Drenched in grace

180 people gathered in Derbyshire, England, for Inclusive Church’s first residential conference called “Drenched in Grace.” The goal was to offer “a model of engagement to the Communion at large. In our disagreements we acknowledged the primacy of God’s love in which we are all held together, but we did not keep silent about our differences.”

Attendees represented every tradition and stripe of Anglicanism. According to Inclusive Church, the conference included:

Dr Jenny Te Paa (St John’s College, Auckland NZ) opened the conference. In a strong speech, Te Paa reminded us “how pervasive the reach of enmity has become amongst us.” She urged us “not so much to focus too intently and singularly on the bad behaviour of the few, but rather to focus anew on the very good behaviour of the many.”

Revd Dr Sharon Moughtin-Mumby in her talk “Out of the Silence” said “I believe it is vital for us to …. refuse to skip over the difficult and challenging or awkward passages of the Bible, just as in Inclusive Church we are committed to refusing to skip over those who can be made to feel like the difficult, challenging or awkward members of the people of God.”

Revd Dr Louis Weil (Berkeley, California) spoke about the central place baptism holds in our ecclesial understanding. Speaking of the sacraments of baptism and communion, he said “our obsession with validity has weakened the boldness of the sacramental signs. This creates a low level of expectation and weakens our understanding of mission.” We are in communion with one another by God’s grace, not by any human action. “I am in communion with Peter Akinola (the Archbishop of Nigeria)” he said. “I will remain in communion with Peter Akinola until we are both on the other side.”

Canon Lucy Winkett (St Paul’s Cathedral) spoke of the need to “forge relationships on the anvil of profound disagreement.” “The worry that we have as Anglicans is that our faith can be so driven by fear that our liturgy is tedious and our public pronouncements shrill and irrelevant.” In a powerful and wide ranging address she called for engagement with others across the theological spectrum.

Mark Russell, the Chief Executive of Church Army, sent us out into the world, calling passionately for the church to unite. “Unity is not saying that we will always agree with each other, unity is a deeper spiritual concept. Unity allows me to love my brothers and sisters even when I don’t always agree with them. Love allows me to hold difference and diversity.” He challenged us to “go from here, with a renewed vision to pursue a costly unity, and a vision to bring a gospel of hope to all.”

Giles Goddard said in remarks that opened the conference:

We believe that the Gospel as it has been received by the Church of England and across the Communion has something special to say about the love of God and the love of Jesus Christ. Something about welcome; something about openness, and something about including everyone, regardless of who, what or why they are.

Read more here. From this page you will be able to link to full texts of the lectures given.

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