Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I have two Bishops, but only one is at Lambeth. Here is an update from the Bishop of Spokane.

My writings over the last few days have indicated that I am active in campus ministry, sit on church committees, and attend Eucharists in New Hampshire, and am thus taking the forced exclusion of Bishop Robinson from Lambeth very personally. However, I am not actually canonically resident in the Diocese of New Hampshire. I love +Gene to death, but I maintain a fierce loyalty to the Bishop of Spokane, the Rt. Rev. Jim Waggoner, and so maintain my membership at St. Luke's Coeur d'Alene. In a way, I have two bishops, and two different perspectives on Lambeth. (For the record, +Jim did whole-heartedly vote to consecrate +Gene.)

When Bishop Waggoner left for Lambeth last week, he wrote to the diocese to share some background history about Lambeth and inform us that he would be leading a bishops’ Bible Study but will not become a blogging bishop. Here is his second e-mail, sent out last night. I look forward to meeting with +Jim in the fall so that I can hear much more about his Bible study and Lambeth conversations, as well as share with him my own quite different perspective on Episcopal blogging (heh heh) and my frustration over the treatment that my other bishop has received. If I know anything about Bishop Waggoner, it is that that frustration will be met with understanding and, more than likely, agreement.


As I wrote to the Diocese at the time Gloria and I departed for the Lambeth Conference, I have resisted becoming a regular blogger. Now, however, since the news accounts of Lambeth are beginning to increase and at times contain indisputably inaccurate information drawn from a seriously distorted perspective, I will be sending updates from my own participation, observation, and general perspective, which will be subject to their own degree of distortion as one person’s view.

Hospitality

To recap our early days in England, upon our arrival we immediately began the Pre-Lambeth Hospitality Initiative which included staying with a couple in the Diocese of Chichester and traversing the Uckfield Deanery (named for the river Uck) over the next four days. Our itinerary included a series of meetings throughout the Deanery, most of which were in people’s homes where we were in every place warmly received. The Diocese of Chichester is large, with nearly two million people and 21 deaneries. Two Suffragan Bishops serve with the Diocesan Bishop.

In many hours of conversation, only a small percentage was about the usual headline issues of sexuality and ordination of women as bishops; people were eager to hear about how TEC operates and voiced widespread misperceptions. It was enlightening to hear firsthand the impression that The Episcopal Church (hereafter TEC) was in turmoil and deeply divided throughout the country. The fact that most TEC eligible bishops were attending Lambeth seemed a surprise. This spoke to the influence of inaccurate reports about TEC in local papers.

At the various meeting venues, attendees posed straightforward and occasionally challenging questions which were more genuinely curious than contentious. A majority of the questions reflected a desire that the Anglican Communion not be divided. As Gloria and I listened and also spoke about our diocese and TEC, people responded quite positively.

Gratitude

They repeatedly expressed gratitude for the opportunity to talk face to face with someone from TEC. We learned a great deal from them about the richness of their history and the context in which the churches function, still influenced significantly by patronage, and eager, as are we, to get on with mission. Beginning July 15, training for those of us leading Bible study groups continued for an evening and a day. The outline of material is quite good and available in a slightly modified form on line at www.lambethconference.org/lc2008/resources/index.cfm. I hope you will take advantage of this offering and participate.

Preparation

Though last week the days were full, the work was primarily orientation and preparation for the official launch of the conference. In his Presidential Address, the Archbishop of Canterbury outlined his perspective and hopes for the conference. His remarks were focused clearly on a call to work on a form of Anglican Covenant.

For those of us attending and for the Communion, pray that we will be able to exercise spirit led discernment over special interest distortions. Keenly aware of and grateful for the privilege of representing you, Gloria and I send our best to all.

+Jim

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