1) Firstly another “Tasmania at Lambeth” moment. John Harrower is quoted by the Diocese of Lichfield news site:
The Bishop of Tasmania, the Rt Revd John Harrower, said the MDGs gave a measure against which a government’s actions could be measured. He described the Australian government’s recent decision to increase its aid and development budget by 3.8 billion dollars as a generous gesture; but said the MDGs provided an framework of accountability. He said: ‘we’re not just being generous and who knows what might happen to it; we’re saying that we’re being generous and we want to see these things happen. That accountability is an important part of generosity.’
2) An excellent summary of Lambeth “so far” has been provided by George Conger on his blog.
Some broad comments on Anglicanism by Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti of Recife, Brazil have been made available on the Anglican Mainstream site.
3) The scandal of the moment is the uncovering of a document issued to all TEC bishops supposedly to make sure that they are all on message and have a common strategy to advance their agenda and achieve their desired outcomes at Lambeth. The Guardian reports:
A US bishop yesterday accused his own church of manipulating the Lambeth summit by providing its 125 representatives with briefing notes explaining how to promote liberal attitudes towards gay clergy…
The document handed out to the Episcopal church’s Lambeth contingent encourages bishops to promote the idea of diversity by using examples from the Bible and scripture…
“God made a diverse creation who reveals many gifts but the same spirit. Jesus calls a diverse witness into being and sends them into witness. St Paul called a diverse church to unity in Christ.”
[Crf. my blog entry touching on the (mis)use of diversity language]
The document, entitled Lambeth Talking Points, also provides advice for bishops when dealing with journalists: “A good message will reach the audience without giving the media more than they need or can use.”
One US bishop, Keith Ackerman from the diocese of Quincy, said the document was “embarrassing”.
“We should come to Lambeth spiritually prepared, not tactically prepared. It is a clear attempt to dominate the debates we are having and push them in a certain direction.
“The Episcopal church is attempting to manipulate this conference. It was hoping to convince the rest of the Anglican Communion that its innovations should be incorporated and respected.”
News of the document has spread throughout the Kent campus and, late on Wednesday night, conservatives launched their own strategy to counter the prevailing liberal tone of Lambeth.
At a meeting attended by diocesan bishops from around the world, one conservative evangelical recommended: “In group after group, find out how many people support resolution 1.10 [the one from Lambeth 1998 enforcing a traditional stance on gay sex].
Cherie Wetzel talks about how this document is being used, in a press interview with bishops granted by the organizers on condition of anonymity it was asked:
How is your indaba group? “Well, the funny thing is,” began one bishop, “The Americans here have this cheat sheet that they use in our group. It has statements on it that justify their decisions in the last two conventions that led to the consecration of Gene Robinson and same-sex marriage. It is a prioritized list of talking points and the one in our group reads off this thing every day.”
As Ruth Gledhill reports, The Rev’d Dr Philip Turner of the Anglican Communion Institute has released an analysis of the TEC document in which he states:
…The controlling idea of the memo is that the American bishops ought to arrive at Lambeth with a single “core message” that does not in fact reflect on their own part the diversity they call for in others… It is a message intended to establish the right of TEC to go its own way in defiance of the requests of all the Communion’s Instruments of Communion.
Those of us who look to our bishops to speak truthfully about our real circumstances can only hope and pray that the incoherence of what TEC is proposing will be pointed out in no uncertain terms. If not, a “core message” that is patently false and rigidly held will take center stage, and the disproportionate number of TEC bishops will allow them to remain there. It will render the conference impotent. It will effectively derail the practice of mutual subjection upon which the future of our Communion depends.
Ruth Gledhill highlights a key point:
According to Dr Turner, the TEC memo is ‘manifestly also a method designed to keep a large group of people “on message” so that TEC’s bishops will remain on the same page. It is manifest also that the memo signals a hardened position on the part of TEC’s Episcopal leadership that runs counter to the spirit the Archbishop of Canterbury has asked to guide the bishops in their deliberations—a spirit of mutual subjection in Christ that is open to correction.’
4) GAFCON continues to evolve with reports that the “Common Cause Partnership” – the closest thing to an embodiment of the total conservative movement within North America is seeking to be recognised by the GAFCON primates as a province in its own right. As Christianity Today says “…this was a widely anticipated move… but this effort puts the fat in the fire.” Ruth Gledhill from The Times reports:
The Common Cause province initiative has been explained to me thus: ‘What Common Cause is doing is asking the GAFCON primates council to recognize us as having similar status to the other provinces (Uganda, Nigeria, etc) that participate within the movement. This is clearly very meaningful as we re
late to that portion of the Anglican Communion that is part of GAFCON. We recognize, however, that it does not necessarily change our relationships with that part of the Communion that is not part of the GAFCON movement.’
We, as the Bishops and elected leaders of the Common Cause Partnership are deeply grateful for the Jerusalem Declaration. It describes a hopeful, global Anglican future, rooted in scripture and the authentic Anglican way of faith and practice. We joyfully welcome the words of the GAFCON statement that it is now time ‘for the federation currently known as the Common Cause Partnership to be recognized by the Primates Council.’
“The intention of the Executive Committee is to petition the Primate Council for recognition as the North American Province of GAFCON on the basis of the Common Cause Partnership Articles, Theological Statement, and Covenant Declaration, and to ask that their Moderator be seated in the Primate’s Council.“
The Common Cause Partnership links together nine Anglican jurisdictions and organizations in North America. Together, the American Anglican Council, the Anglican Coalition in Canada, the Anglican Communion Network, the Anglican Mission in the Americas, the Anglican Network in Canada, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, the Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas, Forward in Faith North America and the Reformed Episcopal Church represent more the 1,300 Anglican parishes in the United States and Canada.
The moderator of CCP moderator is Bp. Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh. Episcopal Cafe notes some irony:
The Right Rev. George Bruce (Ontario) reports in his blog that his Bible study group at Lambeth “will be losing bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh who will be returning to the US on Friday.” The title of Bruce’s post? “Bishops begin to address the issues that divide us.”