Friday, July 18, 2008

The Lambeth Conference Has Opened

I have purposely avoided blogging about this, since there is so much other coverage already. The Lambeth Conference is a gathering of (nearly) all the Anglican and Episcopalian bishops in the world. It happens once every ten years at the University of Kent, in England. Its convenor is The Archbishop of Canterbury, and its main purpose this year is to rebuild community among the worldwide college of bishops. It's being held over three weeks, and it began on Wednesday. Bishop Beckwith, our Bishop, is there, along with all other American bishops except for Gene Robinson, the Bishop of New Hampshire. He was not invited as a sop to the conservative bishops who think it's a sin that an openly gay bishop was consecrated, even though it apparently is not a sin that we've always had gay bishops and priests, but it was OK as long as they were in the closet. Honesty is apparently the real sin here.

In any case, there are plenty of resources covering the Lambeth Conference:

Here's the official Lambeth Conference website.

The reports from the excellent site Thinking Anglicans is here.

Integrity's blog at Lambeth is here.

Many of the blogs listed in All Sorts and Conditions are blogging live from Lambeth or about Lambeth. You can check them out at the sidebar. I personally think that as long as the Archbishop does not allow his agenda to get hijacked by the reasserter bishops, then we'll have nonews or pronouncements from Lambeth, and that will be fine. In 1998 the Conference was much different - it was more of a legispaltive body that passed resolutions about various items of interest to the WorldWide Anglican Communion. (The Lambeth Conferecen site has links to the past resolutions.) The most famous of the 1998 resolutions - Resolution 1.10 - was one that was rammed through with the support of the then Archbishop of Canterbury which said many things, some of which are quite good:

Lambeth Conference 1998: Resolution 1.10 Human Sexuality

This Conference:

1. commends to the Church the subsection report on human sexuality;

2. in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage;

3. recognises that there are among us persons who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation. Many of these are members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God's transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of relationships. We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ;

4. while rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture, calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals, violence within marriage and any trivialisation and commercialisation of sex;

5. cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions;

6. requests the Primates and the ACC to establish a means of monitoring the work done on the subject of human sexuality in the Communion and to share statements and resources among us;

7. notes the significance of the Kuala Lumpur Statement on Human Sexuality and the concerns expressed in resolutions IV.26, V.1, V.10, V.23 and V.35 on the authority of Scripture in matters of marriage and sexuality and asks the Primates and the ACC to include them in their monitoring process.

The reasserters have crowed about the first part of Item 4 for ten years now, while reappraisers have wondered where the listening process of Item 3 and the declaration that all people are beloved by God in Item 3 went.

Of course, the Lambeth Conference was never meant to be legislative, but only consultative. In other words, each Province in the Communion has its own polity and governance. The Lambeth Conference is not a synod which can legislate for the whole communion, and so it sresolutions are only advisory at best. Only the General Convention of The Episocopal Church can legislate for Episcopalians in the US; whatever is said or done at Lambeth is worth noting and repsecting, but is not binding. Many of us continually forget that.

This Lambeth, if all goes as planned, there won't be any new resolutions. And that will be fine.

However, what is very significant and very worthwhile is the Lambeth Bible Study. the Bishops are doing a three-week study of the Gospel of John, and the Conference Planning Group has published a 7-part Bible Study that groups or individuals can use on their own to be in solidarity with the Lambeth attendees. Signs on the Way - A Bible Study Series (scroll down a bit to see it), is available on the Resources page here of the Conference website. I lvoe the Gospel of John - it's my favorite, and so I'm going to be using it next week for my private study while at Crossroads as Visiting Chaplain. I encourage you to take a look at it as well. I may blog my reflections as I go, but as internet acceess is limited at camp, I may not get much opportunity, in which case I'll post them, when I return.



Doorman-Priest said...

I think it is an irony that + Gene was not invited as a sop to the conservatives who have then stayed away in droves.

It is a lose/lose situation, although it seems his unofficial presence is gaining a lot of good coverage.

RFSJ said...

Indeed - the sermon on Sunday was a powerful reminder of how Spirit-filled +Gene is. I think it's ironic, too, given the write-up Ruth Gledhill gives in her article today about the paper that chastcies bishops for not being in koinonia, when it is only +Gene who was forced to stay away.