Sunday, 3 August 2008

Inclusive Communion

Activity at Lambeth is all very well, but where do we go from here? Well, the groups represented in the Inclusive Church group put our heads together towards the end of our time in Canterbury, and realised that we needed to keep moving, building on the work done here. We came up with this:

Press Release
2 August 2008


CANTERBURY, UK — Leaders of seven lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Anglican organizations met yesterday as the Lambeth Conference drew to a close.

We recommitted ourselves to the full inclusion of LGBT people in the life and ministry of the churches of the Anglican Communion.

We promised to redouble our efforts to work for the human rights of LGBT people around the world that they might live free of violence and discrimination due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

We resolved to develop and distribute additional educational resources for church leaders and civil authorities related to theology and sexuality issues.

We pledged to continue promoting and supporting the Anglican Communion Listening Process.

We recommitted ourselves to supporting each other's intra-provincial work and to helping our LGBT Anglican sisters and brothers around the world develop ministries of support and witness.

We agreed to form an umbrella organization named "Inclusive Communion" to facilitate our cooperative efforts.

We planned to convene a worldwide summit of LGBT Anglicans in the near future to build on the cooperative ministry and witness begun during this Lambeth Conference.

We invite other LGBT Anglican organizations to join us in this mission and to affiliate with Inclusive Communion by sending an email message to

Changing Attitude Nigeria: Davis Mac-Iyalla
Changing Attitude: Colin Coward & Max Manin
Claiming the Blessing: Cynthia Black
Integrity Canada: Steve Schuh & Chris Ambidge
Integrity Uganda: Christopher Senyonjo
IntegrityUSA: Caro Hall & John Clinton Bradley
Other Sheep East Africa: Michael Kimindu

posted by Chris

Pictures of Us

Class Picture of [most of] the Inclusive Church folks at Lambeth

With the Canadians identified: back row - Chris, Neil and Steve; next row - Ron; front row - Bob.
Photo credit: Cynthia Black (front row, right hand end - blue lanyard, she's Press)

The 5 Integrity Canada people, at our last meeting Friday night
before: Bob, Neil, Ron, Steve; behind: Chris

Home again, home again, jiggety-jig (well, maybe not that fast, 10am UK time to 11pm Toronto time), and I've now got some photos of us ready to post, to put faces to the writing.

Steve mentioned the Friday evening party at St Stephen's parish hall, for those of us who were supporting/staffing the Inclusive Church initiative, and most of us were able to be there. While there, a "class photo" was taken, and that's above (with a key to help you find the Canajuns).

After that party, the five of us adjourned to the Beverlie (the pub 100 metres away) to do some initial reflection amongst ourselves on our presence, as Canadians, at the 2008 Lambeth Conference. We also began thinking of the next steps once we get back to the Great White North. I'm spozed to write up some of the notes, and we'll do some conference call consulting, and get back to you all.

As I key this in, the final service is underway in Canterbury Cathedral. I'm not sure what the bishops did on the last couple of days. A few further reactions and reporting will appear soon - even though we've dispersed from Canterbury physically, the conference isn't quite finished.


Saturday, 2 August 2008

Wrapping up

On Friday evening many of those gathered in Canterbury as part of the LGBT Anglican witness gathered for a "drinks party" and BBQ before many of our number had to leave for home. It's been a very full two weeks, and we had much to celebrate, not the least being many new friendships and a developing network of LGBT Anglicans around the world.

The bishops are continuing to meet through Sunday in bible study, indaba, and hearing sessions as they finalize the reflections document that is intended to be (so we hear) the primary product for their conference. There are also several more press briefings, so anything could still happen. The general feeling, however, is that it's too late for any significant effort to derail or abort the process.

Since our accommodation was only booked through today, most of the Canadian team is heading to the train station in the next few hours. We'll be breaking-down the Marketplace stall this evening, and I'll stick around through Monday to report any late-breaking developments. The prayers and well-wishes of Integrity friends at home are still most welcome ... we have sensed your support and encouragement from the start and are so thankful for them! Thank you!

Steve Schuh

Friday, 1 August 2008

Rivers of Bishops

The ubiquity and interchangeableness of the bishops swarming the fields of Kent University in their matching florid mauve shirts remind me for all the world of the oompah-loompahs from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This reminiscence first came to mind as Steve Schuh, Bob Webster, and I waited to talk to Canadian bishops as they left their Thursday indaba groups. As we stood in the foyer of the Keynes Building, where the bishops were meeting, all of a sudden they started flooding from their rooms - ripples of purple streaming through the hallways like salmon on their way to their spawning grounds.

All joking aside, the three of us had excellent conversations with a dozen of our bishops, as well as a couple of Americans. Obviously, I won't repeat the discussions here or they'll never talk to me (frankly) again; but I think it is fair to characterise their dispositions as positive. The bishops genuinely seem to be making an effort, by and large, to listen to one another - to be patient, tolerant, and forebearing. The feedback I have heard from my American and British colleagues has confirmed the impression left by our own bishops. This Lambeth Conference may be one of those rarest of international Anglican gatherings - one in which everyone leaves feeling warm and fuzzy.

Thursday evening, I went to a talk given by Dr. Richard Burridge, Dean of King's College, London. He gave an excellent presentation comparing and contrasting the debates over slavery, apartheid, and sexuality in the Christian community. His argument was not that these debates were interchangeable, but rather that the same strategies and claims with respect to biblical authority by both sides have been used in all three instances. Specifically, those who argued in defence of slavery and apartheid relied on clear biblical texts and solid exegesis in defence of their positions, and accused their opponents of undermining the authority of the bible through adopting secular innovations.

The discussion following the presentation was equally illuminating. The first audience member to speak, a bishop from India, pointed out that even discussing sexuality in his culture was taboo. Given this, he asked what "the west" was "prepared to sacrifice" in order to respond to realities such as this. The most cogent and moving responses actually came from another audience member, likewise an Indian bishop, who said that perhaps the real problem was the taboo in discussing sexuality, especially given the largely undiscussed problem of the abuse and exploitation of girls and women in that country. He challenged his colleagues to take the lead in breaking the taboo. Another audience member, a priest from Uganda, talked of his courageous ministry to gays and lesbians in Kampala; for which he was removed from his parish post. He identified the problem as one of theological education in Africa, and challenged North Americans and Europeans to offer themselves as educators of those seeking a deeper understanding of the scriptures in the poorer nations of the world.

As I prepare to pack my bags and leave Canterbury, I am grateful to Integrity Canada for the unparalleled opportunity to be at an important international Anglican gathering at this vital time in our Communion (come to think of it, it always seems to be a vital time for important meetings in our Communion!). I take back with me a renewed energy and focus for full inclusion, in the context of a truly comprehensive Anglican Church.

Neil Fernyhough

Sex Day At Lambeth

Yesterday, 31 July, was "sex day" at Lambeth: the bishops finally got to talk about the sexuality issues. The question for discussion in the Indaba groups was phrased carefully (here I'm paraphrasing) "how have the current questions about human sexuality affected your ministry as a bishop" -- not leading directly to the duelling biblical quotes, but rather asking for reflections on their ministry as Bishops.

Integrity people have spoken to many bishops since the Indaba discussions, and the consensus is positive. The discussions were difficult, but respectful; and opposing points-of-view were heard. And by "heard", I mean really listened to, not "spoken into the room, not necessarily picked up by others".

There are still differences of opinion and perspective, of course; but I think, among the bishops participating, there is greater understanding of their own "side", and greater appreciation of other "sides".

One bishop from Canada described to me his own group discussion: they were going around the circle, either speaking or pass-ing; and then one bishop from India somewhere, sitting next to my friend, spoke (without the "turn" coming around the circle to him), very strongly and very conservatively, how he could not accept ordination of women, and and and; quoting scripture at length (in case the other bishops hadn't heard those verses). The around-the-circle contributions continued, and then it came to my Canadian friend's turn. He spoke his bit, from the inclusive angle that Integrity would appreciate, and then his (USA) neighbour (and person next to the Indian bishop) spoke, building on the statement of my friend. After the end of the Indaba discussion, this same Indian bishop came to the two North Americans "thank you, I have heard what you have been saying". He may have said "agree", I can't remember. Either way, it's evidence that the bishops are listening to each other, and that was the whole point.

There will be no motions and resolutions coming out of this Lambeth. So, 1998 resolution I.10 won't be slammed at us again (at least, not with the force of a resolution). And that can only be good.

Today's issue is going to be the Windsor Continuation Group (ie pushing of the Covenant) in the Indaba groups, and that might not be good. But yesterday's sex discussions seems to have gone well, I think.


Lambeth Drama - part 2

Bob reported that, at the first performance of Seven Passages, a number of people got up and walked out mid-performance.

Well, there is a happy follow-up. Last night, at the second performance, three of those people came back and sat through the whole performance.

The Spirit moves in a mysterious way, her wonders to perform.

Chris, who just got this information from Cynthia, who was at both performances

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Lambeth Drama

Last night one of the Drama events presented was called 'Seven Passages' based on the clobber verses in the bible and the words of over 100 people who were interviewed about their 'passages' in coming to terms with their sexuality as Gay or Lesbian Christians. 7 young actors did a wonderful job of portraying the struggles, joys and sorrows of these issues. Both the writing and the acting were spot on and identified every stage of my, and I'm sure most G/L Christians, journey toward wholeness in Christ.

Unfortunately, about half way through, 6 people who appeared to be from Africa walked out. I asked the actors and writer after the play how that affected them and they said of course it was hurtful but was also the first time it had ever happened in all the times they've produced it. Sad, but as it has been said here, if you're not prepared to listen you can't have a conversation.

Today is the sex talk day for the bishops so we will undoubtedly be hearing considerable comment about that. so far the little that has trickled out has been positive.

Thank you all for your prayers, and don't stop now!