Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Seventy-two hours with Bishop Chilton

Sunday I was "fetched" early and driven from Canterbury to Guildford (about 20 miles south of London) to preach at the Cathedral there. What a hospitable welcome they extended! One of the gifts presented was (unbeknownst to them) a book I have long wanted to own: LOVE'S REDEEMING WORK: THE ANGLICAN QUEST FOR HOLINESS (Oxford, 2003). It's a thick collection of writings of Anglican mystics and theologians from the late 15th century onwards to the present. It's on my "retirement reading" pile!

After returning from Guildford in the afternoon, the rest of Sunday was quiet: doing the laundry, reading/preparation for the upcoming week, answering some email. The pace of this Lambeth Conference is grueling and the quieter time was a blessing.

Monday, a typical Lambeth day: Out of bed 6:00 AM, showering in the "pocket" shower attached to my room (I'm fortunate: some of my colleagues share one shower with 10 other people!). Walk to the worship center (20 minute walk from our housing) for Eucharist, celebrated by bishops of the Province of the Indian Ocean. Then breakfast followed by 90 minute Bible Study (many of you are following along with our study -- so you know it was John 10: 1- 10 today).

My Bible Study group includes two bishops from the Sudan, one bishop fromTanzania, one bishop from Japan, two bishops from Jamaica/the Caymans, one bishop from Scotland and two of us from the Episcopal Church. The trust and depth of sharing in our group continues to deepen. After Bible Study was our Indaba group (a larger group of approx 40), which it's my job to facilitate. We work very hard discussing the topic of interfaith relations. Many stories about the tensions between Christians and Muslims, especially from the Sudan. I felt humble as I heard the stories of persecution and martyrdom. Monday afternoon we reviewed the latest report from the Windsor Continuation Group, and offered our feedback (from a rich variety of perspectives). Monday evening, a lovely dinner for all woman bishops in the precincts of Canterbury Cathedral with leaders of WATCH (Women and the Church), a British group advocating for the ministries of all women, lay and ordained.

Tuesday brought a different morning format with a lengthy plenary, as bishops and spouses met together to talk about Power and the Abuse of Power. It was well-done, with a combination of drama, group discussions and Bible Study. Following the afternoon meeting of our own Episcopal Church bishops, Evening Prayer was offered by the Church of Myanmar. They showed videos of the relief work Myanmar Anglicans have been doing following the cyclone. Let us hold them all in special prayer. We in Maine are blessed that one of Maine's own, The Rev. Kitty Babson, is an appointed missionary to Myanmar (she would love to come to your church and offer a program).

After dinner in Canterbury at a middle-eastern restaurant with my "class" of 1998, I am at my desk, sending you love and prayers. Keep your prayers flowing: the next few days may bring some particularly difficult discussions forward. I can't tell you how important it is to know of your prayers and support. Bless you all.

Sending love in Christ,

1 comment:

margaret reimer said...

Dear Bishop Chilton,
I can't tell you how much your and Steve's blogs have meant to me--it isn't quite like attending Lambeth but your thoughtful commentary on the process helps me to keep the two of you (and our Communion) high in my prayers. Blessings on you both
Margaret Reimer