Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Little Respite

The pace of the last two days has been a bit more relaxed. Saturday, after Bible Study and Indaba groups, the Bishops had their Lambeth picture taken. It was quite an exercise on a hot, humid, but mercifully cloudy, day. It took about 45 minutes to get all 670 of us on very tall, narrow risers and another 15 minutes to take our pictures. Then we carefully exited the risers, one narrow section at a time. Thankfully, there were no accidents. (We have a little bit of video from the picture taking that will be posted soon.)

Following the picture taking, the Episcopal Church hosted a reception for bishops from the Church of the Sudan and the Congo. There was a good turnout and good conversation in many small groups. The Presiding Bishop, the Archbishop of Sudan and several other bishops briefly greeted the gathering.

Saturday afternoon the Episcopal Church led Evening Prayer. The bulletin was printed in three languages - English, Spanish and French - to indicate the three primary languages of the Episcopal Church. Donna Scaife signed the service in ASL. Bishop Gayle Harris presided. The Bishop and Spouses choir sang several pieces before and after the service to the great delight of the congregation. Gretchen and I and Mike Knudsen all sang in the choir and, despite only a very brief time for rehearsals, I think we did well. (We'll also post a little video of the service.)

The evening was given over to various "fringe" events. "Fringe" in an English context means associated, not "official," events. Gretchen and I went to Canterbury Cathedral for a candlelit tour and Compline.

Today, Sunday, was a complete Sabbath from the Conference. Many bishops preached around England. Bishop Chilton preached today in Guilford. The rest of us went to various services around Canterbury, especially at Canterbury Cathedral. And time was given over to sight seeing, walking, going to pubs and restaurants for meals, doing the laundry, etc., etc.

Tomorrow the schedule resumes in earnest with Indaba discussions about the proposed Anglican Covenant and an afternoon hearing on the Windsor Continuation process.

The highlight for me, of the last few days, has been the close attention paid to the role of the Church in relation to Climate Change. There was a major presentation on climate change Friday night and then discussion in the Indaba groups on Saturday. There are a number of self-select study sessions concerning aspects of climate change throughout the Conference. It's very clear that climate change is affecting everyone, everywhere. The impact is greatest in poor countries. The Church has a theology of the stewardship of creation that give us a platform from which to speak to the issue, and as churches in both rich and poor countries, we have important things to say both as contributors to the crisis and victims. Care for creation is one of the Millennium Development Goals. Expect the Anglican bishops to come home ready to speak "green."

Blessings on your sabbath...


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