We're in Canterbury, at St. Stephen's Church where our Communication Centre is set up in the "Church Hall." At the moment, it's a tangle of technicians and computers and cords and wires getting everybody set up and organized to do the work we've come here to do:
- Witness to our shared history as members of the worldwide Anglican Communion;
- Call our Anglican brothers and sisters in Christ to transcend the differences that some insist must divide us;
- Focus on the common mission and ministry that will, in the end, unite us.
The bishops are, themselves, on retreat now through Sunday morning, when they will gather at Canterbury Cathedral for worship and then head back "up the hill" to the Univesity of Kent campus for the first program session of the conference which has been creatively entitle: "Introduction to the Conference Programme "
Also on Sunday will be the Changing Attitude/Intgrity Eucharist being held just "up the corner" from St. Stephen's on a village green at 2:30 p.m. We're anticipating a number of bishops will join us for that celebration and I've already had emails from a few Lambeth Conference volunteers who are organizing their "off time" to be available to join us as well. Happily, +Gene has confirmed that he will attend so we're looking forward to a good time being had by all!
Here are some places to check out for more details du jour:
Colorado Bishop Rob O'Neill offers "A Beginning" -- reflections on the first evening/formal welcome from last night.
The emphasis during our time together, [+Rowan Williams] reflected, must be upon deepening our relationships, not imagining naively that building relationships alone will solve our problems but understanding that we dare not pretend to address the issues before us without first offering one another the kind of deep and loving attentiveness to relationship that Jesus in fact commands.
Ruth Gledhill has her Lambeth Diary up on her blog ... great pictures and a good "feel" for the energy around campus on Wednesday.
Also of note is Gledhill's London Times report on the "Lambeth Reader" described as a "paper, commissioned by Dr Williams, [that] made clear that bishops who had transgressed diocesan and provincial boundaries in search of “orthodox” primacy were considered guilty of undermining collegiality."
More from the paper, as quoted in the Times report:
An even worse sin, it suggested, was boycotting the conference ... “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.
Thanks to Dave for the head's up on this KPCC radio interview with +Gene ... WELL worth the listen (Wednesday, July 16)
Finally, DO ready Jim Naughton's "Simon Sarmiento explains it all" over at Episcopal Cafe. It gives some great background/context. DO read it all but here's his MOST worthwhile conclusion:
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.
Amen. Amen. Amen!