BB NOTE: John Howe, Bishop of Central Florida and BabyBlue's former rector, reports on the first full day of the Lambeth Conference. He gives an honest - very honest - overview of the day, including the first meeting of the "Indaba" groups and his report is definitely a must-read. He follows this with an insider's look at the first meeting of the members of the House of Bishops in Lambeth where they spent most of their time trying to figure out how to get Gene in the door. There's more to come on that front.
UPDATE: The Bishop of Arizona has posted more info on his blog regarding the attempts from behind the scenes to do a publicity stunt that would bring all the Episcopal House of Bishops present at Lambeth together with Gene Robinson who's still hanging out and looking for friends. Whoo Hoo! Film at 11. And that is what it would be, especially if they move somewhere off-site which seems to be their intention. Stick that in your eye, Rowan Williams. Don't think for a second you can tell Americans what to do. Ah, and then would come the next step - which bishop shows up, which bishop doesn't, who's in, who's out - yada, yada, yada. Bishop Kirk Smith writes:
"We had a meeting of the American Bishops in the Big Tent this afternoon and one of the topics was the status of Gene Robinson, who you know has not been invited. There is some misinformation I want to clear up: Gene was NOT excluded from the HOB meeting! He was invited to join us and accepted. The problem was that we are in conference facilities and since he has not been invited to the Conference, he was not given security clearance. Know that the American HOB is concerned about this and it is working on a way that Gene can be included. Stay tuned.By the way, just as an aside mind you, we hear from a primary witness that Bishop Martyn Minns and his family went to Sunday morning worship yesterday at an Episcopal church in New York City this past weekend.
Here's John Howe's report for today:
Today was the first full day of the Lambeth Conference per se, and for me, it was a less than auspicious beginning. Following the morning Eucharist and breakfast we had our Bible Study, as usual (our group was joined today by a Bishop from the Russian Orthodox Church, who seems, on first acquaintance, a great addition).Photo by George Conger.
Then we went to the first Indaba meeting, in which the members of five Bible Study groups came together in a large room. Our group had 43 or 44 members. During the first session, about fifteen people introduced themselves and their Dioceses: the non-English speaking Bishops (through interpreters), and the Ecumenical guests, as well as three or four other Bishops. The only American included in that introduction was Jon Bruno from Los Angeles, who spoke glowingly of his being a "totally inclusive" Diocese that has approximately a 20% membership of gay and lesbian people, and in a state that has opened the door to same-sex marriages, "that we are trying to come to grips with."
We were then asked to answer three questions: 1) what major thought or insight did you come away from the retreat with? 2) how does your Diocese see itself? 3) what does being an Anglican Bishop mean to you? (They were looking for "convergences" here. What we came up with was: "The Bishop is a leader in mission." Pretty profound, huh?)
In the afternoon session we were given a two page paper entitled "The Anglican Way: Signposts on a common Journey" (produced by the Anglican Way Consultation meeting in Singapore in 2007), that suggests the Anglican Way is: "Formed by Scripture; Shaped through Worship; Ordered for Communion; and Directed by God's Mission."
During the break, a picture of each of these signposts had been taped up, one on each of the four walls. We were asked to gather around each of the four pictures in succession, while someone read that section of the paper to us. Then we were asked to "self select" and divide into four groups, each to discuss one of the four sections/Signposts.
My group had thirteen in it, seven of whom spoke. It was difficult to hear because there were three other conversations going on in the same room simultaneously. The statement itself wasn't bad. If you care to read it you will find it at: http://www.anglicancommunion.org/ministry/theological/signposts/english.cfm
But the process was asinine. First of all, why combine five Bible Study groups, if you are then going to sub-divide them into four groups? Secondly, what is the point of this discussion of a document we are seeing for the first time? It seemed more appropriate to a junior high Confirmation Class than to a world-wide gathering of Anglican Bishops. And thirdly, why in the world were we having these conversations in the same room at the same time? (At a cost of approximately $8 million just for the Bishops' part of the Conference!)
Well, things may improve. I remind myself of the Archbishop's comment that, "A failure in leadership is a failure to hope in Christ."
An hour long gathering of the American Bishops in mid-afternoon was equally disappointing. Presiding Bishop Schori called us together "just to check in with each other and share any concerns." Fully two-thirds of our time was spent discussing Gene Robinson's sadness - and the injustice! - over his not being allowed to be part even of this meeting of "his own House."
(Conference organizers responded to objections that: "This is NOT a meeting of the House of Bishops; it is a gathering of American Bishops at a meeting of the Lambeth Conference, and only those invited to the Conference can be part of the gathering.")
There was talk of possibly organizing another meeting of the American Bishops offsite somewhere so Gene can be part of it.
The day was not a complete loss! The Archbishop put on the first of three special dinners for the first third of our Conference attendees tonight, and I happened to draw an invitation to it. Quite lovely; he and Lady Jane are very gracious hosts.
But please do pray that we will make better use of our time from here on out.