Monday, 4 August 2008

Lambeth, Back Home!

Dear Ones,

Well, I am actually back on US soil and looking forward to a few weeks of vacation with my family, who is with me now. I missed them so. My last Lambeth post will be my pastoral letter to the diocese, just sent out tonight and posted now here. Blessings to you all! For those who commented, thanks for taking the time to peer in. I hope it was helpful!

A Pastoral Letter in response to Lambeth Conference from the Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel, Bishop of Olympia to the People of the Diocese.

Dear Ones,

A message from our Presiding Bishop

Lambeth 2008

Many bishops came to this gathering in fear and trembling, expecting either a distasteful encounter between those of vastly different opinions, or the cold shoulder from those who disagree. The overwhelming reality has been just the opposite. We have prayed, cried, learned, and laughed together, and discovered something deeper about the body of Christ. We know more of the deeply faithful ministry of those in vastly differing contexts, and we have heard repeatedly of the life and death matters confronting vast swaths of the Communion: hunger, disease, lack of education and employment, climate change, war and violence. We have remembered that together we may be the largest network on the planet – able to respond to those life and death issues if we tend to the links, connections, and bonds between us. We have not resolved the differences among us, but have seen the deep need to maintain relationships, even in the face of significant disagreement and discomfort. The Anglican Communion is suffering the birth pangs of something new, which none of us can yet fully appreciate or understand, yet we know that the Spirit continues to work in our midst. At the same time patience is being urged from many quarters, that all may more fully know the leading of the Spirit. God is faithful. May we be faithful as well.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

The statement is available on EpiScope

For complete coverage, be sure to check Episcopal Life Online

Dear Ones,

In the last day of our Lambeth Bible study, we studied John 20:1-19, “that through believing you may have life in his name.” In it we found that we, as Christians, most fully lead our lives as wounded and risen at the same time. The same might be said of this Lambeth Conference. Certainly, we entered this Lambeth with emotions, hopes and wishes that were all over the map. Regardless of just where you might be on that spectrum, I think it would be fair to say we entered Lambeth both wounded and risen. As we now see its end, I don’t see it much differently, but I would say that those who attended are different; we could not help but be so.

At the beginning of the conference a bishop gave us this quote from Mussolini: “It is not that governing Italy is impossible, just pointless.” I am not sure why that has stuck with me but I must say that this wonderful sacred mystery we call the Anglican Communion is a difficult thing to manage or govern. Perhaps God does not exactly want that. The great gift of the Anglican Communion has always been its very uniqueness in the face of many different styles of church throughout the world. All our ecumenical partners who were invited in as full participants said over and over that Anglicanism offers a unique witness in Christianity, and in the religious world, and they hoped we would stay together to be a witness to it.

The struggles we have had and continued to have in these almost three weeks can be summed up in the following manner: We are trying to solve our differences with a modern process imposed upon a postmodern problem. Another way to put it would be from Ron Heifetz’s work, Leadership without Easy Answers: we are trying a technical fix when we have an adaptive challenge on our hands. Our leading edge these past weeks was not to succumb to that temptation. More importantly, I think Jesus operated this way as well. He often led those around him to the most unlikely places, through the most unlikely people.

As the world has become more global so has the Church. It often does not do us well to try to have relationship in this instantaneous communicative world we live in. One can nary have a fleeting thought before it is posted on the World Wide Web, and this does not help our conversations. I am sure the web is humming already. What we had this last three weeks is real conversation, the face-to-face kind, where memos and e-mails cannot hide the incarnated being right before your eyes. There is no delete button or hiding behind the computer screen here. And there is nothing that can substitute for the experience of the primitive ancient church practice and reality of gathering around the Scripture in a small group, under a tree or around a table.

That is not to say that all the conversations during this time have been chummy, as they might say here in England. No; they were direct, even strident at times, but at least we were in the room together. We had to deal with each other. And on this last day, as we shared our hopes and dreams before we left, especially with those in our Indaba and Bible study groups, we realized we had put ourselves in the hand of God, and with Jesus as our guide, the vast majority had been solidified in one thing even if not changed as far as position or theological stripe: we value each other and we value this communion, even more deeply than when we arrived. Tears were shed, smiles were shared, vows were made to pray for one another and to share and talk, even when the rough times come, and we know they will.

I give great credit to the Archbishop of Canterbury in proposing and following through with an agenda and way of being at this conference that was centered on relationships, not legislation. As he said in one of his speeches, “For those of you who are unhappy or wish to criticize this approach, let me ask you: Have the old ways really been all that effective?” He has a very good point. I know many of you are divided as to trusting him or not. I can only tell you he is human, too; he has his strong desires and he is in a most difficult place. In all Christian charity, for now, I intend to trust the current process and work with our Presiding Bishop and our House of Bishops in working with the communion.

The senior bishop in my Indaba, from another province, offered this analysis before he left: a narrative is being proposed by some in the communion and by many in the press that the Anglican Communion is at war and is totally divided. The narrative says that everyone in the communion is in one or the other of these camps. Instead, there is a narrative, what he called the truer narrative, which suggests just what we have lived at Lambeth 2008—those two ends of the spectrum do in fact exist, but there is a huge center that simply wants to get along with mission and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. I would add to this the even more important narrative that we cannot lose: that everyone on that spectrum—everyone, the left, the right, the center—is living out of a deep commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as they have received it, in their context, and are trying to live that with the greatest integrity they can.

We did not resolve anything at Lambeth 2008; however, we did get closer to one another. We did have time to listen to one another. And, as we gather and discuss this in the months and years ahead, I would be glad to share some of the great misconceptions about us and some we had about others that were made clear by our sharing. These alone were worth the price of attending.

One bishop “listener,” the 16 tasked with collecting all of the inputs and putting them into some coherent statement, claimed her frustration by saying there was no way to be scribe and poet at the same time. And I would add even the poet could not completely articulate what has happened to those of us who have walked together during these last days.

I have begun new relationships that I hope will lead to work and relationship for all of us. One very promising connection is with the Rt. Rev. Michael Sande of the Diocese of Butere in Kenya. He and I met several times this week, along with Nedi, and I see the possibility of a growing connection. My Indaba group formed a statement on climate change and the environment which I will publish some time later. Nedi wrote a Rule of Life for us and it is being widely sought after now as a way for us to hold each other in prayer.

So I say to you we still have work to do, in our diocese, in the Episcopal Church and in our Anglican Communion. I am not sure where it will all lead. But the truth is we will always have work to do. It is who we choose to walk with while we do the work that deserves our attention. I do know friends from all over this communion now, who believe in Jesus Christ and his power, and who want to be in relationship with us, even if we don’t see eye to eye on everything. They know the truth of, and are willing to stay in, the wounded and risen nature of our life together.

At our last General Convention I heard a story; I believe it was a visiting Korean Anglican who said to one of our deputies, “We have a story in our country, that porcupines must hug one another to get through the winter. It is painful, but in order to survive they must hold each other tight. It seems your church is in the winter now.” Wounded and risen. Our Indaba, to my great joy, ended its last time together with my favorite prayer in the prayer book and I leave you with it now, too.

O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever." AMEN



Sunday, 3 August 2008

Lambeth, August 3rd

Dear Ones,

The last day. A bittersweet moment actually. The Bible Studies and the Indaba's have been a blessing in so many ways. I know you have heard, and will hear more about how these did not work, but just remember there were 670 bishops here and many spouses as well. The vast majority of them shared today in our last day how much these discussions have meant. It was expressed that one cannot go through such an intensive experience and not leave changed. I feel that is very true, and I feel it myself.

My Bible Study was made up of bishops from South Africa, UK, Canada, Malaysia, and Japan. We have vowed to stay in touch and to pray for one another. We are exploring a Rule of Life together. The relationships are profound and it was exactly what was hoped for in the Archbishop's and the Design Team's work. The idea is, we cannot work out the very delicate and intricate issues that arise in this communion, without relationship.

After lunch, we entered the Big Top for one final time. It was a very cool day in Canterbury, with some rain as well, a lot like home! But that was welcomed as we all came into the Big Top. Upon our entering we were presented with the "Lambeth Indaba: Capturing Conversations and Reflections from the Lambeth Conference 2008." This was put together by the 16 member "listening" group. One member from each Indaba, with careful consideration to make sure there was as wide of representation as possible. The two Americans were Bishop Neil Alexander of Atlanta and Bishop Gerylyn Wolf of Rhode Island. Bishop Wolf actually was the representative from my Indaba. This group has worked around the clock, literally, and they were tired. It was not never proposed to be a document to solve things, not a legislative document, but a "reflection" of what we were about, and where our minds are right now, to the best of their ability. Many of you have probably read it more closely than I have had a chance to yet. Afterwards the Archbishop of York played the drums! Picture above!

At the plenary, the Archbishop thanked a lot of people. I was even included in one thank you as a leader of one of the Bible Studies. After those, we heard from our ecumenical partners who have been full participants in this process. Kallistos Ware, who is Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia of the Eastern Orthodox Church said, "your joys and sorrows are our joys and sorrows, and your problems are our problems, and if they are not yet our problems, they will be!" He went on to be quite clear about what he saw, we did not clear up everything, but he was also clear in saying, "I need you to be who I am!"

Jane Williams, the Archbishop's wife, led some from the Spouse's Conference in sharing their experiences. Thier experiences were much the same and resulted in some deep and abiding connections. Both the Archbishop and Mrs. Williams were given warm, and long, ovations.

We then boarded buses in route to Canterbury Cathedral for our closing Eucharist. We once again paraded down that street, past the Starbuck's, and through Christ Gate to the cathedral grounds. Again, stewards lined the streets to make a path, and to make sure we saw smiling faces, of which there were many.

The service was absolutely beautiful. I have provided one picture above that does not do it justice. The boy's and men's choirs sang. The Archbishop of Melenesia presided, the Archbishop of Canterbury preached, telling us to share the story, a story that should make "something happen." One of the most moving moments was toward the end. The names of the Melenesia martyrs murdered in 2000 were recieved by the Archbishop of Canterbury. He prayed over them and then the Melenesia brothers and sisters present took the names, along with the Archbishop of Melenesia, singing their litany of the saints and martyrs, a beautiful, haunting tune, as they did. Their singing would echo as it got fainter and fainter as they took the names to the Chapel of Saints and Martyrs of Our Own Time.

We then were treated to a dinner on the grounds and then back to the University to pack, to get ready, in my case, for a 5 a.m. bus ride to Gatwick.

I will be posting one more time on this blog, my last reflection on this blog as Lambeth ends. I hope to post it tomorrow during my travels.

I hope this has been helpful to you. I have enjoyed doing it. I have very much enjoyed your comments. Some have commented with no way to respond, including one clergy from my diocese. Please know I would respond if I knew who you were!!

Until then, I leave you with a prayer used during the intercessions tonight at Canterbury Cathedral;

God our Shepherd, give to the Church a new vision and a new charity,
new wisdom and fresh understanding, the revival of her brightness and the renewal of her unity;that the eternal message of your Son may be hailed as the good news of the new age; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.



Saturday, 2 August 2008

Lambeth, August 2nd

Dear Ones,

I am not really going to be able to explain the first picture above. It is a public registrar's office I have passed everyday on my walks. I see it every time and wonder how it sums up something about our walk through life and all we have been about here in Canterbury. I offer it to you. Another one I saw but could not get a good picture of said "Bishops: acquired for clients". It is one way to do it!

Today started as the rest, Eucharist at 7:15 provided by the Anglican Church of Kenya, breakfast, then Bible Study on John 18:1-18. I think our Bible Study participants are mourning a bit. It has been truly transforming to be in these small groups, studying Scripture, and simply sharing our stories, how they relate and intersect with the gospel of Jesus Christ, and even more putting names and faces to the Communion. Tomorrow will be our last meeting.

We then went to our Indaba group for a meeting entitled "Fostering Our Common Life: The Bishop, The Anglican Covenant, and the Windsor Process." There was no consensus and in fact, in my group, I would say there are feelings that range from no covenant at all no matter what, to those simply open to the idea and not committing (perhaps the largest group), to those convinced it is the only way forward. I am becoming less and less convinced that it is the answer. I intend to address that in my last post from the conference. Today was our last Self Select workshop and I attended "The Science of Climate Change" which was headed by Professor Ian James, University of Reading, UK. He is also ordained. He gave an excellent presentation, much of which I have seen before but also new information is always coming out.

I must say that I keep hearing occasionally from other bishops, from some of our US congressman, and others that there is a lot of "science" that debunks the current science that seems to overwhelmingly corroborate that we have a serious humanmade problem on our hands. I have asked these folks, sometimes in person, sometimes in writing to supply me with this science or at least links to it, and I still have yet to recieve it. In all seriousness I would like to see the other side. I asked Professor James to direct me to some. He was at a loss saying that there are many articles debunking it, but hard science he had not seen either. We have a problem and a short time in which to address it, but I keep saying I am willing to look at the side that says we have no problem, or at least it is not a human made one.

This afternoon a special hearing was called to listen one final time to the reflections group, putting together the final draft of our reflections of these past weeks. If you were expecting a definitive answer on matters, you will most likely be dissappointed, but what lies behind it and I believe a lot of what will be in the statement, will speak to what Anglicanism is all about, what Lambeth is supposed to be about, and will be an investment that is well worth if for our future. What can't be captured in a statement of any kind are the miraculous meetings that occur at lunch, and dinner, and in the wonderful ques, lines, we stand in for everything. It is difficult to engage here and not learn, no matter where you are from.

The Church of Ireland provided evening worship. After dinner a plenary was offered in which four of our stewards, the young people from all over the communion, offered their reflections of these past weeks. Just a reminder, the stewards are those folks who wear bright yellow jackets, with "Steward" written across the back and direct us. They are essentially crowd control, and yet so much more. Stewards from Southwest Florida, the Seychelles, South Africa, and the UK offered reflections and then opened the floor for questions. It was pointed out that when questions have been taken this week they have been written on cards and turned in, but not tonight, they were taken fresh, off the cuff, from the floor.

This was amazing just as I thought it would be. These are truly stunning young people, divinity school students and graduates, cardiovascular medical students, and the list goes on and on. Some of them are in youth ministry now, some wanting to be ordained. Solo from the Seychelles wanted us to know that mass is often boring, sermons boring, music too slow and old. He also wanted us to know that even when it does not seem like it they want to know, youth love for you to tell them your stories.

Penny from the UK said that all she knew of bishops was that you had to clean up the church before they came, and it usually just meant more work for her. But, she said, "after spending these three weeks with you I can say you all are pretty colorful characters. " Please, she asked, don't wait for us, let us use our skills and talents now. In one of the more poignant moments she said to us, that being with us these three weeks has given her great hope and has fed her desire to be ordained. She said, 30 years from now I hope I will be here, wearing a purple shirt! This was greeted with raucous applause (think about that, a bit of a informal vote!) She hesitated and said, "When I have recently told my friends this, they have said, don't be silly, the Anglican Communion won't be here in 30 years!" She said, these past three weeks have made her know it will be and she implored us to stick with it, and she promised if we did, her generation would care for it too.

When they were asked what we should do about this, and I believe our own Nedi Rivera asked them this question, they said we need better music and maybe some dancing! I am sure Nedi liked that answer! Maybe hip hop once in a while. The next questioner told them not to expect him to hip hop dance, it would not be pretty. He then asked what is there not enough of? To which the wise Penny replied, "Not enough hip hop dancing!" While it was funny, I think we need to hear it. What we may least like to do, or feel we are least equipped to do, may be exactly what is needed. And we may just need to get comfortable enough to do it!

They went on to say we should not wait for youth to respond to what we have created for them, but instead ask them to create it.

When they were asked what they most loved about Jesus, they responded with his coolness, his good attitude, one said that Jesus could cry and showed sorrow for his friends.

When they were asked what specifically brought them hope in watching us these past weeks they said, the relationships they saw building here, the diversity, and as one put it so well, seeing people talking to each other not because they had to, but because they wanted to. Amen to that!



Friday, 1 August 2008

Lambeth, August 1st

Dear Ones,

Today was "Ordinary Day 10" You may note as we did that ordinary day 9 was left out, it was left out in our agenda as well. Don't know where 9 was, we can only hope that was not the day everything would have been revealed! In all seriousness, our good work goes on. I have to tell you this day was a good one. It began once again with Eucharist at 7:15 a.m. provided by The Church of Pakistan, breakfast, and then Bible Study, today on John 15: 1-17. We then went to our Indaba group where we continued our discussion of scripture and also recieved the third draft of the listening group who is diligent working on a response from us. Amazingly, with only a few minor changes, the whole group really appreciated and liked it! While nothing we put out will solve many of our problems, our relationships continue to build and we do continue to find common ground among one another. We then had a break and then another Indaba meeting. At this meeting we discussed the proposed covenant and especially the St. Andrew's Draft. Regardless of what you might have heard about the inevitability of such a document, there is far from overall agreement on this. However, the document has provided an excellent way to discuss our life together.

In the midst of our discussion today on the covenant and a possibility of one, I was reminded, and shared with my Indaba group, that incursions into dioceses by non-jurisdictional bishops have been going on since before the last Lambeth Conference. In fact, I remember being on a conference call with my then bishop, Bishop Larry Maze of Arkansas as he discussed with then Archbishop Carey the fact that the Bishop of Rwanda was coming into Arkansas and functioning without permission. Nothing was done then, and the AMiA grew out of this. This was long before the ordination of Gene Robinson as bishop. While this has been going on for some time, it will most likely continue, but I do believe progress has been made. Will it be enough for all? I doubt it, but quite frankly there is not enough we could do for some who have made up their mind. One of our 38 primates told the press even before the retreat was over and this conference had officially begun that the communion "was over." While we disagree about much, this kind of leadership will not lead us forward toward the counter cultural response Jesus calls us to.

In my Bible Study today one of our members told us the story of Ghandi, once given a New Testament. He read it all in short order and then entered a Christian church some weeks later. He walked out and commented that he saw no resemblance whatsoever in what he experienced that day and what he had read of Jesus in that book. The vast majority here are trying to remember that.

Tonight, evening worship was provided by the Church of the Province of South East Asia. Lively and good! Tonight I attended the Affirming Catholicism presentation which was excellent and well attended.

The press remains frustrated, so much so that many of them are making up stories, and misquoting as well. Read it if you must, but please don't believe it without some true research and inspection.

Blessings as you greet August,