Friday, 25 July 2008

Heroes, Heroines, and Remarkable Encounters

One of the things I most enjoy when attending Diocesan Synod, or General Synod, is the opportunity simply to meet people. This Lambeth Conference is no different, except that the encounters can be even more extraordinary.

I had the opportunity to have long chats with many people today, both supporters and non-supporters -- Archbishop Terry Buckle of the Yukon, Percy Coffin from Western Newfoundland, John Chane of the Diocese of Washington DC, Deva Devamina from the Province of South India, and GodfreyMdimiMhogola of Central Tanganyika in Tanzania.

Three encounters I would like to write about this evening.

Following this morning's Bible study, I attended the Fringe event hosted by the International Anglican Women's Network, focussing on theological education. Frankly, I was only trying to fill in some time. But there I was introduced to Jenny Te Paa of New Zealand. I was stammering for words, for she is one of my heroes. She spoke passionately not only about the need for more spaces in our seminaries for women seeking ordination, but about the importance of theological training for the laity, for women, for aboriginal peoples, for gays and lesbians, for all of us who find ourselves on the margins of the Church, so that we might "speak truth to power". I wanted to stand and cheer (but being a good and proper Anglican, of course I did not)!

At the same time as this was happening, a group called "Sibyls" was meeting in another venue. This was the witness of five trangendered Anglicans. This can be a difficult issue, even in civil society, but the event was reportedly well attended. The participants were a bit disappointed that only five bishops were in the assembly; but apparently, in a moment of grace appreciated by all, at the close of the session Bishop Tom Shaw of Massachusetts offered a blessing for all the panelists.

Most of my encounters with bishops occurred, of course, during my shift at the Integrity booth. I was pleased to meet and to chat with my former bishop, Peter Coffin (now Bishop Ordinary to the Canadian Armed Forces). He mentioned that he had read that a Ugandan bishop was among our delegation. "Yes," I replied, "would you like to meet him?"

Retired bishop Christopher Senyonjo of West Buganda, Uganda, was excommunicated by his archbishop after establishing a ministry for gay and lesbian believers in his country. Peter Coffin knew the story. Peter also explained that he had travelled to Uganda in April, and had dined with Archbishop Orombi. They had a most interesting conversation. I took no notes.

No comments: