Friday, January 27, 2006

Lambeth 2008 and Anglican Congress 2007

It is still unclear who will be invited to Lambeth 2008. A commentary in the Church Times that appeared last November called for blanket invitations:

...There is, however, one thing that Dr Williams needs to do urgently. He must make it plain and public that all properly consecrated bishops will be invited to the next Lambeth Conference...

...If Dr Williams fails to act now, we might well descend to the next stage in the exclusion process. It is hard to believe that the Global South Primates will let a ban on ECUSA keep sympathetic US conservatives from Lambeth 2008. We can therefore expect to see either an alternative contender for the Anglican title emerging in the US, or the development of a formula — possibly a statement of faith that has to be signed by those wishing to attend — that will separate the conservative sheep from the liberal goats. Anything of the sort must be nipped in the bud, and for that Dr Williams must move off the back foot...
Dr. Tom Wright, Bishop of Durham and member of the Commission that authored the Windsor Report, refuted this suggestion:

...It is therefore hard to see how a "blanket invitation" to Lambeth, such as this paper urged (Leader comment, 25 November), can be issued to all bishops, irrespective of the Windsor-report rubric. This is a matter of both logic and process.

Logic: those who have disregarded the resolutions of the Lambeth Conference, and have not said that they regretted doing so, can hardly claim the right to be part of a body that they have so obviously disregarded.

Process: the Archbishop of Canterbury, having commissioned the Windsor report and convened the Primates, can hardly ignore the recommendations of that report and that meeting. If he is to "hold his ground", as some have suggested, this is the ground to be held. In this, the Archbishop deserves the full support that the General Synod promised him in February...
Keep in mind that it is not only Bishop Robinson who is in question here. The Windsor Report (which is a recommendation, not law, making Bp. Wright's "rubric" reference rather unfortunate) also includes this recommendation:

...those who took part as consecrators of Gene Robinson should be invited to consider in all conscience whether they should withdraw themselves from representative functions in the Anglican Communion...
One might assume that being present at Lambeth would qualify as a "representative function".

I've suggested before that if any bishops of the Episcopal Church are not invited to Lambeth, all our bishops should "choose this day" (sorry...couldn't resist) to pass up this invitation. Some who visit here have pointed out that such a response might be seen as "walking away". The suggestion has been made that Bishop Robinson, and any others who might be excluded, be present anyway, and challenge the decision of Dr. Williams. This idea certainly has merit, if the challenge is heard loud and clear, which is questionable.

I find it frustrating for the Episcopal Church to be seen by some as being on the defensive because of our attempt to respond to the pastoral needs of our people. Must we constantly be responding to every new ploy of the extremists bent on destroying the Episcopal Church? Instead of simply reacting, isn't there anything pro-active we might do?

Maybe there is. A proposal to hold the Anglican Congress in South Africa in 2007 is being revived:

Liberal US bishops and clergy will this month revive a failed plan for an Anglican Congress in Cape Town in 2007. But conservative leaders believe that the Congress could be a direct challenge to the authority of the 10-yearly Lambeth Conference. The original initiative of the Anglican Consultative Council for a congress to be held alongside the Lambeth Conference in South Africa in 2008 was rejected by the organising ‘Design Group’ as too costly.

They also opted to return the bishops-only conference to Canterbury and exclude suffragan and area bishops in order to make the event affordable. But led by Bishop Orris Walker of Long Island and Canon John Peterson, the former Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion Office, liberal clergy believe they can organise and secure funding for the event. Canon Harold Lewis, said that the “scope, attendance, venue and dates of the pan-Anglican Congress will be determined at a planning meeting in Cape Town with the Archbishop, Njongonkulu Ndungane"...
The Living Church offers us a little more information:

...Bishop Walker said that Archbishop Ndungane had also invited the Bishop of Washington, the Rt. Rev. John B. Chane; the Rev. Canon John L. Peterson, former ACC secretary general and now canon for global justice and reconciliation at Washington National Cathedral; the Rev. Canon George W. Brandt, Jr., rector of St. Michael’s, New York City; the Rev. James Cooper, rector of Trinity Church Wall Street; the Rev Canon Harold T. Lewis, rector of Calvary Church, Pittsburgh; the Rev. Canon Frederick Boyd Williams, rector of the Church of the Intercession, New York City; and Canon Diane M. Porter, deputy for Episcopal administration in the Diocese of Long Island...
This proposed Anglican Congress is not to be confused with this one, or this one, or this one. Here's a brief explanation of what the Anglican Congress has been in the past, and what it might become in the future, by Ian Douglas:

...Now there are other ways that Anglicans “meet” in the words of Archbishop Tutu. There are the Anglican Congresses of 1908 in London, 1954 in Minneapolis, and 1963 in Toronto, where hundreds of lay and ordained leaders (once again lay and ordained) from each church in the Anglican Communion came together to see how Anglicans around the globe could better serve God’s mission in the world. You might recall the great vision for Anglican mission “Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence in the Body of Christ”(or MRI for short) that resulted from the 1963 Anglican Congress. MRI gave Anglicanism a vision for mutuality in mission that has carried the day for the last five decades. Now a fourth Anglican Congress (or Anglican Gathering as it is being called) is planned for Cape Town, South Africa in July of 2008. And, as in the past congresses, this Gathering will be composed of a majority of lay people and will focus on what we Anglicans can do to make God’s saving and reconciling love known in the world. In my opinion the 2008 Gathering could be one of the most important events in the life of the contemporary Anglican Communion as it galvanizes us to faithful and united service in God’s mission.
The 2008 plan was dropped, due to funding difficulties. Now it is being revived, and scheduled for 2007.

A gathering to "galvanize us to faithful and united service", which includes all four orders of ministry. I like it. And, to top it off, it will be prior to Lambeth, so will be an opportunity for our bishops to hear the voice of the people of God loud and clear. Let's go!


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