Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Lambeth is finally over and the buzz is on as to what actually took place or not!
Predictably no one seems particularly pleased at the outcome of the Conference. Bishops, media and bloggers have been quite busy over the last month either criticizing or lauding the meeting format. Too restrictive and controlled alleged some, a good way to meet and converse in small groups said others. Difficult, honest conversations took place reported a few bishops, a lame waste of time and money was the impression of others.
Some things stand out for me at the conclusion of this Lambeth, my first as an Episcopalian;
The obvious one is there is still an Anglican Communion something which seemed doubtful a few months ago. Despite all the pre conference talk of schism, many bishops seem to remain committed to relationships and to the idea of a worldwide family of churches.
Secondly, +Gene Robinson, duly elected and consecrated bishop of New Hampshire who was excluded from the conference and inhibited from celebrating the Eucharist in England. It was precisely this which made him the more visible to press as he made the case for inclusion of the GLBT in all areas of the church....many heard!
GAFCON and the absence of 200 or so conservative bishops, mainly from Africa certainly was of significance. Their unwillingness to participate certainly sends a foreboding message for the future of a united Anglican Communion! Lambeth was impoverished by their boycott. Despite this, the case for a conservative reading of the Bible in reference to sexual ethics and the traditional understanding of the sacrament of marriage was made clearly by most bishops present in the conference. This surely was felt by the Episcopal Church!
The Archbishop of Canterbury surprisingly came out as a more imposing figure than I supposed. His leadership in the early retreats and conference seemed to raise his stature in the eyes of the bishops , and certainly so in mine.
I guess the last thing is the Lambeth Reflections document, fruit of the bishops conversations. For most people the key elements are those related to sexuality and the proposed moratoria…no new openly gay and partnered bishops , no church blessings for same sex couples and no unwelcome intervention of one province on the life of another. Though these ideas were well articulated in writing, it seems very unlikely these will happen in reality.
...I do not think Lambeth was lame but those who may have been looking for ironclad unity or quick solutions to the Anglican Communion’s problems to come from Lambeth are sure to find it quite dissapointing! One thing remains clear to me at the conclusion of this conference, we must trust the future of the Church into the hands of the only one who can lead it, guard it protect it for error, violence and schism…its Lord Jesus Christ.
We often look to human instruments to ensure the unity and agreement that has always eluded us, but perhaps, the message to keep in mind is that the Church is united at the Eucharist with Christ at the very center . In the end that may be all that is needed…