Monday, July 4, 2022

Heading to Lambeth 2022 - God's church for God's world

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?


Father Ron said...

Dear Bishop Peter, moving on from Lambeth 1:10 (which I hope Lambeth 2022 will bew doing), here is encouragement from Pope Francis, for us to reconise Christ in everyone, saint and sinner alike. It would be good if our faithful bishops at this Lambeth could do the same:

"MONDAY, JULY 4, 2022

“Every man and every woman are like tesserae in an immense mosaic; they are already beautiful in their own right, but only together with other tesserae do they compose an image, in the conviviality of differences. Being convivial with someone also means imagining and building a happy future with the other. Indeed, conviviality echoes the desire for communion that resides in the heart of every human being, thanks to which all people can speak to each other, exchange projects and outline a future together. Conviviality unites socially, but without colonizing the other and preserving his or her identity… Let us remember that the Lord Jesus fraternized with all; he associated with people considered to be sinners and impure, and shared without prejudice the table of the publicans. And it was again during a convivial meal that he showed himself to be a faithful servant and friend to the end, and then as the Risen One, the Living one who gives us the grace of universal conviviality. This is the word I would like to leave with you: conviviality.”
Pope Francis

(P.S. It's good to know we shall have 2 ex-ACANZP women bishops at the Conference - +Helen-Ann Hartley; and +Eleanor from Wellington! - Helen-Ann already there and Eleanor ready to battle for the underpriveleged and outcast from her experience here in Wellington!) I just hope you all have a bit of fun together, cause that's part of what God wants for us all!

Anonymous said...

In 2032, the usual funding for Lambeth Conferences will fail. But the Patriarch of Constantinople will offer the hospitality of a beautiful, inaccessible island in the Aegean.

So the Anglican Communion will sip ouzo, nibble squid, dance in taverns, pray on beaches, discuss scripture in the twilight, meet at night in an ancient amphitheater, and sleep in an abandoned monastery of the C13.

Somebody will try to organise all of this, but the bishops will keep forgetting the schedule. A final communique will be prepared, but no press will hazard the journey to hear it.


Peter Carrell said...

Was kind of hoping this - sip ouzo, nibble squid, dance in taverns, pray on beaches, discuss scripture in the twilight, meet at night in an ancient amphitheater, and sleep in an abandoned monastery of the C13 - would be happening in 2022 at the University of Kent!

I mean, what is the point of university life if it is not the above????

Father Ron said...

One more comment from me on this thread: (Journey's mercies for you and Theresa, Bishop)

I well remember spending time on the lovely campus of the University of Kent, Canterbury, in 1988 (10 years prior to the fateful 1998 Lambeth conference!). I was with a party of charismatically-inclined Auckland Anglicans who were participants in the Charismatic Conference held there in Canterbury, and at which Graham Kenrick and his band led us in lovely chorues - one of which was "Shine, Jesus, Shine".

As we were there immediately before the 1988 Lambeth Conference, to take place in the same venue, there were one or two bishops in attendance, who were interested in the emerging Renewal Movement in their respective dioceses. Not at our conference, but someone who was in New Zealand beforehand, was Bishop George Carey; who was interested in the forthcoming trip of our Auckland group to the Canterbury venue. As he was, at that time, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, he invited us to act as 'missioners' to various parishes in his diocese after our conference - an experience I very much enjoyed!(+ George, only a short time later, was to become the ABC!)

There were several deeply moving spiritual experience at our conference (I can't speak for the Lambeth Conference to be held in the same place afterwards) - including a small hiatus during a power failure at night, when one of my parishioners was still able to film the conference proceedings (shades of Malcolm Muggeridge and his team in Calcutta with Mother Teresa) The single down point for me - and, I suspect, for others at the conference - was a talk given by a bishop (English) from Pakistan, who denounced all Muslims as agents of the Devil. I and several others walked out, feeling that this was antithetical to the theme of our Conference, and a direct denial of the Love of God for ALL people.

I pray that the Bishops assembled in 2022 will be thoroughly filled with the Spirit of God, emerging in a new and faithful understanding of 'The Great Love of God revealed in The Son!

(Say a prayer for me at the Shrine of St.Thomas a'Beckett in the Cathedral crypt!)

Mark Murphy said...

Thanks for hosting some lively debate and sharing of info here, Peter.

Good luck for Lambeth.

'Could the conference spur some new Anglican imagination?'

The Franciscan one emerged as a sort of treasure within when the cardinals took the risk of appointing a non-European. Now we're busy trying to work out what an 'Aparecida approach' to synodality might mean. Great!

How might Anglicans allow a similar imagination "from the ends of the earth" to not just emerge, but reinterpret or even reorganize the centre? Where is the Spirit blowing - or from what, or toward what continent - in Kent?

Peter Carrell said...

Thank you Ron and Mark and Bowman
I will pray for you but you will understand that I have no faith in shrines, or the saints they are dedicated to, only in God!

Anonymous said...

"What is the point of university life?"

There are three answers.

It entices the young to be productive.

It contributes to the magnificence of libraries.

It's a village where wizards argue, collaborate and advise.

The last is the most irreplaceable.

And it is closest to what Lambeth Conferences do well.

Have fun with it!


Mark Murphy said...

Everyone is looking for the corpse of John Henry Newman (now Saint). Mysteriously, it wasn't found when they dug up his gravesite for relics after the recent canonization went through.

This would be an attractive drawcard for our new cathedral.

Peter Carrell said...

There would be some irony in doing that, Mark.

For those not aware, in our city of Christchurch (from a European/British perspective, an Anglican settlement in 1850), the Roman Catholics have adroitly named some of their key institutions after English saints: so premier boys secondary schools are St Bede's and St Thomas of Canterbury; and when I was at University here, the Catholic campus group was called NewSoc (Newman Society) [am not sure if that is still the case]. And the Catholic hall of residence at the Uni is Rochestor Hall (i.e. from St John Fisher, Bishop of Rochestor).

Mark Murphy said...

Catholics could have him for weekday masses.

My rich English uncle lives in an old country house that used to be connected to the local Catholic chapel by an underground, post-reformation tunnel. A similar structure could be built between the two new cathedrals?

Father Ron said...

Dear Mark. Yes, It must have been a wee bit embarrassing for the Catholic hierarchy in the U.K. when John Henry didn't seem to be found where his official gravesite was. Is that because he preferred to be buried with his dearest friend, Fr. Ambrose? God rest their souls in peace!

Dear Bishop Peter. Thanks for the offer of your prayers at Canterbury. My own belief is that we are 'one with the Saints' - both here below and those already in God's nearer presence. Mind you, that's only my personal theological position. (May not be too long before I'll be able to check out for myself). Bon Voyage to you both!

Mark Murphy said...

Hi Ron

Yes John Henry Newman asked to be buried in the same plot as Amrose St John, his life companion, and according to official records he was - quite touching. But after he was canonized under Benedict, and they dug up his grave for relics (weirdly, that still happens), they found only shreds of a wooden cross.

One explanation is that Newman thought something like this might happen, and gave instructions to be buried with special dirt that assists rapid decomposition. Maybe he was a bit Anglican about relics.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Mark, if the relics of John Henry Newman were found in Christchurch that certainly would be an attractive drawcard.

(A century ago, visitors to Williamsburg, Virginia thanked the sexton of Bruton Parish Church for a tour of the churchyard by paying him a small gratuity. The sexton discovered that they paid him more when his tour included the tomb of William Shakespeare.)

If in the course of construction, the Blessed Virgin Mary should lead the builders to Newman's lost remains, what else can this sign mean but that heaven has exalted the See of Christchurch to a superior dignity in the Southern Hemisphere?

Not that there is anything wrong with knowing a gently progressive place of worship as the Cathedral Church of the Holy Transition. But why not call it St Peter's?


Mark Murphy said...

I like the Cathedral of the Holy Transition!

Anonymous said...

More about "a gently progressive place of worship" and a bit about "the stars" in September on my website.

Thanks to + Peter and all here for the stimulating months just past.


Peter Carrell said...

You're always welcome!