Bishops blogging, July 24

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.


+Gregory Kerr-Wilson, Qu'Appelle, Canada, live blogged the day using his Blackberry.

I am writing this while riding the coach to London.
Our first item of the day will be the Walk of Witness - aimed at raising awareness and calling for support of the Millennium Development goals. (he then summarizes the speeches)
...
We now been handed out placards to carry so it must be about time to march (or walk). The BBC helicopter is now overhead and the Archbishop has arrived.
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We've successfully completed the Walk of Witness, heard some good addresses from +Rowan, Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the Anglican rep to the UN. Having had a lovely lunch in Lambeth gardens in a marquee set up nicely for about 1500 (amazing organization) we are now preparing to be moved over to Buckingham Palace to visit Her Majesty for tea. If we can avoid melting in our cassocks in the 28 to 30 degree heat, all should be lovely there too.
...
Tea with the Queen at Buckingham is now done. The experience was indeed a gracious one.

Interestingly, both lunch at Lambeth and tea at Buckingham, although delightful "treats" and lots of fun, were both informal extensions of Lambeth Conference discussions. The most significant piece of which was the continuing engagement with different cultures, their differing values and the way we use language - even when it is apparently all English. Working through some of that will be crucial to making headway in our conversations about Biblical understanding and theological reflection.


+Leo Frade, Southeast Florida, TEC, has been trying to correct misinformation about The Episcopal Church and gives a sense of how the Global South supporters are operating:
Another thing that is quite interesting is how the misogynist and homophobic lobby are trying to give the impression that the Global South is of one mind, and that all churches in the region agree with the position of excluding the Episcopal Church. Take the case of the Brazilian Episcopal Church, which was preparing to attend the meeting of the Global South, but was uninvited, because the Church in Brazil, as well as the Mexican Episcopal Church, supports the American and Canadian churches.
....
Today to my amazement I realized that there are at least three bishops who have refused to receive communion from his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury. One of them is the bishop of Argentina, Gregory Venables, Primate of the Province of the Southern Cone. I wonder if they are planning to overthrow centuries of tradition and get rid of the Archbishop, or if they are trying to revive the Donatist heresy.

+George Bruce, Ontario, Canada, reports on his Bible study group and +Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh, TEC:
Sadly we will be losing Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh who will be returning to the US on Friday. I am finding the Bible studies to be special encounters with scripture as we hear how the various passages are understood in the different cultural contexts of our group.

+George Packard, Bishop Suffragan for Chaplaincies, TEC, took the later bus and missed the March. Read about his anti-climaxes at his blog.
I skipped the march. I've found you have to budget your energy and, frankly, the MDGs will still be the MDGs after that long walk. So I took a late bus to Lambeth and waited for the marchers.

+Alan Wilson, Buckingham, CofE, comments on how the kingdom of God might be like a Hawai'ian Luau:
Pono — You may not agree, but you need to be in a right relationship with people. This is partly acknowledging a higher accountability than your feelings, interests and perceptions. The UK norm is to prize agreement in an organisation above relationship.
Mana — Holiness, recognised in people and creation. This sounds rather like the Quaker discipline of “looking for what is of Christ in the other person.” Our Western approach treats the earth like a thing, and flattens or rationalises any sense of wonder and reverence for people and things.
Malama — Unselfishness, or, more positively, care for the other person. We seem by comparison selfish and narcissistic. Old people often feel dumped, selfishness is turned into a virtue, and care is often bureacratised.

There could be a sermon in this sometime. Imagine a world where people worked to understand each other in their own terms. For now I just want to log it as one of the learnng concepts for me from this rather extraordinary learning time.


+Larry Benfield, Arkansas, TEC, reflects on the hearing on the Covenant:
I was impressed with the quality of almost all the comments. People had put serious thought into what they said, and the comment of the day for me was one about how the Trinity itself (which is the heart of our theology, after all) is able to live simultaneously in conflict and love. The example given was that of the Son in the Garden of Gethsemane and his prayer to the Father. Surely the Anglican Communion can learn to live with this same sort of loving disagreement, the speaker reminded us.

+David Rossdale, Grimsby, CofE, is encouraged by his Indaba group discussions:
One thing which came through was the strength of a global family of churches being committed to human flourishing. We were at one in recognising each and every person as an outward and visible sign of God’s grace, in other words that we are each a sacrament and that we should be treated and cared for as such. Again, although the members of my group represent both sides of the issues concerning human sexuality, there was no thirst for division, but rather a desire to reinforce the links which hold the Communion together in a common cause of mission.

One good day doesn’t solve our problems, but it does suggest that the Indaba process may yet prove to be a positive way of us working together at the challenges we face as the Anglican Communion. The voices of the sceptics, the cynics and the disaffected can still be heard and will probably end up being the most reported, even if they are a minority, but I was greatly encouraged by my experiences today


+John Howe, Central Florida, TEC, writing on Titus One Nine, reports on his Indaba group, the Covenant Hearings, and a meeting of Global South primates' supporters:
In our Indaba groups today we focused on the twin questions: "What can I, as a Bishop, do..." and "What can we, as Bishops, do to further the MDGs"? In our group it became evident that most of our Dioceses are already fairly deeply involved in implementing at least some of the MDGs (think: houses in Honduras, relief efforts in New Orleans, Mustard Seed outreach in Ft. Pierce, etc., and our plans for a major effort to combat malaria this fall).

(Of course, the point of the effort is not so much that churches and Dioceses will implement the MDGs as it is to induce governments to do so, and there is a small irony here in that the present Prime Minister of Great Britain, Gordon Brown, is already under a fair amount of criticism for his very overt commitment to the MDGs! But perhaps the effort will encourage him, and others, to "keep on keeping on.")

Tonight I have just come from a meeting of seven of the "Global South" Primates, several of the British Bishops, and 14 of our American Bishops, some involved in "Common Cause" and some in "Communion Partners." The point was again made that CP is an "inside" strategy, and CC an "outside" one, but that both are needed; and we want to do the best we can to support each other. The Primates were very clear in repeating several times their promise of solidarity with both efforts.


+Prince Singh, Rochester, TEC, tells of the long days of Lambeth and how life goes on in one's family at home. Prayers go out from Episcopal Cafe for him and his family at this time.
Dear saints,
Sorry, I have not been able to blog for a while. Things have been hectic here. My day essentially begins at 6 AM when I wake up for my personal meditation and get ready for the day. This is followed by corporate worship and Eucharist at 7:15 AM. After this, we meet for breakfast followed by Bible Study with a group of eight (same group). After tea we gather with our Indaba group of about thirty where we engage different topics until lunch. Today's topic was "The bishop and Social Justice," when we focused on the Millennium Development Goals. After lunch we start our self-select engagements on a plethora of relevant mission and ministry topics in the Anglican Communion. This is followed by evening prayer, dinner and "fringe" events. Today's fringe event was a reception for Bishop Gen Robinson, which was well attended. It was a holy session. I got back to my single room in the basement of Rutherford College at 10:15 PM, exhausted!
These past few days have been splendid for the most part. We had a terribly tragic event in our family, though. Roja, who has been in Virginia and New Jersey with the boys, called to inform me that one of our nephews, a young man in his early thirties committed suicide. It was devastating to hear this news and then figure out a way to connect with family members to offer solace as best as I could. It has been difficult engaging my own feelings about this especially with Roja so far away. She arrives Friday morning. Can't wait to hold and comfort each other.

+Christopher Epting, Staff Ecumenical Officer, TEC, writes:
Well, the goal that “we all may be one” was certainly not advanced by The Archbishop of the Sudan, Daniel, holding a press conference to suggest the resignation of the Bishop of New Hampshire! Talk about “meddling” in another church’s affairs/polity!

No one is surprised at that perspective and all of us expected to hear it and talk about the matter here at the Lambeth Conference. But such a studied, planned (no doubt, orchestrated) “bomb” done publically at a press conference in clear violation of the spirit of this “conversation called Lambeth” was discouraging to many of us.
.....
Some of the wives are particularly incensed at having to go on the “march against poverty” decked out in their finest (including hats) for the Queen.


+Pierre Whalon, Churches in Europe, TEC, reviews the day and says it was:
All under a warm summer sun in London, wearing my only purple cassock (note to self: buy a @#$% summer-weight cassock!). All in all it was a fine day. The most important thing that happened besides the march were several long conversations with bishops from around the world about Where Do We Go From Here. And some ideas...

Stayed tuned.


+Porter Taylor, Western North Carolina, TEC, shares a theme one hears often from the US based bishops:
I was humbled by the conversations. Bishops in other parts of the world simply face more external hurt and more societal brokenness that we can imagine. I spoke to bishops whose people fear for their lives because of the government. One told me that his house is filled with students who have no place to live because they have no parents. Another said that the churches had been torn down so now they worship under trees.

One last thing from +Alan Wilson sought out the bishop who preached Sunday about the meaning of the alleged Buddhist chant. Translated it says:

I take refuge in God the Father
I take refuge in God the Son
I take refuge in God the Holy Spirit
I take refuge in the One Triune God.

Video Quiz for the day - can you find your bishop here?

UPDATE:
+David Walker, blogging for Thinking Anglicans:

Can we take this on into the rest of the conference, as a reminder that the world and we have bigger issues to address than what bishops do in their bedrooms (in my case mostly sleep and blog)? I hope so. The next few days will tell.

Highlight of the day: that Prime Ministerial speech

Lowlight of the day: returning tired to the campus tonight to yet another huge queue at the one outlet and handful of overstretched staff distributing food. But unlike many around the world we did all (eventually) get fed.

Comments (4)

I had been hoping someone would provide a translation of what Bishop De Chickera chanted at the end of his sermon. This is fascinating (!) ... since the chant is based on the fundamental Buddhist affirmation of faith/committment--"I take refuge in the Buddha; I take refuge in the dhamma (teaching); I take refuge in the sangha (community)"--which is recited frequently in public and private ritual. It is a striking example of the very ancient Christian practice of appropriating and "baptizing" indigenous religious symbols so that Christianity can become "native" (think St. Patrick and various Celtic symbols and sacred sites). It would be interesting to know if Christians in Sri Lanka make regular use of this chant, since Buddhists might take it as quite a provocation to have their basic "confession of faith" taken over and revised for Christian use. I wouldn't be surprised if some Buddhists took offense. Ironic, given Bishop Duncan's grumble about the chant. It would be nice now to see the bishop apologize for the misguided grumble about the chant, which certainly was not an "invocation of something other than the God we know." (!)

For those readers who don't click through, but do read the comments, Bishop Alan went on to say:

I am surprised that the Bishop of Pittsburgh finds this a deeply troubling invocation of a God he does not know. I am sorry if it does not reflect the God he believes in. I rejoice to know, and better still, to be known through and through by this God, and to believe in him. Over fifty years he has been my creator, saviour, and sanctifier, and I know no other.

It is reported here,
http://covenant-communion.com/?p=811
that
The Bishop of Pittsburgh Robert Duncan, however, was nonplussed by the singing of a Buddhist chant at the close of the sermon and asked the conference organizers to provide a translation of the chant.

If anyone has seen an apology by Duncan I'd like to know.

Bishop Frade's rainbow flag was noted in an article on Episcopal Life Online. You can also see the flag go by on the video on the BBC website at the 2:02 mark.


"Bishop Leo Frade of Southeast Florida had wrapped a rainbow flag around his sign because, he said, 'when we talk about justice and mercy, we need to remember that gay and lesbian persons are discriminated against by the church and the government.' "

Well, since it is now 02:30 on Friday in London, and according to at least one blogger on this thread, +Pittsburgh is leaving sometime today, I doubt whether he would have time to make an apology even if he wanted to.

Susan Hedges

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