Blogging Bishops: August 3


The Blogging Bishops offer some thoughts onthe final day of the Lambeth Conference. Most emphaized the value of the conversations at Lambeth. Several expressed disappointment at the “Reflections” document issued earlier today.

+Kirk Smith, Arizona, TEC, notes that today was an up and down day:

It was an emotionally up and down day. The final verson of the “Reflections” came out and I was not only disappointed with its content, but also with the process. We had not been given a chance to review the last and most controversial section before it was printed up, and I felt that the process had not been done fairly. The trust that had built up over the past few weeks was rapidly evaporating for me. But after a wonderful final Bible study session and the chance to air my concerns in the final indaba group, I felt much better.

There will be a lot of questions as to “what came out of Lambeth?” I will be mulling this over in the next week or so, and will write more about it later, but it is probably easier to say what did NOT come out. First, no schism! Those who predicted that this would be the end of the Anglican Communion were dead wrong. Yes, there is a group (GAFCON) which has already left, but those of us remaining (about 85%) are committed to remaining together. The other thing did not come out was any kind of policy. There was no legislation done–only conversations were held. Finally, what will have to wait is a solution to the problems that beset us. There will be more meetings, more discussions. The American House of Bishop’s meeting in September will be important for us to digest the meeting and come to some understanding of how we will respond to the mood of Lambeth, especially as regards c the issues of moratoria and “Pastoral Forums” who could monitor our compliance with the Windsor Report. All this remains to be done, and no one should jump to any early conclusions!

As for what DID come out–There is above all a renewed scene of connectedness in mission. As one bishop said, “We are the product of the conference.” This new level of trust and respect and unity in Christ will serve us well in the years ahead. For me personally, I’ve also made several very close prayer partners who will be friends for life. I’ve also got a briefcase full of ideas for how we can work with our world wide partners on poverty and environmental issues.

+Alan Wilson, Buckingham, CofE, offered these reflections before the final plenary:

So, in closing off the indaba process disquiet was expressed about the lack of closure (something I can live with in an open ended process). What comes out of this conference is us, as renewed disciples. The authority of the output will come from the fruit of the Spirit, and the capacity of this commitment to being together to spread virally. Powerplays and politics won’t build the kingdom anyway.

The fact is, one brother pointed out, we are exactly where Rowan promised we would be in the letter of invitation we all received. We have decided, said another senior brother, to sit closer to God and give each other space for true understanding and honest resolution. It is a recall to basic gospel principles. Jesus didn’t start a political movement or issue books of rules — he made friends.

+George Packard, Bishop for Chaplaincies, TEC, argues that it is the stories learned from other Bishops that willhave lasting influence:

On this last day of the Conference our bible study ended with the question, “How can the glory of God and the wounds of crucifixion be reflected in us as we are sent in Jesus’ name?” I needed help with this…personal frailties, wounds, I can account for easily…but glory?

A brother from Brazil said he felt that there is glory in the life stories we have shared during during our days together. That appealed to me because nothing will make eyes glaze over quicker at home–or out visiting chaplains–than going on and on about the Windsor Report, the Covenant, and the general tinkering with all things Anglican for 17 days. Indeed, it’s the stories.

+Paul Colton, Cork, Cloyne and Ross , Church of Ireland, reflects on his impressions of Bishop Gene Robinson:

I was pleased, as a guest of some bishops from The Episcopal Church, to have the opportunity to meet Bishop Gene Robinson and was startled by how theologically conservative and evangelical he is! I was humbled by the fact that he was introduced to us by the people of his own Diocese by way of DVD. To them he is clearly and simply ‘the bishop’ not, as he has become known everywhere else ‘the gay bishop’. The esteem they have for his episcopal ministry is humbling.

What was challenging and humbling also was the prospect of each of the rest of us as bishops having to bring a DVD introduction and commendation from the people of our Diocese as a mandate for our being at Lambeth. What would the people of Cork, Cloyne and Ross say?

+Tim Stevens, Leicester, CofE, writes of his uncertainty at what Lambeth achieved:

But it is frankly not clear what we have achieved. The last few days have involved a drafting group in spending many hours trying to write a reflection paper on the conference for all the bishops to take home with them. It describes our discussions and concerns in some detail. But on the big issues around how we hold things together in the future there isn’t yet clarity. This conference has passed no resolutions and issued no generally agreed statements. It is therefore uncertain as to what is the mind of the conference on some of the most difficult issues. Today we shall see the final version of the document which reports the conference, but there has been no process by which the members of the conference can agree the text!

+Sean Rowe, Northwestern Pennsylvania, TEC, notes that the success of Lambeth this year came at a cost:

Participating as an ‘American’ bishop was difficult. The actions taken by our church, regardless of where one stands, [as well as the actions of Primates who have crossed diocesan boundaries] has clearly put a strain on the communion. The bishops from TEC tried very hard to listen more and talk less. At various points, I personally found it difficult for my voice to be heard or valued. Actually, though, it was a good learning experience for me. I am used to being in a culture and in settings where I have power and authority by virtue of position. For me this experience of, at times, feeling marginalized pales in comparison to what many contend with day to day.

The future of the Anglican Communion depends, in part, upon whether we can claim a renewed sense of what it means to be bishops in communion with each other. The time that we spent together as bishops was invaluable. The daily bible study and indaba discussion groups gave us an opportunity to meet together face to face to discuss our common mission and our deep divisions. What we have to show for these three weeks are stronger relationships and a document which is a narrative of our various indaba group discussions.

This outcome, in my opinion, did not come without significant cost. As bishops, we chose not to exercise our teaching office at this time at this Lambeth Conference. By making this choice, we may have in fact weakened the Lambeth Conference as an Instrument of Unity in the Anglican Communion.

I think, though, it is a price worth paying.


+Stephen Lane, Maine, TEC, is troubled by the lecture delivered by the Archbishop Canterbury to the North Americans – asking Canada and the Episcopal Church to sacrifice some of the baptized for some sort of unity:

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