As the end of the Lambeth Conference approaches, anxieties are rising and there are more and more frequent expressions of concern that Lambeth isn't going to do anything. Many folks are saying that Lambeth needs to say something robust or definitive.
This morning there was a small explosion in my Indaba group. What exploded was widespread frustration that all the talk about our disagreements distracts from mission and undermines the Communion's credibility. The real issues, the real priorities of the Anglican Communion, need to be poverty, hunger, HIV/AIDS, the oppression of women and children, the oppression of the Dalits in India, war, refugees, care for creation, etc. (Indeed, if there is a consensus at this Lambeth it is that global warming is the most important matter facing humankind and that care for creation must be a first priority for the Church.) Most of the members of my group shared in some part of this frustration.
Like most explosions , however, this one was unfocused and it soon spread into chastising the Episcopal Church for creating all the disagreement in the Anglican Communion and keeping it going. The Episcopal Church was repeatedly charged with not responding to the Windsor process. The actions of our General Convention 2006 in responding to Windsor are not well known and are often received as new information.
The Episcopal bishops in my Indaba received this critique in respectful silence, without defensiveness, and responses actually came from other churches. The gist of the responses was that all of us are shaped in our ministries by the people and culture of our communities. Each of us is struggling to be faithful as God has given us the light. So there were voices of support, but it was a long session.
At hearings and other meetings today, there were calls to reaffirm Lambeth 1:10 or to state that the Windsor moratoria must continue. The Archbishop of Canterbury has said that there will be no voting or legislation. Rather the work of the Indaba groups will be drawn into a final statement that will be refined by an ongoing process of review in our groups and in hearings. Other processes, such as the Windsor Continuation process and the Anglican Covenant process will continue beyond this meeting. For me, the best part of this Lambeth has been the frank, respectful, and sometimes profound conversations of the Bible Study and Indaba groups. I hope we'll find ways to continue these conversations without forcing a decision now.
For all this, the work of building relationships continues. And daily worship refreshes and strengthens. Tonight the Church of Aoroatea, New Zealand and Polynesia led us in Night Prayer according to the New Zealand Prayerbook. The words and hymns fell like healing rain on a tired congregation of bishops and spouses.