Friday, 1 August 2008

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.


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