Live: five days and counting

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.

The only fresh development that I can report on has to do with timing. Because both the Covenant Design group and the Windsor Continuation Group make their next--and possibly final--reports to the Anglican Consultative Council in May, it seems at least somewhat unlikely that the General Convention of the Episcopal Church would be ready to take action on any major initiatives arising out of that meeting when it convenes next July--meaning that in the absence of a special convention, the Episcopal Church could not take an up or down vote on a covenant, or on the proposed pastoral forum until 2012.

If you favor kicking the can down the road indefinitely, this may seem good news. If, like me, you are beginning to worry that this interminable dispute is bad for the member provinces of the Anglican Communion--that we may be damaging churches in order to save the organization to which they belong--then you may take a dimmer view. Is it possible that relationships among members of the Communion would actually improve if the Communion did not exist? That is what I am starting to wonder.

Meanwhile, barring some spectacular contrivance, today is looking like a fairly quiet day here at the Conference. There are hearings this afternoon at which the bishops will have an opportunity to speak out on the final "reflections document" to be issued at the end of the conference, and perhaps that will produce some news.

Comments (1)

"Is it possible that relationships among members of the Communion would actually improve if the Communion did not exist? That is what I am starting to wonder."

I'm beginning to wonder that also, Jim. After all, what is the heart of the Anglican Communion? Is it not the warm and mutually enriching relationships that my Diocese of Iowa has with the Diocese of Swaziland and the Diocese of Brechin? Is it not the relationships between American dioceses and dioceses in the Episcopal Church of Sudan, and all the similar relationships that exist around the world? Being a "World-Wide" Anglican means going to see each other and sharing with each other and learning from each other. Once every ten years all (ideally all) our Bishops get together and visit with each other and pray together. That's good. All the rest of it (most of which was invented in the 1960s, a mixed decade for inventions) is starting to get in the way. Are the "Instruments of Communion" hampering Communion? I'll accept the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Lambeth Conference. I'd even accept an Anglican Consultative Council, though they probably need to be put on probation for a while. The Council of Primates, not so much. I never was a Reaganite, but "An Anglican Communion Structure is not the solution, an Anglican Communion Structure is the problem!" To quote the daughter of a priest in California (I believe; I no longer remember where I read this): "Build bridges. And then get over them."

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