This may (or may not) be my last post for a while. Later this week we hop on a plane to the northern hemisphere for a mix of some holiday prior to and post the much anticipated - "14 years since 2008" - Lambeth Conference 2022, running 26 July to 8 August. As appropriate I will post from within the conference and there may be a thought or two in the run up to it, but holidays are holidays!
Lots of friends and acquaintances are asking whether I am excited about the Conference and I confess to some rising excitement (next paragraph) and some moderation of the rise (because it appears to be a highly scripted conference - will it be lovely but not era-defining?).
My rising excitement is about being there (should be fun), meeting people (the few I know personally, the few I have "met" online, the many I have heard of but never met and the bishops and spouses I've never heard of but will be exciting to meet and get to know), conference input (Bible studies, speakers) and conference worship.
The Conference seems pretty scripted to not make "line in the sand" resolutions (the shadow of 1998 looms large), preferring that we develop "calls" (which I understand to be motivating challenges/encouragements to be (as the Conference theme says) God's church for God's world. I saw a post the other day which implied that Global South bishops might seek to get the Conference making a resolution or two. Speculation? We'll find out soon enough!
I like the theme: God's church for God's world. It emphasises the servant character of the church - serving God, serving God's world. It conveys the importance of evangelism: the church has no good news for the world if that news is not that God is for rather than against the world; and the church is God's church when it is itself the message that God is for the world.
I also think the theme sheds light on that 1998 shadow I mentioned above. After 24 years, the story of the post 1998 Anglican Communion is convoluted (remember the Windsor Report, the attempt to secure agreement on the Covenant, etc?) and complex (see Venn diagram re Anglican Communion, GAFCON, Global South) but (as a then supporter of 1998 1.10, the thrust of the Windsor Report, and the Covenant), my present concern is whether we become a Communion defined by one issue and that issue is not the doctrine of God or the church.
To the extent that I see some talk on the interweb about either how terrible the Communion is for failing to follow through on 1998 1.10 or how good it would be if the majority had their way via a "resolution" Conference and re-affirmed 1998 1.10, I am happy that we are not focused on one issue (unless that issue is the doctrine of God or the doctrine of the church).
In particular, in "God's world", in which (as seen in the last few days, as post Covid freedoms are enjoyed) Pride marches take place, and many new, famous, popular people are "coming out," is "God's church for God's world" best served, most enhanced by either a great regret that 1998 1.10 has not had the force many Anglicans wish it had had, or by a re-affirmation of it in 2022?
This post - should you be tempted to comment - is not yet another re-run of how the Anglican church should believe or behave in relation to homosexuality. It is simply asking the question whether, from the lens of "God's church for God's world", we should be revivifying 1998 1.10. Is there another way for God's church to approach this aspect of God's world?
There is an alternative! For some years now the Roman Catholic Church, which has not changed one iota of its official, catechetical teaching on homosexuality, has enjoyed a "Franciscan imagination" in what it has messaged about the reality of homosexuality - an imagination which I personally find hard to find in talk of 1998 1.10.
Might the Conference spur some new Anglican imagination, some new light so the shadow of Lambeth 1998 is diminished?