Friday, July 25, 2008

Lambeth contrasts

Forgive me, dear readers, for continuing to focus on the Lambeth conference, the once-a-decade gathering of Anglican bishops from around the world in the U.K. The contrasts are fascinating. Yesterday the bishops joined together to march through the streets in their purple cassocks, heard a speech by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and met with the Queen for tea. 

Still the battle rages for the heart and soul of the Anglican Communion, the third largest branch of Christianity in the world. The Windsor Continuation Group, composed entirely of bishops, proposed a stronger more centralized Anglican authority. That proposal was met warily by American and Canadian bishops who stand for more lay involvement in the governance of the church and for the inclusion of gays and lesbians. The Episcopal Cafe has an excellent analysis of these issues. It seems to me that the proposal stands in sharp contrast to the "Indaba" method of conversation-through-relationship that has so enthralled many of the bishops. 

I have another place for you to stop today, outside the gates of the Lambeth conference at the Marketplace. The British group Ekklesia has a report on a Marketplace display focusing on human rights, and what the bishops are missing by not having Gene Robinson present.

And the bishops continuing blogging their impressions (who would have thought ten years ago at the last Lambeth that bishops would be posting their thoughts on the internet?). My favorite of the day comes from Arkansas Bishop Larry Benfield

Following the brief program, we enjoyed fellowship and lunch in Lambeth Palace Gardens.  I took the time to visit the palace library to enjoy the rich historical documents so important to our communion.  As I saw up close a copy of one of the first Books of Common Prayer and reaquainted myself with some of our history up close and personal, I was once again reminded that this is not the first time that the church has been in conflict.  The way in which we approach our current issues seems to me to be at least as important as how they are resolved.  In fact, we still live with some of the unresolved conflict from the past which is part of who we are.

Later in the afternoon we enjoyed tea with the Queen and her one thousand closest friends.  Standing in the gardens at Buckingham Palace watching the Queen of England make her way through the sea of bishops, I wondered if anyone could have imagined this kind of Anglican Communion in the 16th century.  I wonder, even more, what it will be like at my fifth Lambeth Conference. My role is one of committed wondering.  Ultimately, God will shape the future.  I, for one, am glad it's not up to us.

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