Bits and pieces: news from the Lambeth Fringe

A roundup of a few events from the Lambeth Fringe, news and commentary.

+Gene Robinson offers a Word of Hope for LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] in a video here. And another video on The Gene Pool keeps the Anglican drama in perspective as 7 out of 10 people approached on the streets of Canterbury could not tell whether the photo they were shown was of the Archbishop of Canterbury or Bishop Gene Robinson.

Stephen Bates challenges the bishops here:

The news that Davis Mac-Iyalla, a Nigerian Anglican who is gay, has been granted political asylum in Britain ought to give the 670 bishops currently meeting in Canterbury pause for thought about the African church which has so often been held up as a shining example of growth and spiritual dynamism in the worldwide denomination.

Ruth Gledhill of The Times reports on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s second address to the Conference:

Incredibly powerful address from Rowan Williams to bishops at Lambeth tonight. ‘At the moment, we seem often to be threatening death to each other, not offering life,’ he says.’What some see as confused or reckless innovation in some provinces is felt as a body-blow to the integrity of mission and a matter of literal physical risk to Christians. The reaction to this is in turn felt as an annihilating judgement on a whole local church, undermining its legitimacy and pouring scorn on its witness. We need to speak life to each other; and that means change.

Others agree with the need for change in relations but do not agree that means more restrictive covenants, canons et al. Mark Harris writing at Preludium offers some expansive ideas of being in relationship:

… The Covenant being proposed is as formulated a statement of union. It is written by people who have been given the task of protecting an idea of union that on some level does exist in the Anglican Communion. But for that very reason it assumes what it cannot prove – that the desire of every Province, or even most of them, is to be a union not in the communion sense but in the “more perfect union” that constitutes a world wide ecclesial body. …

In that sense it has become a shotgun wedding. Having shared the same bed, and now making it in the morning, concerned parental units are showing up and demanding we all get married. This will not fly. Try reforming a Covenant as an aspiration of friendship across cultures, distances, communities.

Try forming a covenant based, as the Archbishop suggests, on life, not on death. Perhaps such a covenant would begin,

“In as much as God has seen fit to encourage friendship between churches whose understanding of the faith, the scripture, the sacraments and the common life of prayer and church governance was formed from the experience of the Church of England, we the undersigned pledge, in so far as we are able, to constant prayer for one another, companionship in mission and evangelism, and mutual regard.

We pledge to honor the baptism of persons from every church so pledged, to accept ministers of the Gospel from any of our churches in so far as our own canons permit, and to extend sacramental ministry to members of every church so pledged provided they follow the godly council of the church in which they participate as regards preparation for reception of sacramental ministry.”

The Times Online calls on a panel of bishops to reflect on the conference. Mouneer Anis, Egypt, Primate of the Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East; Catherine Roskam, bishop suffragan of the Diocese of New York, The Episcopal Church; Kirk Smith, bishop of Arizona, Episcopal Church; Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales, Ian Earnest, Archbishop of the Indian Ocean, Bishop of Mauritius; and Todd Mcgregor, Bishop of Madagascar – most offer a positive view of the relationships and spirit of the Conference although the differences continue.

A second preview of Voices of Witness Africa was held for more than full house Tuesday evening:

The Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus, Bishop of California, hosted a second preview of Voices of Witness: Africa last night. The room was packed with bishops and their spouses. There were so many, in fact, that not everyone could get in! Brazil was especially well represented–with every bishop from that province attending.

The video can be seen here.

Episcopal Life Online explains the different activities of the Conference:

The main conference days, which begin on July 21, are split into four sections: group Bible study, expanded meetings called “Indaba” groups, self-selecting groups and optional “fringe” events. Each Bible study groups will include about eight bishops and will be followed by expanded groups [Indaba] of about 40 bishops. For the self-selecting groups, the bishops may choose between various workshops, seminars or discussions that will focus on a particular conference topic. Fringe events will provide an opportunity for entertainment and fellowship through film screenings, theater productions, dinners and discussions.

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