UPDATE: The updated Calls have been published (here).
The key change to the Human Dignity document is captured by Tim Chesterton in a Tweet here.
ORIGINAL: It is Monday (UK time). Tomorrow we head to Canterbury, Kent to register. Wednesday is a welcome day (with various meetings of the kind that prepare people - e.g. me as a Bible study group convenor). Thursday and Friday are retreat days. The conference begins on Saturday, though the formal opening service is on Sunday. I think we can say we are on the cusp of the eve of the Conference!
And what a cusp it is, as something seems to have backfired big time for the Conference organisers.
Last week we learned (and by the end of the week the Anglican public learned) that the draft “Calls” were available, and among these draft Calls, the one on Human Dignity, was text concerning the Lambeth 1998 1.10 resolution on human sexuality, couched on the one hand in a context which acknowledged the differences across Anglican provinces, and, on the other hand, offering the possibility of re-affirmation of the resolution.
Cue a concert of concerns over the weekend on Twitter, blogs and statements of various house of bishops.
Cue within the last 24 hours learning that the 1998 material was not part of the drafting group’s process and was added late and without notice of it being circulated to the drafting group.
Cue within the last hour or so (as I write, late Monday afternoon UK time) this Tweet issued by the official LC Twitter account:
In full consideration of comments made about the #LambethCalls the Lambeth Calls Subgroup that coordinates the process will meet with the Archbishop of Canterbury (the President of the Lambeth Conference) today to discuss concerns raised. A further statement will be issued later.
As far as I can hypothesise (it is an hypothesis, as I have no inside knowledge), what has happened is this:
Initially there is a steering clear of the 1998 resolution.
Then Global South bishops make it clear that they intend a discussion of the resolution and even a vote to reaffirm.
Then someone added the resolution bit, which then offered the advantage to the Conference that the Global South desires were on the agenda before the Conference begins, rather than the Conference chugs along and then there is a hiatus while Global South tries to add to the agenda.
The furore thus created seems to have caused a massive rethink on the part of the Calls organising sub-group and we now await the outcome of their deliberations.
UPDATE: That outcome is here. The Human Dignity call will be amended and republished. There will be a third option for voting: in my words, Yes, More thought, No.
I am loathe to jump on a bandwagon of blame or accusations of “bait-and-switch” (as some of the Anglican punditocracy have done over the past few days).
The fact of the matter is, the Communion is not united on the matter of the role of 1998 Resolution 1.10 in the life of the Communion. We may or may not ever be united, but we do need to find a way to discuss this point of difference and to try to understand why there are differences among us.
Might 2022, despite this rocky cusp to the formal beginning of the Conference, bring some togetherness to our life together?
I have a few other thoughts!
1. Has the furore of the past few days been a talkfest of northern/western Anglican provinces focusing on “our” bit of Anglicanland to the exclusion of any real recognition that the majority of Anglicanland doesn’t think like we do? (In a “worst” case of one eyedness, in some expressions of intense concern it has seemed like some in the Church of England think the Lambeth Conference is another Church of England conference and how could ++Welby possibly … But, let’s get real: the Lambeth Conference is a gathering o bishops in which the majority of bishops are not bishops of northern/western Anglicanland!).
2. To the extent that the greatest intensity of concern comes from the liberal/progressive movement within global Anglicanism, just how is this movement doing “on the ground”? Numbers aren’t everything, but I was recently in a bastion of Anglican liberal lands and was shocked at the low numbers at worship. Then today, walking along a Cambridge, UK, street, I came across “Christ Church” church and paused to look at the noticeboard - a person came out of the church and we had a brief conversation. She told me that some 600-700 people worship there and it is a church plant of an inner city Cambridge CofE church. Do I need to tell you that this helpful woman also told me it is a certain kind of church? (Clue: not liberal/progressive).
3. That is, there are all sorts of issues at play here, including, most painfully, the anxiety and stress this late notice of the Human Dignity Call’s content is causing LGBTQI++ Anglicans. My interest going into the Conference is how we can find together a “both/and” outcome rather than an “either/or” one.