Thursday, July 17, 2008

Anglican Mainstream: Inside the Big Top

Anglican Mainstream is on site in Canterbury and reporting daily. Here is their first report. Are the TEC Bishops planning to seat Gene Robinson after all? One thing we know is that there is nothing like a room full of bishops to see the gossip flow. Ah, but there is always a thin line between gossip and strategic planning.


This is the first of regular daily blogs which will come live from our support team at Lambeth. You will get to know us as the days go by. We are sharing accommodations with two bishops and their wives who are reflecting with us on their experience of this global gathering.

We begin with the visuals and the physical impact of the site. The main plenaries are being held in a large blue ‘big top’ circus tent on the University of Kent campus. This is surrounded by a seven foot high wire fence whose entrances are manned by security guards. We are hoping to find out what security threat they are guarding against since Gene Robinson is not present at the plenaries.

The Welcome Meeting (for the Bishops and their Wives) took place on Wednesday evening and consisted mainly of logistical arrangements, introductions, and choir practice. Archbishop Williams’ introduction did not shrink from recognising the pain of missing brethren. Thursday morning began with Eucharist (without a homily) followed by Bible study based on the Gospel of John. The bishops then were taken by coach to Canterbury Cathedral for two addresses by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Our discussion with orthodox bishops thought that this was what he did best: leading a spiritual retreat at which people could have listened to him for hours.

Our bishops’ question was whether this would lead to any substantial result. It is already rumoured that TEC bishops are planning a popular move among the indaba groups to call for Gene Robinson to be seated as a full member of the conference.

Two absentees were public news today, Bishop John David Schofield was technically disinvited though the language used in relation to this skates over this fact. Bishop Ed Salmon formerly of South Carolina who had made all his bookings and reservations prior to the second election of Bishop Mark Lawrence heard that he was no longer invited well after he had made non-refundable reservations. He is attending as press.

Moreover, a bishop from Canada has said freely that once Lambeth is over the Canadian church will be moving forward apace with same-sex blessings etc. This gives substance to the observation that there is denial in what looks to be a potentially schizophrenic conference. Everyone knows that the North American lobbies are determined to have their agenda affirmed. However, all the processes of the conference in plenary addresses and small discussion groups mean that there is no place for the whole conference to hear itself think and address this elephant in the room.

The bishops are clearly valuing the focus on worship, Bible study and spiritual input in a historic cathedral setting. This is obviously a very good place to start. But where is it all going?


Anonymous said...

Cherie missed some very important distinctions.

The Bishops of Recife were never given a letter by the ABC, recognizing their episcopal status, but Bishop Schofield DID receive such a letter. Further, Bishop Schofield DID receive an invitation to Lambeth, but DID NOT receive a revocation of it.

The loser here is TEC. They needed a REVOCATION of Bishop Schofield's invitation to Lambeth and affirmation that their supposed deposition of him was valid. They got nothing. Only fudge.

Meanwhile, Archbishop Venables is no one to be trifled with. He knows when people are being duplicitous and how to expose it. He also has a host of allies to back him up, all of whom recognize Bishop Schofield. GAFCON may prove in the end to make the ACC and the watered-down Covenant irrelevant, while the ABC finds his own influence waning as well.


Anonymous said...

The fence serves to provide security for the bishops assembled.

Security from what kind of threat, you may ask. From the top of my head:

-activists from either side of the controversy around sexuality.
-activists from colourful groups as Fathers for Justice, whom we are almost certain will place themselves on top of some building around the big top, for a better exposure to the media, always so avid of scandals and big, big type size headlines.
-enemies of whoever the bishop may be. Say, bishops coming from war zones, the middle east, or Kent County itself, where as with the rest of England, a knife epidemic is making a joke out of cctv cameras.
Yes, the fact that there will be more small group talk than plenary sessions work means that some issues will remain unaddressed. Like, for example, the presence of such a prestigious character as Howard Ahmanson at Gafcon. That would be a good starting point.

O wait you'd only be interested in the rumour about US bishops attempting to have Gene seated.

Even when you know that is not going to happen.

Say hello to Gledhill for me. You two seem to be competing as to who manages to push the more rumours into the blogosphere.