Points By Drew Pritt

Lambeth Conference and What It Means To You….
July 31, 2008, 10:27 pm
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Every decade, since 1867, the Anglican Communion, which includes the Episcopal Church, has a gathering of all the ordained Bishops. As the Anglican Communion is an international association of national churches and not a governing body, Lambeth Conferences serve a collaborative and consultative function, expressing ‘the mind of the communion’ on issues of the day. Resolutions which a Lambeth Conference may pass are without legal effect, but they are none the less influential.

The Anglican Communion came from the Roman Catholic faith and from the Anglicans came forth the Methodists, the Presbyterians, and even the Baptist denominations. The Anglican Communion is more or less the forerunner faith community of the reformation movement. There is no single “Anglican Church” with universal juridical authority as each national or regional church has full autonomy. As the name suggests, the Anglican Communion is an association of these churches in full communion with the Church of England (which may be regarded as the “mother church” of the worldwide communion) and specifically with the first among equals of all the Bishops, the Archbishop of Canterbury. The status of full communion means that there is mutual agreement on essential doctrines. But this year, is a crossroads discussion in Christianity about what fully defines one as a Christian….especially those in the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender communities.

BBC has a wonderful report at this link.  Also there is this Google Video report.

Fundamentally, what is being debated is the role of inclusiveness for the GLBT Community. Some Bishops from Africa say its scripturally wrong. Isn’t it ironic, that a race of people who were enslaved and kept as slaves and that slavery was justified by scriptural interpretation now commit the same sort of enslavement on another group of people. But there are other traditionalists who demand, my way, or the highway. Very much like the hierarchy in the time of Jesus in the Temple.

The Archbishop of Canterbury played the political role too much and denied an invitation to the Right Reverend Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, because Bishop Robinson is openly gay. I like what the Right Reverend Dean Wolfe, Bishop of Kansas, had to say about Gene.

The people of New Hampshire had a man they loved, and not in any bright-light sort of way,” said Wolfe. “When it came time to call for a bishop, they believed they had called for the best person in the job….I tend to trust the people in our church. A large majority of them are moving in a way that twenty years ago we would not have imagined. These are exciting times, and I’m glad to be a part of it.”

The Right Reverend Duleep Kamil de Chickera, Bishop of Colombo in Sri Lanka, gave a stern rebuke to the “traditionalist” and everyone insisting that the Anglican tradition was to welcome everybody. It is, he said, “an inclusive communion, where there is space equally for everyone and anyone, regardless of color, gender, ability, sexual orientation. Unity in diversity is a cherished Anglican tradition.”

But even though some Bishops did not come, the Westminster Cathedral holds 2,400 and on Sunday morning it was full – even though more than 200 of the world-wide Anglican’s Communion’s 880 bishops, along with spouses and assorted aides, are boycotting the event.

Those who did come for the opening service of the conference listened to Bible readings in Korean and French, prayers in Swahili, and music and dance from Micronesia. Watching online, it was a shock afterwards to see the dancers, bare-breasted in the case of the men, in white shifts for the women, carrying their instruments, and dressed in their daywear as monks and nuns. The congregation also heard a sermon from Duleep De Chickera, the bishop of Colombo in Sri Lanka, a country as he said, of five great world religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and cricket.

These are the children of God.

Does all this matter to those outside the Anglican Communion? The Anglican Communion has 80 million members. It has one of the largest private financial holdings in the world. The Anglican Relief Fund is one of the first on the ground in natural disasters. Schools, meal programs, shelters all rely on this Communion. United, they are a powerful force for good in the world, fighting to end poverty or condemning oppressive regimes. If they split, that power is much reduced.

As The Right Reverend Rob O’Neill, the bishop of Colorado, put it: “We live in a broken and divided world. If we can’t bridge our own divisions, we have little to offer a suffering world.”

God does not make mistakes. He made The Right Reverend Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire, as well as he made The Right Reverend Keith Ackerman, Bishop of Quincy, Illinois or His Grace, Archbishop Greg Venables of the South American Cone. He was one of the 200 Anglican bishops and primates who met in Jerusalem a few weeks ago and founded what is, in effect, a breakaway organisation – the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans.

They choose to step away but are not forced away. They say they are not in communion but I forgive them. They face God as I and so many others will. May the grace extended to me be imparted to those who disagree with me.

In the end, all we, in the GLBT Community, seek is a relationship with God and not to be denied that relationship by prejudice, arrogance, or ignorance.

God loves us all. God is Lord of us all. God is Savior of us all.


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