Bishops blogging, after Lambeth

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Sitting in airports with wifi and traveling home after the Lambeth Conference, bishops reflect on their experiences and offer thoughts on “what now?”


+Marc Andrus, California, TEC, says goodbye by video to his Indaba group and praises the courage of those who came to witness at the Lambeth Conference, and comments on California’s continuing to bless same sex marriages:

The Lambeth Conference came to its conclusion today, Sunday. I would like to thank the courageous –“acting from the heart” – people who came to Canterbury from many places to tell their stories as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered people, as part of the Listening Process called for by Lambeth ’98, the Windsor Document, the Primates, and the Archbishop of Canterbury. As I pointed out in several settings at the conference, the strength and courage of LGBT people coming to a place where it was commonly heard that there were significant negative places of negative energy aimed at them is something to honor.

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Archbishop Rowan in his final presidential address, given just after we received the reflections document noted that, “There will be some who cannot abide by these moratoria, and in this they signal that there are steps to deeper unity they cannot take; or it may be that they conceive of deeper unity in other ways.” I take this to be a profound and generous idea. In not abiding by the moratorium on same-sex blessings I take it as incumbent on me and on us in the Diocese to actively labor to both understand the position of those to whom that moratorium is important, and to convey the reality of our life together to the world. I must redouble my efforts at inhabiting a deeper unity.

+Mouneer Anis, Egypt, Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East, reports the reaction and an eleven point statement on the Lambeth Conference by his GAFCON associates, which he signed:

6. We expect the Lambeth Conference, as a significant instrument of unity of the Communion, to give vital leadership towards resolving the present crisis over faith and order. This should be effected only on the agreed consensus of communion and moral commitments made in resolutions of successive meetings which provide the proper framework and basis towards addressing and resolving the crisis:the Lambeth 1998 Resolution I.10; the respective Communiqués of the Primates’ Meetings of 2003, Dromantine 2005, and most explicitly Dar-es-Salaam 2007: in particular, on the complete cessation of (a) the celebration of blessings for same-sex unions, (b) consecrations of those living in openly gay relationships, and (c) all cross border interventions and inter-provincial claims of jurisdiction, as the Windsor Continuation Group rightly observed

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+Christopher Epting, Ecumenical Officer, TEC relates the split personality of the Conference:

Deep listening did indeed take place on all “sides” and a greater appreciation for one another’s ministry contexts and faithfulness was evident. Again, the Bible study and “indaba” conversation groups contributed hugely to this spirit.

Yet, in the closing plenary the Archbishop of Canterbury not only gave the floor to Metropolitan Kallistos, an English Orthodox ecumenical observer, who seemed to want us to reaffirm the 1998 Lambeth resolution I.10 on homosexuality, which Rowan Williams had already publicly stated we did not need to, nor would we, do. It remains what it is – a resolution of the last Lambeth Conference which undoubtedly reflects the position of the vast majority of Anglicans (or at least Anglican bishops) around the world.

And Dr. Williams himself once again singled us out – at least indirectly – as the source of the Anglican Communion’s difficulties with scarce reference to Provinces invading US dioceses, a process which began well before the election of the present Bishop of New Hampshire.

+Alan Wilson, Buckingham, CofE, is one of the few bishop who allowed comments and responded to them on his blog. In one exchange, Bishop Alan responds to a question about the sacrifice of gays and lesbians:

Your testimony speaks of how horrible it is to have that done to you. I can’t imagine the pain in the heart of God, who has to see the world through the eyes of millions of people in whom he enfleshes himself who are marginalised — the child in Darfur, the victim of homophobia, the person trapped by addiction, the driven yuppie on the early morning train, the guy s’he walks by into the city wrapped up in cardboard by the roadside.

…… on another subject, he writes:

One of the more misunderstood and maligned groups in the big world out there, if I may say, has been TEC bishops. This has only been made worse by the perceived imperialism and aggression of US foreign policy. All I can say is please try and be kind to your guys. They have worked damned hard here, to represent a Westernized form of Anglicanism, but also to understand and open their eyes to the real world beyond. That’s where we all have to live in the end. They have to find ways of encouraging local authenticity in the real world. Or they can go entirely local and just say ”screw the real world.” That would go with the foreign policy, I suppose. As this process happens, slowly and painfully, the healng begins to happen within the whole world, to the whole world.

+Michael Ingham, New Westminster, Vancouver, Canada, has been using podcasts to communicate with his diocese. He feels that while the Indaba groups were a success, the Windsor Continuing Group and the ABC reveal rigidity and lack of wisdom. Ingham comments that there was nuance in Rowan Williams final speech that shows that it is not possible hold back the questions of innovators and prophets. He believes that the North American churches are still “onside.” Ingham communicates his sense that the Diocese will have to meet and make some decisions about how to go forward with the latest speech by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the ABC’s support for a moratorium on rites for same sex blessings and threats of punishment by the Anglican Communion. He says “we will decide.”

+Pierre Whalon, Churches in Europe, TEC, calls the conference the biggest continuing education project in the world, putting him firmly on the rails of his episcopate:

Also, I have lost weight. (This is good.) My cincture keeps falling off, which it didn’t two weeks ago.

Seeing the various reviews this morning, it seems we are being gently ridiculed. Those who were demanding a decision didn’t get it. But our spiritual leader, that is to say, the Archbishop of Canterbury, had told us that bishops are leaders, not when we give orders or make decisions, but when we follow Jesus in the way he is opening for us. This is certainly what has happened to us.

+Jonathan Gledhill, Lichfield, CofE, surveyed his Indaba group on the ideas coming from Lambeth:

Forty-three out of forty-five bishops agree to the moratoria and the Pastoral Forum and the other two more or less cancel each other out. There is one bishop who says that this would be too hard for his gay and lesbian people and another who says that the American church must repent before we can restore fellowship

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+Greg Rickel, Olympia, TEC reminds all that the final Reflection Document is not legislative and was not voted upon:

This group has worked around the clock, literally, and they were tired. It was not never proposed to be a document to solve things, not a legislative document, but a “reflection” of what we were about, and where our minds are right now, to the best of their ability.

+Mark Lawrence, South Carolina, TEC, seems to being saying farewell to the Episcopal Church and to an Anglican Communion centered in the Archbishop of Canterbury:

I am glad I came here for this Lambeth and worshipped one last time in the Cathedral home of Augustine and Dunstan, Anselm and Becket, Cranmer and Laud, Temple and Ramsay. I had come to speak a word of hope and perhaps to intervene on behalf of our beloved, but in the last resolve the family refused the long needed measures. So he just slipped away, our noble prince, one dreary morning in Canterbury with hardly even a death rattle.

The new prince was born last month in Jerusalem. I was there—arriving late, departing early. I was never quite sure what I was witnessing. It was an awkward and messy birth. He hardly struck me as I gazed upon him there in the bassinet as quite ready to be heir to the throne. I even wondered at times if there might be some illegitimacy to his bloodlines. But that I fear was my over wedded ness to a white and European world. May he live long, and may his tribe increase—and may he remember with mercy all those who merely mildly neglected his birth.

As for me my role for now is clear, to hold together as much as I can for as long as I can that when he comes to his rightful place on St. Augustine’s throne in Canterbury Cathedral he will have a faithful and richly textured kingdom.

Francisco Silva+, Secretary General, Brazil, posts the thoughts of his bishop who believes the spirit of the Indaba groups must continue:

My hope is that people continue to look for the Anglican Communion and feel comfortable with its diversity.

From this Conference we’ll bring advances and stepbacks. Advance in methodology. It was very effective to put people in the indaba process. Stepback in not considering – in a level as wished – some voices from those who are accused to betray the Comunion with their broader biblical and pastoral perspectives.

The final Reflections on Lambeth was result of a patient process of hearings and prayers. It is very honest in recognize that the Communion hasn’t yet clear consensus on matters related to same sex issues. It predicts that a way of mutual conversation and respect is needed forward.

No decisions, no winners, no losers. But a great deal: the indaba must go on!

Soon, I hope to offer a more deep impressions on the Reflections on Lambeth. Now, I’m just looking through the window of my bedroom and checking the bus arrriving to collect me!

+Leo Frade, Southeast Florida, TEC, writes of the powerful moment of adding the Melanesian martyrs to the Chapel of Saints and Martyrs of Our Own Time at Canterbury Cathedral:

It contains the name of people like Archbishop Janani Luwum, killed in Uganda by Idi Amin, Archbishop Romero killed by the extreme right in El Salvador, Dietrich Bonhoeffer killed by the Nazis in Germany and others.

Today we added to the number of martyrs to be remembered the names of seven members of an indigenous Anglican order of monks in the Solomon Islands who were brutally murdered during ethnic conflict. This religious order has 400 brothers and 200 novices and some of them were present at the Lambeth Conference. The martyr’s names are: Nathaniel Sado, Robin Lindsay, Francis Tofi, Alfred Hill, Ini Paratabau, Patteson Gatu and Tony Sirihi. We pray God for the saints who have entered into joy. May we also come to share in God’s heavenly kingdom. May their souls, and the soul of all faithful departed, rest in peace.

+Mark Beckwith, Newark, TEC, is troubled by the inevitable spin about the Reflections Report. He will be meeting with members of the Diocese he serves soon to explore what next:

This document is not a report. We did not vote on it. It is a description of conversations. As one listening group member said, “We were not poets. We did not interpret.”

I mention all of this because some have already tried to “spin” the document – indicating that it represents the decisions of Lambeth and, on some matters, holds the church accountable to certain practices

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+Stephen Lane, Maine, TEC, feels sadness and hope. He is troubled by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s remarks on North America and reflects that there are many “sides” in the issues of the day – it is not a case of two being locked in conflict even though the ABC and the reflection paper seem to insist on this narrative:

I think, as my new friend, George, has said, the story line we’ve been given for this Lambeth is actually the wrong story line. The story line we’ve been given is that there are two sides locked in combat here at Lambeth. The two sides may be described as progressive or liberal and traditional or conservative, and they are said to extend throughout the Communion. But a truer narrative is that there a many “sides” and that in many places passionate Christians are proclaiming the Gospel. They may have opinions about the issues that divide us, but they are not focused on them and not willing to spend all their time talking about them. Attempts to resolve the conflict do not speak to their situations or their needs.

But the “two sides” story line is very strong, and the Lambeth reflection paper will reinforce it. There are many people who hope the existing moratoria will continue and that a Pastoral Forum will be established to deal with conflicts. And while some folk express deep skepticism about the need for and viability of a covenant, others hope work will go forward. The good news hidden in these matters is the now nearly universal recognition that nothing will work unless ways can be found to continue in genuine conversation. Good relationships are the key to resolving conflicts.

For now, there have been no legislative changes. The reflection paper is advisory and the matters raised will need to be addressed by the Synods or Conventions of each Province. The Covenant process may well go through several more iterations before Provinces will be asked to decide. And in several Provinces, constitutional and canonical issues will further slow consideration. So numerous opportunities for conversation lie before us.

+Catherine Roskam, New York, TEC, believes the Archbishop of Canterbury left the door open to the work of full inclusion by Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church in his final speech where he says:

Does this mean that we are all restricted by each other’s views and preferences, incapable of arguing or changing? It was a problem familiar to St Paul, and you have already, in this Conference, heard something of how he dealt with it. But let me try to say how this affects our current difficulties. A fellow-Christian may believe they have a profound fresh insight. They seek to persuade others about it. A healthy church gives space for such exchanges. But the Christian with the new insight can’t claim straight away that this is now what the Church of God believes or intends; and it quite rightly takes a long time before any novelty can begin to find a way into the public liturgy, even if it has been widely agreed.

+Catherine writes:

So what was it like really? I would say that the Archbishop attempted to achieve balance in all of his presentations and sermons. Did everything get said that the Episcopal Church might have wanted? No, but the Archbishop said some things we have not heard before, particularly about some Christians being led by the Spirit into something new over and against those who, out of a deep commitment to Scripture, believe that those very things ought not to change. (I am not doing his eloquence justice, but I am writing to you from the airport after having wakened at 3:45AM.) He encouraged us to make room for one another with respect and a sense of mutuality. In other words, no part of the body is to say to another, “I have no need of you.”

+George Councell, New Jersey, TEC, reminds readers that the bishops and Lambeth are not a body that can make decisions on their own:

Although the bishops’ leadership is important, this Lambeth Conference does not have the final word on several important matters that we have addressed. The Covenant process, for example, stretches out for years and years. And the observance of moratoria would, in The Episcopal Church, require the action of General Convention. And bear in mind the character of the Anglican Communion: a Communion of Churches, joined together by bonds of affection, not a juridical or legislative body.

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