I have only been an Episcopalian for a little less than 5 years now, so this is the first time I’ve observed from afar what went on at the Lambeth Conference which just ended this past weekend. I give thanks to everyone who took time to report back their perspectives of what was going on, from blogging bishops in the US, Canada, the UK, Brazil, and everyone who was doing the work of advancing the Kingdom on the fringes and in the marketplace, especially to +Gene Robinson, Susan Russell+, Elizabeth Kaeton+, and Katie Sherrod.
All in all, despite all the money that was spent and the disappointments that came out of the last few days of the conference, I believe that it was A Good Thing, and an Important Thing to have. Looking at things from the perspective of the bishops, it seems that a lot of good (and at times difficult! ) conversations were had and new relationships forged, and people have begun to appreciate others’ viewpoints whereas before they most likely only read about them via newsfeeds, blogs and other media. You can read all you want, but nothing replaces a face – to – face encounter.
As I have commented on other folks blogs, the non-invitation of +Gene Robinson and his presence on the fringes of the conference made him a bigger rock star than the British Press is making +Rowan Williams out to be, and +Gene’s witness is much more powerful and persuasive on the outside than it would have been inside. From reading +Gene’s blog and from reading about other accounts from the marketplace, it seems that the Lord was definitely at work in the hearts and minds of people. Our faith is an Incarnational one, one that is lived out and given flesh, not one that is read about, so I am all in favour of people getting together in the flesh as faithful followers of Christ.
I recently had a conversation via email with a conservative priest in the Diocese of Central Florida, and what was great about it was that we did not agree on too much, and we will probably won’t in the near future, but we saw in each other a faithfulness in our commitment to Christ and to the Church, and therefore, a mutual respect. I think that conversation is a glimpse into what happened in many cases at Lambeth.
All of that being said, I do have to say that while it is not entirely surprising that the reflections document contained calls for moratoria on partnered gay bishops and blessings of unions, it is disheartening. It is discouraging all the more so because in spite of our HUGE presence in the marketplace the GLBT witness is still one that is talked about, and not spoken with. The Covenant, it seems, is going forward and +Rowan’s newly found ecclesial capital has given it the steam to continue down the road we’re on. I do find it VERY discouraging that the people who are asked to be making sacrifices are the one people that are NOT being spoken to face to face and are not being allowed that Incarnational encounter.
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