I took a break from blogging today in hopes of getting a life. That turned out to be much more difficult than I had anticipated, so I have returned with more news from Tanzania. It is a commentary on the state of the Communion that on this day, when the Primates focused some of their attention on the essential work of the Church–theological education, caring for the poor–people are saying that “not much happened.”
That isn’t quite the case. Here’s ENS’s story on the day’s proceedings. And here’s another one from Matthew Davies which points out that contrary to the wishes of Peter and the Akinolytes, the Episcopal Church continues to do important work in Africa.
“Hellen Wangusa, the new Anglican UN Observer gave a stirring talk on her role as UN Observer and the importance of the Millennium Development Goals. These are intended to reduce by one half the number of people living in poverty by 2015. But she said, our Biblical mandate is greater than that. We know that ‘when one half of the world is sick, the world is sick’.
Chris Sugden of the conservative UK organization, Anglican Mainstream, hasn’t been getting enough sleep. He rose to ask how our faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord who forgives our sin was involved in this. How, he enquired, did what we were talking about differ from what a governmental agency might do? He hadn’t heard that explained. Mrs. Wangusa did not miss a beat, responding ‘I am really surprised, I am really surprised, because I already said…’ that our Biblical mandate is to go beyond the 50% threshold. When Jesus saw the people were hungry he looked at what he had and then he fed all of them, not half.”
Sugden is slow to learn his lesson. This is the second time he has attempted to embarrass a female speaker at a major Anglican gathering, and the second time the presenter has embarrassed him instead. He tried it with Bishop Jefferts Schori just after she was elected at our General Convention.
Here’s the relevant paragraph from a story I wrote at the time:
When the Rev. Chris Sugden of the conservative British advocacy group Anglican Mainstream asked her how she thought average Anglicans, whom he described as predominantly young, poor, African and evangelical, would respond to the news that she had voted to confirm the election of the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003, Jefferts Schori said she thought if Sugden’s description were correct, the average Anglican was probably more interested in issues including hunger, inadequate housing, unclean water and limited access to education.
By the way, why does anyone entertain the fiction that Chris Sugden is a journalist who ought to have access to press conferences anyway? He’s in closed meeting with Peter Akinola one minute and then lobbing questions at Akinola’s targets the next. It’s like letting a lobbyist come to a news conference.