At breakfast this morning, someone passed me TS Eliot’s response to the report of the Lambeth Conference of 1930. He says, ‘The Report … is rather the exposition of the ways in which the church is moving than an instruction to the faithful on belief and conduct.’ In other words, a staging post rather than an end point.
Readers of this blog will know that I have always believed that people were over-hyping this conference. I have never expected that this might be the point at which the big issues in the Anglican Communion would be finally sorted out. I think that the most we can expect is that some positive movement will emerge – a new dynamic which may help us to deal with our diversity. For myself, I can say that I feel part of the Anglican Communion now in a way which I have never felt before. I have acquired friends all over the Anglican world and they will remain part of my landscape. There is also evident everywhere in this Conference a desire to cohere – people understand that we shall all be diminished if we lose the struggle to remain together.
Our Bible Study Group continues to deal with the difficult issues with courage and grace.
I don’t think the Indaba process will deliver what we need. We would need to set for hours and hours. We are giving too little time to it and trying to cover too much ground.
This Conference has been running for nearly two weeks. I simply cannot understand why it will be Thursday before we reach ‘The Bishop and Human Sexuality.’ To rush the big issues at the end of a Conference is never wise. I went today to the hearings of the Windsor Continuation Group. Bishops from all over the world were being allowed three minutes each to speak on very complex issues – yellow card after two minutes and red after three. Differences were being aired with grace and dignity. But it was not a graceful or dignified process.
If there is a channel through which issues like this can be raised with the management of the conference, I have not yet found it. Maybe there are different cultures at work here as regards expectations of how a conference can evolve as it happens.
That certainly sounds like a perfectly reasonable view – taking the long view. One doesn’t feel so sanguine from within it as time ebbs away!
In theological college days back in the early-1980s, the reports of the Lambeth Conferences were seen as authoritative documents, expositions of Anglican doctrine and moral theology. I don’t think many people in these islands would perceive the Conference as an authoritative body now. I think that is not so much a reflection on the Conference as a reflection of perceptions of authority. Perhaps, then, the value of the Conference is not in coming to conclusions, but in allowing a voice and so creating a bond.
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