenian church holds what Anglicans might consider an unorthodox understanding of the nature of Christ, does Bishop Robinson’s exclusion signal that the issue of homosexuality is more theologically significant than sacramental and Christological differences?
Archbishop Phillip Aspinall of Australia, the conference’s chief spokesman, had no real answer. He was joined on the dais at the opening press conference by two members of the Lambeth Conference Design Team, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of South Africa and Professor Ian Douglas of Episcopal Divinity School.
Aspinall was at pains to dispel the notion that the conference was designed to sweep differences among members of the Communion under the carpet. Rather, he said, participants would have more opportunities to discuss the issues confronting the Communion in more productive settings than they had at the resolution-drive Lambeth Conference of 1998.
Citing the “Manichean” press coverage preceding the event, John Burns of The New York Times asked Aspinall whether the purpose of the conference was to avert a schism. Aspinall said that the Lambeth Conference always confronted whatever issues were before the Communion whenever it was held, and that this conference was no different.
He said that he discerned “an overwhelming commitment to the life of the Communion among those who are here.”
The Eucharist and press conference ran late, and I arrived at the Integrity/Changing Attitude Eucharist on the village green near St. Stephen’s Church just as the Rev. Colin Coward began the Eucharistic prayer. Some 160 worshipers were arrayed on the grass before an elevated stage. The Cathedral’s towers served as a backdrop. Bishop Robinson and his partner Mark Andrew were in the crowd, as were 32 other bishops. I missed the Rev. Susan Russell’s sermon, but I am sure it will be on her blog, soon. I think more people, and certainly more bishops would have made it to Integrity’s Eucharist if the opening Eucharist had not run late. A number of bishops with special roles in the conference had to attend briefings after the Eucharist, and couldn’t get to the green on time.
While talking to the press on the green I learned that Bishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone and some others had not taken communion at the Eucharist. This strikes me as very poor theology. I’d take the Eucharist with a congregation full of murderers, not as an endorsement of their worth, but as an acknowledgment of my need. To willfully reject an opportunity to receive the body and blood of Christ because you have theological disagreements with other members of the congregation seems an act of incredible spiritual pride. In pursuing the strategy, Venables asserts his right to pass judgment on the guest list for the Lord’s Supper, a meal at which he himself is a guest.
As I don’t think he is a theological ignoramus, I suspect he did it to have something to say to the BBC. I am all in favor of him pursuing a strategy that focuses attention on his own bad behavior.
The Integrity/CA Eucharist was covered by two crews from the BBC—both of whom interviewed Bishop Bruce Caldwell of Wyoming—and several reporters from the Times of London. John Burns also conducted a few interviews, but I don’t know whether he is writing for tomorrow or not.
It’s 6:30 here in Canterbury and time to move on to our new accommodations, a farm house 25 minutes east of the city where we will stay for the rest of the conference. Tomorrow the Archbishop of Canterbury will brief the media at 1:30; BBC2 will air a documentary on the conflict in the Communion (that includes an interview with Bishop John Bryson Chane) at 7 p. m., I think, and Brian McLaren, internationally know evangelist, and friend of the Diocese of Washington, will give the evening plenary address.
I hope to return to a more impressionistic, less journalistic style tomorrow, but today seemed to call for a quasi-comprehensive sort of approach.
The official press release about Archbishop Rowan Williams opening remarks to the first full plenary session of the Lambeth Conference can be found here. A PDF version of the full address can also be found there. Episcopal Life reports on the worship service here, including these reactions to the sermon by Bishop Duleep de Chickera:
After the service, Bishop Neil Alexander of Atlanta said he was "particularly moved" by de Chickera's sermon since it "lifted your soul," however, Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh said the inclusion of the chant was "very, very troubling" since it was an "invocation of something other than the God we know."
This video offers a first look at "Voices of Witness: Africa", a new film by Integrity USA that offers stories of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians in Africa. It will premiere at the Lambeth Conference on July 23rd at 8 p.m. in Keynes Lecture Theatre 1.
Ruth Gledhill was given a preview of the film and her brief interview of film editor Katie Sherrod is at the start of the clip above. Here are her observations after seeing the film:
The result is an incredibly powerful and moving film which is to be sent to every one of the 880 bishops in the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion.
. . .
The stories include a transgendered male-to-female Nigerian, a partnered lesbian activist in Uganda, a transgendered male-to-female Ugandan, a Kenyan who was abused along with his twin brother by an uncle, a gay Ugandan farmer, gay partners in Kenya who dream of having their union blessed and a gay Nigerian who was beaten badly simply for being gay.
Considering the penalties in Africa for being actively gay - in Uganda it carries a life sentence - these people must be applauded for their bravery.
There can be no doubt that the Anglican Communion is moving in the direction of inclusivity. With barely 100 conservative bishops here in Canterbury and 230 boycotting the conference, the conservative voice is unlikely to prevail.
Read it all here.
The full video, "Voices of Witness: Africa", be found at the Integrity USA blog.
What is on the hearts and minds of the blogging bishops during their time in Canterbury at the Lambeth Conference? Deep and not so deep thoughts are being shared across the blogosphere in these few weeks. Some are mastering technology with only a few lessons before leaving their trusty media officers. Some are still challenged. Following are few “outtakes” found in the Feed (see below for more) that links many of the bishops’ offerings.
By Jim Naughton
With so little happening, the media is parsing trivialities. It turns out that the purportedly Buddhist chant with which the Right Reverend Duleep de Chickera, the Bishop of Colombo, concluded his sermon at yesterday's opening Eucharist was actually a profession of faith in the Trinity chanted in what struck many listeners as a Buddhist fashion. [Video of sermon here.]
The fact that Bishop Tom Wright processed in a purple cassock was not some obscure sort of protest, against the presence of the Episcopal Church at the conference, but the result of his rochet and chimere being lost in transit.
The rumor of the morning is that some new draft of the covenant will be unveiled at a news conference at 1 p. m., but I can't find a mainstream reporter who believes this is credible. The question reporters are asking me this morning is whether I know how the conference is being paid for.
Simon Sarmiento has arrived and Thinking Anglican's round-up of yesterday's coverage in the English press is this morning's must-read.
By Jim Naughton
Archbishop Rowan Williams met the press this morning in a facility know as the Missing Link building, and unlike Saturday’s “interview” with Tom Wright, I did not make that up. He answered one of the key questions put to him with great clarity, another with evasion, and a third with intriguing nuance.
The first question Williams faced after some brief opening remarks was what message he would send to the conservative bishops who have boycotted the conference, and is their absence a sign that the Communion will soon splinter.
To the first part of the question Williams responded: “We’re sorry you’re not here.” He said the presence of Archbishops Peter Akinola of Nigeria, Henry Orombi of Uganda and others would have been “a healing and helpful thing,” but “also a difficult thing.”
To the second part of the question he uttered what might be the sound bite of the day: “If this is the end of the Anglican Communion, I don’t think anybody has told most of the people here.”
Update: The briefing paper in question has been removed from the Gafcon site.
[As far as we know, the primates of West Africa and Tanzania are at Lambeth.]
Pat Ashworth at the Church Times Blog:
He was diplomatic about it, but it was clearly vexing to the Archbishop of the Southern Cone, Greg Venables, that he had neither seen nor agreed the published response to the St Andrew’s draft Covenant, issued by GAFCON on Friday in his name and those of the Primates of Nigeria, West Africa, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda....
The Indaba groups began meeting Monday to explore their commonalities as Anglican bishops. Most, but not all, of the bishops who blog seem to feel positive about the experience of listening to one another although there are some who dominate their small groups - not a surprise to anyone who has been a part of any group discussion. Hope and honest sharing are the two themes from today.
By Jim Naughton
The news of the morning lies in the Conference organizer’s unwillingness to disclose the names of the bishops in attendance. This is presumed to be an effort to shield bishops from provinces boycotting the conference from reprisals when they return home. A few bishops are on hand, I don’t know exactly how many, but I’d say enough to man one side of a full court game of basketball, but probably not enough to man both.
The rest of my report consists primarily of whispers and impressions.
fourth version, includes response from Bishop Robinson's spokesman
By Jim Naughton
The Primate of the Church of the Sudan, the Most Rev. Daniel Deng called on the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson to resign to preserve the unity of the Anglican Communion.
“God is not making a mistake creating Adam and Eve,” Deng said, asserting that homosexual activity contradicted Biblical teaching. “He would have created two Adams if he wanted.”
Deng said Robinson’s resignation would allow the bishops who are not at the Lambeth Conference to reconcile with the Communion. He claimed to speak for 150 bishops from 17 provinces who had held a meeting during the conference.
By Jim Naughton
The afternoon press conference--held before the interview with Sudan's Primate Daniel Deng, which will bump it out of all of tomorrow's papers--featured the Rt. Rev. Sebastian Bakare of Harare in Zimbabwe. He spoke of the persecution of his church by the regime of Robert Mugabe. Bakare succeeded the deposed Mugabe-supporter, Nolbert Kunonga, who was kept in office by the former primate of Central Africa, Bernard Malango, whom the Archbishop of Canterbury appointed to the panel that produced the Windsor Report.
Everyday life at the Lambeth Conference is settling into the bishop blogosphere. After the "high" of Sunday's services and the beginning of what is called ordinary time - only the most committed blogging bishops seem to be posting today.
By Jim Naughton
Archbishop Daniel Deng's call for the resignation of Bishop Gene Robinson today surprised many of his friends and colleagues in the Episcopal Church because the Sudanese Church has extensive relationships with Episcopal dioceses and parishes, and openly gay clergy and lay people are active in these relationships.
Yesterday, the Episcopal Church of Sudan urged the Episcopal Church to suspend all litigation against breakaway churches attempting to leave the denomination but maintain possession of the parish property. Their call has an ironic twist, as is evident in the latest newsletter of the American Friends of the Episcopal Church of Sudan. (See pages 10-11.)
In brief, the Episcopal Church of Sudan lost control of its guesthouse to the Reformed Episcopal Church of the Sudan. The RECS said that it broke from the ECS because the ECS condoned homosexuality. The guesthouse was then sold to a Sudanese corporation. The Episcopal Church of Sudan sued. In March, it won. An Episcopal church in Virginia, and members of American Friends of the Church of Sudan helped pay for the lawsuit.
Since its beginning, it seems that every Lambeth Conference has had its boycotters and non-attendees. A report from Ecumenical News International says, "When the first Lambeth Conference opened in 1867, only 76 of the Anglican Communion's 144 bishops accepted an invitation by the Archbishop of Canterbury to attend because of disagreement among them about the way the church was shaping-up in British colonies."
The impetus for the 1867 meeting came from the Anglican Church in Canada, concerned about the activities of the British-born bishop of Natal in South Africa, John Colenso. He was tolerating polygamy among African converts to Christianity, and questioning traditional doctrines about the Eucharist and eternal punishment.
HT to Ekklesia.
What is new is blogging bishops.
UPDATED: 7 p.m. EDT
Tomorrow the bishops are off to London see The Queen, have tea and some will March for the MDGs. Living in a dormitory far from home, interacting all day with other bishops seems to have made a few a bit edgy. Today some have remarks about the statement of Archbishop Deng of Sudan, others comment on the discussions of the Covenant, and one is still missing his luggage.
Episcopal Life Online has a good summary of the day three, including the Windsor Continuation group, and on American reactions to Archbishop Deng's statement on Bishop Robinson. ELO reports the focus of the day was global poverty.
Coverage of day 3 at the official Lambeth Conference website includes the other statement from Sudan (complete statement below) -- on the crisis is Sudan. Check out the Lambeth Daily.
The BBC gives a foretaste of what Rowan Williams will say Thursday in Central London at the bishops march against global poverty.
Addendum: Thinking Anglicans has a roundup of news reports.
Today the bishops at the Lambeth Conference travel to London to march through London calling upon world leaders to take action on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Led by the Archbishop of Canterbury they hope to witness to the urgent needs of the world. The ABC will present a letter (see below) to UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Over 1500 religious leaders, politicians, and charity leaders will join the Archbishop in the witness.
By Jim Naughton
Today felt a bit like a Saturday for those of us who did not accompany the bishops into London for their walk through the streets to call attention to the plight of the world’s poor. My house mates and I had lunch in a village pub near the house where we are staying about 10 miles east of Canterbury. Afterwards I drove to the town of Sandwich where I spent half an hour exploring its narrow streets in search of a dry cleaners shop. Turns out he’s on vacation. Now I am sitting in the Sandwich Library, availing myself of its Wi-fi to file a few random notes.
There's a pattern developing at Lambeth, and it's not a pretty one. On the day which was to focus on poverty and violence in Sudan, that message was snowed over by the call from Sudan's bishops for Bishop Robinson to resign, and for property disputes to end. Archbishop Deng said he was speaking for many conservative bishops throughout the Anglican Communion. That pattern is repeated today.
Bishops' blogs today feature the London field trip, comments on the March, the Lambeth lunch, the Queen's tea, bishops and spouses melting in the English sun, as well as some followup on controversies in Canterbury, and the news, noted here, that +Bob Duncan, Pittsburgh is leaving the Conference.
updated most recently at 9:20 a .m., EDT, to include quotes from Archbishop Williams and some additional commentary at bottom.
By Jim Naughton
The Windsor Continuation Group has endorsed a strong centralizing agenda that elevates the role of the Primates Meeting, diminishes the influence of the Anglican Consultative Council, and endorses the establishment of an "Anglican Communion Faith and Order Commission." The proposal, which is sure to face stiff resistance, is the strongest signal yet that this important body intends to recommend wide ranging changes in Communion governance.
The Bishop of New Hampshire reports on his meeting with other bishops from around the Anglican Communion this past Wednesday evening. Bishops from six continents were in attendance, many having been personally invited by bishops from the Episcopal Church.
By Jim Naughton
The Primate of Sudan assured five Episcopal bishops today that despite his call for the resignation of Bishop Gene Robinson, he wanted to continue his relationships with dioceses and parishes in the Episcopal Church.
Stephen Colbert's show on Comedy Central is one of those hard-to-characterize media entities that are becoming a major source of news and opinion for an entire generation of Americans. In last night's episode Colbert interviews Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times about the Lambeth Conference.
You can see the full show here.
The bit on the Anglican Communion is teased at the very beginning of the show and then starts to run about 5 minutes in. The full pieces takes about 5 minutes or so to develop.
(NB from your daily editor: this is probably PG or even PG13, so be warned.)
Suzie Whitmore, who is attending the Spouses events at Lambeth, wrote a reflection on what the juxtaposition of the march through London and the reception with the Queen might mean.
After describing the day, and the pagentry, Suzie goes on to observe:
Reports of tension between the media and organizers of the Lambeth Conference inspired longtime Anglican affairs writer Doug LeBlanc to pen the following open letter to Archbishop Rowan Williams:
Bishops are blogging again after a night of rest following a long day in London. 'Indaba is working' is one theme. I wonder if taking the walk/march has something to do with this? At church camp there is nothing quite like a long hike to bring the camp together. There is also the stage of community life where people begin to claim their own authority and rebel against the facilitators- often to good effect.
updated most recently at 4:00 p.m., EDT, to include links to coverage of the press conference on the MDGs
By Jim Naughton
What if they gave a news conference and nobody came? Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, upon whom the press falls with gusto whenever they catch sight of her, was one of the presenters at this afternoon’s press conference, but played to a relatively small crowd, due, in part, to a party being given by the Times of London. Even the press comes up for air.
The Washington Post, writing about Gene Robinson's exclusion from Lambeth, offers some first-person accounts from Robinson, who they say is "a celebrity on a mission":
It's hard to discern from media coverage who thinks what about Friday's developments at Lambeth regarding the Faith and Order Commission--aside from it seeming to be a move toward centralization, which no one is thrilled with. The idea of the Archbishop's office or a select cadre of bishops having more authority sounds eerily like a pope thing, with Ruth Gledhill of the Times going as far as saying it's the first step on a slippery slope an toward Inquisition.
Today was group photo day. Sort of an exercise in Where's Waldo? to pick out one's bishop in the midst of them. One good thing about having fewer bishops who are women (18 of 24 in attendance this year), they are all recognizable in their photo. More reflections on Bible study and Indaba groups as well as the March for the MDGs. What a schedule they keep: up at dawn which is quite early in England this time of year, off to worship, Bible study, Indaba, then plenaries in the evening. Tomorrow, Sunday, is a less busy day, not sure if that will mean more or less bishop blogging.
By Jim Naughton
The Archbishop of Canterbury is on a bit of a roll here at the Lambeth Conference. He has clearly established himself as the undisputed leader of this potentially fractious gathering of bishops, a fact perhaps best attested to by his peers bursting into spontaneous applause on two occassions--first after his presidential address at the opening of the conference, and again yesterday when a photographer asked him to take his place in the front row at the taking of yesterday's 'class picture.'
Brian McLaren, the prominent de facto spokesperson for the emergent church movement, gave a plenary address at Lambeth earlier this week. He writes of his time there:
The bishops' schedule is lighter today. Some are catching up with their blogs and many are reflecting on the experiences of the past week and their hopes for this week. Some have made connections they believe will grow in the future. Click on the bishops' names to read their whole blog.
By Jim Naughton
While we are as eager for eyeballs as the next Web site, we’ve decided that uninteresting statements do not become interesting for being uttered in the context of the Lambeth Conference. So we won’t be filing a report after every press conference, or attempting to read significance into statements made by people who will have no influence over whatever word the bishops assembled for the conference decide to speak.
The Bishop of Botswana, Trevor Mwamba is comfortable with the direction and tone of the Indaba process at Lambeth and says that the Bishops have now gotten in substantial discussions about sexuality and the Communion and the importance of the Millennium Development Goals. Real dialog is taking place and Mwamba is says the issues are too important to fall for an agenda that is handed to Africans from the outside.
updated at 1:35 p.m. ET
By Jim Naughton
The Windsor Continuation Group today called for “the swift formation of a Pastoral Forum at a communion level to engage theologically and practically with situations of controversy as they arise or divisive actions that may be taken around the Communion.”
By Jim Naughton
Updated: 6:45 pm EDT Monday, July 28
Be afraid: some of our bishops think the pastoral forum proposal has a head of steam, that it is what Rowan Williams wants and that he has established the credibility at this conference to get it. They don’t go as far as I am about to, but the implication of their thinking is that the Episcopal Church should prepare to distance itself in some way from the Anglican Communion, or accept some sort of reduced status so as not to a) implode; b) compromise one of the few things that makes us attractive to our rapidly secularizing culture; c) betray our consciences on the issue of full inclusion.
The Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Rev. John Neill, says that the twelve bishops of Ireland have found ways to continue to minister together even as they disagree about the ordination of gays. He tells the Irish Times that he has mellowed his position from opposition and is sorry that Bishop Robinson is not part of the Lambeth Conference.
Speaking to The Irish Times at the Lambeth Conference, Dr John Neill said he "would emphasise that all of us (Irish bishops) feel our positions are compatible with scripture and respect each other's different understanding (of scripture) on the subject".
Dr Neill said he had been "very strongly opposed to gay clergy but over the years I have mellowed a great deal". It had been a similar case where his views on the ordination of women priests were concerned: "As you get older you do see a bigger picture," he said.
As for the consecration of then canon Gene Robinson as bishop in 2003 he felt it was "untimely" but he had been very impressed by an American bishop who had opposed that consecration but had later said to him "now you are going to be a bishop and I am going to work with you".
Dr Neill continued: "And that's the way I feel too. The consecration may have been premature, but once it happened it was proper to recognise him as a bishop of the church. I am just sorry he is not part of this conference.
The Irish Times: Room for differing opinions on gay clergy, says archbishop
There is a sense of some anxiety balanced by hope running through some of the bishops blogs today. Life under the big top and in the small groups has heated up from the warm weather. The Sabbath rest was good but now the conference time is more than half over and some of the more difficult hearings and discussions are on the schedule. The hope is strong that the relationships will continue to reveal the presence of Christ as promised when two or three are gathered.
updated at bottom with press conference, 9:51 a. m., EDT.
By Jim Naughton
While much of the media’s attention at the Lambeth Conference has focused on the issue of homosexuality, the session that may have the deepest emotional impact on the bishops and their spouses attending the conference were this morning’s presentations on violence against women.
The issue is a particularly explosive one. Its inclusion acknowledges that many women at the conference have been victims of violence. More to the point, it implies that bishops are not simply neglecting the issue of violence against women, but that they may be complicit or involved in it.
The Right Rev. Christopher Hill writes in the Church Times about his introduction to the Anglican Church in Second Life (SL) a year ago, when a lawyer asked him, essentially, if it was possible to take the 450+ member virtual community seriously from a theological perspective. Today, during a "fringe" session at Lambeth, attendees got a tour of the virtual cathedral.
At Dar es Salaam the primates tried to find a way of inviting different groups to take a step forward simultaneously towards each other. It didn't happen, and each group was content to blame the other. But the last 18 months don't suggest that this was a good outcome. Can this Conference now put the same kind of challenge? To the innovator, can we say, 'Don't isolate yourself; don't create facts on the ground that make the invitation to debate ring a bit hollow'? Can we say to the traditionalist, 'Don't invest everything in a church of pure and likeminded souls; try to understand the pastoral and human and theological issues that are urgent for those you are opposing."
To find the entire address click Read more.
By Jim Naughton
The most delicious thing has just happened. The Episcopal Church held a second reception in a campus building for African bishops interested in exploring companion relationships. So far, so ordinary. But somehow, word of this gathering reached the media centre last night in the following form:
The Episcopal Church and an unspecified number of African bishops were to meet on the lawn in front of the media centre tomorrow at 3 p. m. to have it out. The Africans have demanded that the meeting be held in public, so its outcome would be plain for all to see. A cage match!
Bishops continue to report their reactions to the Windsor Continuation Group report and the Covenant process. Every blogging bishop, from whatever point of view on other issues, seems to have been inspired by Sir Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi of England. Today the bishops were deeply moved by the presentations on gender violence. The bishops' wives requested a session on this subject for the 1998 Lambeth Conference and it finally appeared on the schedule in 2008. Videos of the news conference with the presenters can be found here.
By Jim Naughton
The Lambeth Conference concludes in five days, and I don't think anyone can predict with confidence how it will end. The bishops I have talked to--most of the them from the Episcopal Church and the Churches of Brazil, Central America and Mexico--seem to be cautiously optimistic about the outcome of events here. They came with the hopes of building relationships with bishops from other provinces, and, for the most part, they have accomplished that. Their aim now is to get out of Dodge before anything happens to undermine those friendships.
Some notes from this afternoon's press conference on Biblical interpretation:
David Moxen, the Archbishop of New Zealand described a four-part approach to Scripture used in his province in an attempt to move toward some common understandings of Biblical interpretation. It is informed by the notion that one wants to build a "large house for the way we use the Bible."
We have just received the most recent draft of the reflections paper--which is still a work in progress. Here is the paragraph that may give the best sense of what is to come:
Indaba is not shaped to produce a Communique, an Encyclical Letter, or a text which resembles a series of dispositions or resolutions. Indaba is open-ended conversation, which doesn't begin by looking for results or feedback. The final document must be faithful to the indaba process: it will therefore be descriptive of the totality of the engagement which the bishops have undertaken under God.
Another worthwhile paragraph:
Nevertheless, we must acknowledge that there are great tensions in our relationship at present, and an erosion of trust between us. There is concern caused by a perceived lack of restraint and self-limitation, by impaired communion and by intervention across provinces. There is some lack of confidence in the "Instruments of Communion" as the means of achieving this and a particular concern about the role of the Primates' Meeting.
There is a strong view that the way forward lies chiefly through deepening: person to person relationships; diocesan partnerships; reviving our sense of belonging and mutual affection.
We recognize that the variety of provincial order---the different polities of our Churches--can produce misunderstandings and confusions.
A roundup of a few events from the Lambeth Fringe, news and commentary.
Bishops continue their reflections on Tuesday's powerful session on violence against women, also commenting on Rowans Williams' Second Address, and what might or might not happen in the waning days of the Lambeth Conference.
By Jim Naughton
Today is the day that liberals in the Anglican Communion have feared ever since the schedule for the Lambeth Conference was released. The bishops of the communion, most of whom oppose the blessing of same-sex relationships and the ordination of gay clergy, are discussing homosexuality. Will they restate Resolution 1.10 from the 1998 Lambeth Conference which found homosexual behavior incompatible with Scripture? Would they go further? Would punitive measures be put in place to punish provinces that support the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the life of the church?
By Jim Naughton
Left wing inclusion mongers should feel pretty good about this afternoon’s press conference on human sexuality at the Lambeth Conference. The bishops are sharing their views respectfully, speaking from their hearts, disagreeing vigorously, but forging real relationships despite their differences. If that sounds like the lead the Conference Design Team would have written if I’d sat them down at my keyboard, that’s because the design team seems to be succeeding.
The third draft of the Reflections upon the Lambeth Conference 2008 was released this afternoon.
Here are some sections I found worthy of note, with an occasional note from me included:
For the past two days, conservative activist the Rev. Chris Sugden, who for some reason has a press credential, even though he was among the organizers of GAFCON, has organized an afternoon press conference to conflict with the Episcopal Church's regularly-scheduled afternoon press conference. Yesterday he featured Bishop Peter Beckwith of Springfield and today his guest was Bishop Keith Ackerman of Quincy. So the media has heard--at length--from two men who, between them, don't represent a majority of the Episcopalians in the state of Illinois.
I have to admit that I am surprised that Sugden hasn't yet rolled out less marginal spokesmen.
Reports from bishops' blogs today find them wondering if the tentative relationship building will hold up in the face of pressure from those who want an "answer" now. There were moments of tension and many of amazing grace.
The Archbishop of Uganda, Henry Orombi, writing in The Times today describes the deep sense of "betrayal" that he and like minded Anglicans have felt because of the actions of The Episcopal Church and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Orombi additionally criticizes the vestiges of colonialism that he sees in the ways the Anglican Communion is governed and makes its decisions.
From his guest column:
For the Cafe's analysis of the St. Andrew's Draft of the proposed Anglican covenant, see these articles by Tobias Haller, Marshall Scott, Nicholas Knisely (2), Sally Johnson and Mark Harris--all of whom are members of the Episcopal Church's House of Deputies. The Episcopal Church has also published a study guide.
Jim Mathes, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego, had a meeting over breakfast with Bishop Gregory Venables, Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone. After an apology was offered on the part of Bishop Venables, both bishops have committed themselves to trying to find a way to resolve the tensions over "incursions" in the Diocese of San Diego.
First draft of the Lambeth reflection on the bishop and human sexuality:
THE CONTEXT OF OUR TALKS
We met in a spirit of generosity and prayerful humility which enabled us to listen patiently to each other. Apologies have been expressed in the Indaba groups by some of the Episcopal church who had no idea that their action in the consecration of the present Bishop of New Hampshire had caused such a negative impact in many parts of the Communion. Although there has been a great appreciation of one to one conversation, there is the need to develop further the trust in the relationships that have started here.
By Jim Naughton
Press briefers at the Lambeth Conference continue to speak encouraging words to Left Wing Inclusion Mongers--trademark pending--even as a disappointing draft of the bishops' reports on human sexuality emerged from the indaba groups.
Canon Gregory Cameron, of the Anglican Communion Office, secretary of the Covenant Design Group, discussed progress toward a covenant at this morning’s news conference, and was at pains to emphasize that the St. Andrew’s Draft of the covenant is open to revision.
By Jim Naughton
Mouneer Anis, presiding bishop of Jerusalem the Middle East, has just given the most extraordinary interview here at the Lambeth Conference. If you want to know why homosexuality is a difficult issue within the Anglican Communion, and why the media culture here is so debased, this interview and the ruckus around it are helpful.
Yesterday was the first really uncomfortable day in the Indaba groups for the bishops as their conversations turned to matters of human sexuality and the proper response of the Church to gay and lesbian Christians. Most the reports are that the discussions were frank and honest and mostly loving.
By Jim Naughton
Expect a flood of journalistic activity today a little after 5 p. m. Canterbury time. (That’s noon on the East coast of the US.) That’s when the bishops will release the most recent draft of their reflections, and when they will begin a previously unscheduled hearing, which will be their last real opportunity to influence the reflections that will be released near the end of the conference tomorrow.
By Jim Naughton
A touching, revealing moment at the press conference just now. The bishops have been talking for several days now about sacrifice. “What are you willing to sacrifice” to keep the communion together?” The clear implication is that Western churches must sacrifice their desire to include gay Christians more fully in the Church.
Archbishop Fred Hiltz of Canada has put his finger on the principal disconnect at the Lambeth Conference, the highly relational indaba groups, and the more political hearings held to influence the work of the Windsor Continuation Group and the Covenant Design Group Marites N. Sison of Anglican Journal writes:
Update with reactions
The penultimate draft of the Reflections paper from the Lambeth Conference is now available on the conference web site. Section K on the Windsor Process is likely to have the immediate impact in setting an agenda for our Church. The Windsor section and the Sexuality sections of the report are published below. To see the Covenant section, read below.
Today, much talking about the talk, so to speak: How language challenges us. How we hear things, how we say things, and how to truly listen--and speak--when there's so much noise. The Bishops are coming to the end of indabas and bible study with colleagues from around the world, and are feeling pangs of sadness at it being time to go, wonder at what has been accomplished (even if it hasn't seemed like much to those outside).
By Jim Naughton
The last morning of the Lambeth Conference was marked by low clouds, occasional rain and a subdued atmosphere on the University of Kent campus. We are to receive the final draft of the reflections on the indaba process at 2:30 p .m (9:30 a. m. , EDT) and a copy of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s third and final presidential address at 3:30. A press conference with the archbishop is scheduled to begin at 4:30, and the closing Eucharist at 6. I will be writing, rather than attending the Eucharist.
The Reflections Document from the 2008 Lambeth Conference is now online.
Here is the section on the Windsor Report and the three moratoria. I have boldfaced a problematic and I think erroneous addition since yesterday's draft in paragraph 145, and what I consider helpful phrasing in paragraph 146:
By Jim Naughton
I darted around this morning talking to bishops, and what follows is more a reporter’s notebook that a fully-crafted story. In summary, I would say bishops of the Episcopal Church, and those generally sympathetic to it are saying that they thought that the conference went very well and moved the issues in the right direction; that they were glad that no definitive statement on some of the controversial issues was planned, and that they recognized that gay and lesbian people were talked about, rather than talked with.
By Jim Naughton
The Archbishop of Canterbury put the squeeze on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada today, saying that the Anglican Communion would be in “grave peril” if the North American churches did not adopt a moratorium on same- sex blessings and the consecration of gay bishops.
At the end of the Lambeth Conference, John F. Burns writes another profile of Bishop Gene Robinson and describes both the man at the center of the storm and the tough road ahead for Anglicanism if it is to positively build on the work of Lambeth.
The Blogging Bishops offer some thoughts onthe final day of the Lambeth Conference. Most emphaized the value of the conversations at Lambeth. Several expressed disappointment at the "Reflections" document issued earlier today.
That's going to do it for me, folks. I am heading home on Monday, and will probably be laying low for awhile. I have more strong feelings than are helpful about what has happened here, and I am not yet sure how I think our Church should respond to it. But those are conversations for another day.
In many ways the Lambeth Conference had dual personalities. There was the listening, engaging personality of the Indaba groups, along with the Bible Studies, the worship. Then there was the organizational side where the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Anglican Communion Office and the Bishops attempted to find a structure by which the Communion could hold together.
Now that the Bishops are on their way home, the press is trying to make summarize the just completed Lambeth Conference and the pundits are polishing their crystal balls to tell us what it all means.
John F. Burns of the New York Times says Anglicans to Seek Pact to Prevent Schism.
Here is Rachel Zoll's (AP) take.
The Telegraph says that Archbishop Williams is upbeat after Lambeth.
Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks plenary to the Lambeth bishops generated some letters to the editor in the Jerusalem Post.
The Guardian's lead is here.
The Times' lead is here.
The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin says that Anglicans need "space without pressure."
Sitting in airports with wifi and traveling home after the Lambeth Conference, bishops reflect on their experiences and offer thoughts on "what now?"
Videos were shown at the outset of each day of the 2008 Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Communion. These videos introduced participants to the day's theme. Trinity Wall Street has all ten videos available at their web site.
Phil Groves, who led the Listening Process for the Anglican Communion Office received this letter and permission to share it:
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Bishop Mark Sisk of New York spoke about the Lambeth Conference today on a web cast. The conversation, a kind of modified press conference with viewers e-mailing questions, will be available soon at episcopalchurch.org
Here are a few things that struck me, feel free to add your own observations in the comments, but remember, we require you to use your full name.
(Paul Handley of The Church Times kindly asked me to write the Press column for last week's issue while Andrew Brown was on vacation. In return, as you will see at the bottom of the column, they ordained me. I think this has certain implications involving my pension which my employers are unaware of -- Jim Naughton)
No, not the TV series. France 24 did an extended interview with Bishop Pierre Whalon of the Convocation of American Churches in Europe. +Whalon, as one of the blogging bishops, has written extensively about his impressions about Lambeth. But in this more mainstream media piece, Whalon explains a brief history of the Anglican church and its status as the third-largest body of Christians in the world. And when he's asked whether he felt the move toward schism at the meeting, Whalon states firmly, "No, actually, I thought we were moving away from it."
The Telegraph is today covering--as in writing about, not paying for--the shortfall faced by Lambeth organizers now that the £6 million price tag is coming due. The Archbishop's Council of the Church of England is lending £600,000 of the £1 million that the Lambeth Company urgently needs to raise to cover expenses, including the three-week rental of the University of Kent campus as well as feeding and transporting hundreds of bishops and their spouses.
Savitri Hensmen, writing inThe Guardian writes about the prices gays and lesbians are paying around the world when church leaders tolerate bigotry in the name of inclusion. Some excerpts from her comments:
The Church of Ireland Gazette has an editorial entitled "Anglican Governance." It opens:
The Archbishop of Canterbury, in responding to a Times report last week on correspondence in which he engaged some eight years ago on the issue of homosexuality, affirmed his acceptance of Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference "as stating the position of the worldwide Anglican Communion on issues of sexual ethics". Dr Williams continued: "As Archbishop, I understand my responsibility to be to the declared teaching of the Church I serve, and thus to discourage any developments that might imply that the position and convictions of the worldwide Communion have changed."Read it all.
This statement raises questions about the role of the Lambeth Conference itself and, indeed, the ecclesial nature of the Anglican Communion.
The Lambeth Conference is, precisely, a conference. It is not a synod.
The lead editorial in the Church Times today provides an excellent overview of what happened at the most recent Lambeth Conference and some context in which to view it.
Asking the rhetorical question "What happened?" the article answers:
"They did talk about sexuality. They did talk about the threat of schism and the means of heading it off. The two-and-a-half weeks in Canterbury were not an avoid ance exercise; for it was known beforehand that the Conference by itself had no authority to resolve the crisis over homosexuality, even had the GAFCON bishops been present. For this reason, the Archbishop of Canterbury and his team devised a programme that emphasised conversation rather than resolution.
We have no quibble with the Lambeth Conference conceived as a means of enlarging bishops’ vision and enabling them to serve their dioceses better. We should not mind, even, if in 2018 the Archbishop (it might be Dr Williams: he would be only 68) clears the programme completely of meetings and turns the whole thing into a bishops’ holiday — just so long as the Conference has no executive function.
The Anglican Communion is an episcopal body, but not exclusively. Much has been said of Anglican ‘gifts’ in recent days. One is the strong sense of the equality of all lay and ordained members of the body of Christ. The expression of this in a form of synodical government that includes representation of the laity (as well as the clergy) came later to the Church of England than to other provinces; none the less, the place of the clergy and laity in the governance of the Church is now a key mark of Anglicanism."
Towards the end is written:
This ought to have been the story of Lambeth ’08: rifts healed, suppositions challenged, sympathies gained, friendships forged. It is difficult to tell, but there was no opportunity even to try. As it is, the burden falls on the bishops to be the story as they return to their dioceses. St Paul’s message to the Corinthians, appointed for the Transfiguration, is apposite: “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men . . . written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God” (2 Corinthians 3.2,3). The task requires courage and a good memory. Many will want their bishop to feed back into their two-dimensional narrative of good and evil. It is a pressure that not all will be able to resist.
Read the full editorial here.
Also check out the official "Lambeth reflections document" entitled Lambeth Indaba: Capturing Conversations and Reflections from the Lambeth Conference 2008: Equipping Bishops for Mission and Strengthening Anglican Identity, and the digest of that document provided by the Church Times. Both can be found here.
A transcript of the Archbishop of Canterbury's final press conference at the Lambeth Conference is now available. You can also listen to it online.
Beginning at the 21:10 mark, Dr. Rowan Williams attempts to offers some clarity to the old argument about what he means by a moratorium on same sex blessings. Note the first bold faced section. He certainly seems to be saying that the proposed moratorium on "same-sex blessings" is on the authorization of rites for same-sex blessings, not on the practice of providing such blessings.
However, note the second bold faced section. Here Williams conveys the impression that some Episcopal dioceses have authorized rites for blessing same-sex relationships. This isn't the case. So what "practices" is he talking about? Are those "practices" unique to the "American" church, or do they take place in many provinces--including the Church of England?
Is the archbishop simply having trouble articulating what he means? Is he poorly informed about the state of play on this issue in the Episcopal Church? Or is he using TEC as a prop in a self-exculpatory charade? Same-sex blessings are widespread in the Church of England. Many of them are quite public, as the service at St. Bartholemew's, London, in May made clear. The only discernible difference between the Episcopal Church and the Church of England on this issue is that some Episcopal bishops acknowledge publicly that blessings take place in their dioceses and are willing to admit that they are not troubled by this.
That wouldn't seem a distinction significant enough to allow the Archbishop of Canterbury to let himself off the hook in assigning blame for the "strain" in the Communion. But that seems to be what he is doing.
One of the problems around this is that people in different parts of the world clearly define 'public' and 'rights' and 'blessing' in rather different ways. I'd refer I think to what I said in the address this afternoon. As soon as there is a liturgical form it gives the impression: this has the Church's stamp on it. As soon as that happens I think you've moved to another level of apparent commitment, and that I think is nowhere near where the Anglican Communion generally is. In the meeting of Primates at Gramado in Brazil some years ago, the phrase 'A variety of pastoral response' was used as an attempt to recognise that there were places where private prayers were said and, although there's a lot of unease about that, there wasn't quite the same strength of feeling about that as about public liturgies. But again 'pastoral response' has been interpreted very differently and there are those in the USA who would say: 'Well, pastoral response means rights of blessing', and I'm not very happy about that.
(Question about moratoria and 'gracious restraint' and time limits.)
The indaba groups had a lot of discussion about whether moratorium should have a time limit on it, most do. I think frankly it is very difficult to come to a common mind on this at present and, I think a phrase used by the Primates 'unless until a wider consensus emerges' is about as specific as it's got in the past so I don't think we're much further forward than that at the moment.
Archbishop, two of the three moratoria refer to actions that have happened mostly and exclusively in the Episcopal Church the lady from integrity posed a question about why lesbian and gay Christians were being sacrificed and that point has also been made by Susan Russell – are you putting a squeeze on the American Church to get into line?
I'm saying that some of the practices of certain dioceses in the American church continues to put our relations as a communion under strain and that some problems won't be resolved while those practices continue. I might just add perhaps a note here that one complication in discussing all this is the assumption readily made that the blessing of a same sex union, and or the ordination of someone in the act of same-sex relationship is simply a matter of human rights. I'm not saying that is claimed by people within the Church, but you hear that from time to time, you hear it in the secular press and that's an assumption that I can't accept because I think the issue about what conditions a Church lays down for the blessings of unions have to be shaped by its own thinking, its own praying. Now, there's perfectly serious theological reflection on this in some areas – I'm not saying there isn't - but I don't want to short-circuit that argument by saying it's just a matter of rights. Therefore to say that the rights and dignities of gay and lesbian people as people in society is not what we're disagreeing about - I hope and pray anyway.
Goodbye Global South, goodbye Lambeth, goodbye Archbishop of Canterbury. As far as the Primates Council is concerned, "the Anglican Communion as a communion of ordered churches is at the probable brink of collapse." Will these Primates meet with the others at the next Primates Meeting? How will they dare?(boldface added.)
This Communique on the one hand says nothing not already in the works at GAFCON. It simply puts in place the various pieces. But it has become divisive in its own house. There are notable realignment provinces missing from this group and for good reason. This is not about saving the Communion. It is about replacing it, and if that is not possible, about starting something else entirely and recruiting from the Anglican Communion as it can.
If you doubt Mark's conclusion, take a look here.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's has written a reflection on the recently concluded Lambeth Conference for Episcopal Life. She concludes as follows:
The challenge for us will be sorting out how we live together in this diverse communion. That is not a new challenge, but it is exacerbated by the rapidity and pervasiveness of today's communication and the need to honestly confront the legacy of colonialism. The coming months and years will bring invitations to enter more deeply into challenging relationships. Those invitations will annoy, sadden or frighten some of us, yet that is where God has always called us to go.
We are a pilgrim people, and we are not invited to settle down in comfort until all God's people are able to do the same. This Lambeth Conference was a profound reminder that we are responsible to and for each other, and that the journey is about being companions of Jesus on the Way. Along the way, we are meant to listen for the call of the Spirit, in seagulls and the stranger.
The Washington Window's coverage of the Lambeth Conference is now online. The main story begins: The bishops of the Lambeth Conference walked a novel route to a familiar destination.
The sidebar commences as follows: "The bishops at the Lambeth Conference didn’t talk exclusively or even primarily about sex. The rest of their conversations just didn’t receive as much attention.
Among the topics to which they devoted prayer, study and conversation were: evangelism, ecumenism, interfaith relationships, domestic violence, political advocacy and safeguarding the environment. Their spouses explored complementary themes at a separate conference."
The stories are based on reporting that has already appeared on the Cafe, but we pass them on nonetheless.
His comments, in an article called Stop the Scapegoating, published on a US website, are the most scathing yet about Williams, and he is the first US liberal to break ranks with his church and condemn Lambeth. Bishops from the Episcopal church maintained a united front at Canterbury, despite internal divisions over central issues, and remained on-message by stressing the positives. His assessment is more critical than the one issued by primates from the breakaway conservative movement the Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon).
Do you agree with her interpretation of the column?
Wales Online reports that Archbishop Barry Morgan, Rowan Williams successor as the primate of Wales has "warned any attempt to find a quick-fix solution to issues dividing the world’s 80 million Anglicans would 'end in tears' ”.
He told the Church in Wales’ Governing Body in Lampeter that:
Sexuality should not be a “Communion-breaking” issue;
Churches should not be required to sign-up to a new set of binding beliefs;
Anglicans had clamped down on homosexuality but not on heterosexual sex outside marriage.
In his report on the global gathering of bishops for the summer’s Lambeth Conference, he said: “The fundamental question in all of this is whether homosexuality is a matter of choice or not because that should make a difference to the way it is regarded."
Read Archbishop Morgan's address. Some highlights:
Admittedly 200 Bishops were absent mainly from Africa, one or two from England and Australia but that too needs to be seen in perspective. Uganda was the only Province not to be represented by a bishop and some of the African Bishops had come under intense pressure from their Primates not to come, even though some of them wanted to. (This tells you something about the power of Primates in some Provinces of the Communion and why some of them fail to understand why the whole Communion does not fall into line when they speak).On Lambeth and doctrine:
In 1998, only one part of one Resolution, out of 64 pages of Resolutions, has come to be regarded by some as almost the definition of who is and who is not an Anglican. Forgotten are the parts of 110 asking for a listening process on homosexuality, the condemnation of homophobia, and the restriction of sexual relationships between heterosexuals to marriage – at a time if we are honest, when most people who come to be married in Anglican churches in Britain live together beforehand. The only thing that has seemed to count from Lambeth ’98 is the acceptance of the sinfulness of same sex relationships as being binding on all Provinces as if it had legal and not just moral authority.
In 1867 Archbishop Longley said of Lambeth, “it is not competent to make declarations or lay down definitions on points of Doctrines”. In other words, it was not a Synod or a Council, merely an invitation to confer and that is what happened this year. Knowing that no Resolutions or decisions had to be made, gave people both the opportunity and the space to talk openly and honestly.
Lambeth therefore re-affirmed the Millennium Development Goals that had been endorsed by Resolution in 1998. It is ironic that no-one has been castigated or chastised for not pursuing those as ardently as they might over the last ten years. These Millennium Goals are not just secular goals, but are based on firm theological foundations on Jesus’ manifesto in the synagogue at Nazareth at the beginning of his ministry in Luke’s Gospel, with his commitment to the poor marginalised and exploited.
Why is it that as far as Anglicanism is concerned, we do not interpret the Scriptures literally when it comes to issues such as usury or marriage and divorce to name but two, but insist on a literal interpretation of texts that allegedly deal with homosexuality. It is difficult to believe that we have boxed ourselves into this particular corner. Allegorical, symbolical and mythical interpretations are allowed and have been allowed from the time of the Fathers to the present day for every part of the Bible, except for those that deal with sexuality and one is also left wondering why there cannot be diversity on this issue as on so many other moral issues.
On the St. Andrew's draft of the covenant:
The appendix then sets out the procedures for all of this which effectively gives the Instruments of Communion power over Provinces – admittedly with their consent because they will have adopted the Covenant – but it does change the nature of Anglicanism. It also begs the question of what happens if a church can accept the Covenant in principle but not the details of this particular Covenant. The danger is that it could lead to mutual suspicion and reporting, for the appendix elaborates four exclusionary procedures and runs to two thirds of the Covenant itself.
Following the discussions on the proposed Anglican Covenant in Lambeth this summer, the Covenant Design group has met in Singapore and released a compilation of the concerns raised by the bishops this summer. In addition they have outlined the next steps that they suggest be taken in the process and included a questionnaire.
From an article this week in the Church Times:
"Provinces are being asked whether they can ‘in principle’ commit themselves to the Covenant process. The Design Group is seeking to find out what this would involve for the provinces, and whether they require significant changes to be made to the draft to help it through their synodical processes.
The Commentary is packed with detail, including the results of a questionnaire, in which 28.5 per cent of the bishops who were asked said that they had some concerns about the Covenant (see story below). A further 16 per cent had serious reservations about it, but 56 per cent said they were very content or reasonably content about its place in supporting interdependence without excessive centralisation in the Communion.
[...]Many of the bishops were concerned that ‘the very concept of a covenant [was] too contractual to describe communion relationships’. Some also said the document had too many historical references, and others feared it could become ‘a fifth instrument of Communion’, or that it was an ‘innovation’ that ‘be trayed’ the Communion’s flexibility. It was a response to a ‘crisis’, and so was essentially negative. It was legalistic, punitive, and designed more to exclude than to retain provinces.
In response, the Design Group says it will change the ‘idiom’ so that relationships are emphasised more. But sustaining relationships means facing up to what threatens them, it argues. God’s covenants with his people were made in the context of crisis; so that should not be a problem."
Read the full article here. There's a poll linked from the article as well if you'd like to voice your opinion on the question.
There's also an interesting report on the effectiveness of the Lambeth Conference at the end of the article. One interesting take-away is that 4 out of 5 bishops are pleased with the way the Archbishop of Canterbury is handling his office.
The Lambeth Conference Design Group, meeting one last time to review last summer's gathering of Anglican bishops, was unanimous in its assessment that the 2008 conference was an overwhelming success, says the Rev. Ian Douglas, the group's only U.S.-based Episcopal Church member.
And about the money:
Although a deficit of up to £1.2 million ($1.6 million) had been projected, Lambeth Conference manager Sue Parks told ENS that the final figures were not complete but that the Lambeth Conference Company -- the body responsible for the conference's finances and administration -- was looking into ways to meet the shortfall. Parks said that the deficit was less than had been expected because some bishops boycotted the gathering and the budget had been compiled "in the hope that as many people as possible would attend."
Douglas said that, although the design group received information on the finances, it wasn't its fundamental responsibility to raise funds or manage the budget. He said that the group heard at its recently concluded meeting that the conference's deficit wasn't as much as £1.2 million and actually came in under budget to what had been projected.
The board and the council agreed in August to make up to £1.2 million available as an interest free loan to the Lambeth Conference Company "to enable the company to honor its commitments while fundraising efforts continued."
Unfortunately the design team was unable to prevent Rowan Williams from undoing much of the good that had been done with his final presidential address and closing press conference at which he alienated, perhaps once and for all, those who cannot stomach his willingness to deny gay and lesbian Christians the full birthright of their baptisms. The lasting lesson of this Lambeth Conference may be that the structure of the Anglican Communion not necessary to sustain the relationships that currently exist between various members.
Last year's Lambeth Conference had some problems, at least financially speaking. A just completed audit of the funds raised and spent to hold the conference has uncovered some serious concerns about decisions made.
Anglicans Online has been looking into resolutions from previous Lambeth Conferences and found enough to make a quiz for your summer entertainment:
Paul Bagshaw has written an essay on the state of the Anglican Communion after the most recent Primates Meeting, and his thoughts are similar to mine. The threat of the primates dictating terms beyond the borders of their own provinces ebbs as the threat of a Communion run by the Archbishop of Canterbury and a London-based bureaucracy flows.