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?