Lambeth Conference 2008
University of Kent at Canterbury
Sunday July 21 and Monday July 22, 2008
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This epistle is being started Sunday evening, however, I will not send it out until tomorrow night in order to include information on our first actual day of Lambeth. Up until now there has not been a great deal to report, and this is evidenced by the comments from home that folks are not seeing much in the media about the Lambeth Conference.
My journey here was uneventful having left Alexandria at 12:25 p.m. Monday a week ago, and arriving at Gatwick Airport, London at 7:00 a.m. the next morning (there is a six hour time difference). At this juncture we were advised that we would sit on the runway for a bit as our assigned gate had another aircraft at it. For those who travel much, you know this can be rather normative. Well, after about an hour, the pilot advised us the aircraft at the gate had a fuel problem and would be there for some time, and rather than hold us longer we were going to be diverted. This diversion went on for some time as we taxied across the United Kingdom. It seemed as though we must have stopped somewhere between Ireland and Scotland, and then were bussed back into the terminal.
The journey from the airport to Kent University in Canterbury was fascinating as shuttle driver got lost numerable times, and those on board the shuttle thought the meeting would take place without us. More important was our prayer that we would be found and eventually end up back home. You can rest assured that our location is now known and God willing, there is a journey to Alexandria in the plans for me come August 4th.
After getting checked in and registered – we are staying in dorm rooms (one person per room and five people per restroom) – we had a brief introduction to the retreat that was going to be the beginning of Lambeth.
We spent the first three days “in retreat” with five talks being presented by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and with the theme focusing on “Bishops and Discipleship. I must state this was good and did provide a pause before the rush of things before us. Every day since our arrival, we have started with Eucharist and Bible study, and I am blessed with a great Bible study group. Not only an opportunity for some sound theological reflection on Scripture, but faithful prayer time. There are eight bishops in each Bible study group and most groups represent bishops from eight different countries.
Early yesterday morning we were loaded up and bussed to Canterbury Cathedral for a service of worship in this grand 1,700 year old historical space with some 650 bishops and primates, to say nothing of the various dignitaries. Elements of the service, with about 2,000 people present, were magnificent, and it was amazing how they got us all in and out so smoothly.
Following Sunday worship at Canterbury Cathedral, we returned to the university campus for lunch and then had our opening session for the introduction of that which is before us. I must state there have been a myriad of rumours as to whether we would be addressing the “creative tension” (and I am not making light of what we are in the midst of in the wider church, but rather, endeavouring to be polite). Based on what we heard in the reporting made to us, we will indeed be dealing with this. Needless to say, this came as encouraging news.
Today was spent with two major portions of the day engaged in our “Indaba” groups, which are each made up of five Bible study groups, thus approximately forty people per group. The design of an “Indaba” group is to provide the setting for a purposeful discussion, and it is in these sessions that we will begin to address the challenges that face our Communion. In between the two sessions today, each of the Provinces met by Province and spent time in a provincial meeting. I will state the meeting of The Episcopal Church consisted primarily of comments, questions, and expressed concerns on the part of some.
Needless to say, this is all very early in a gathering and process that will continue on for another thirteen days.
In keeping with the tenor of the meeting, it is good to report the Communion Partners plan (see last month’s ALIVE!) continues to unfold in a good way, and we are pleased with the development and support of this that is evident here on a number of fronts. As you may have seen, the public media over here is also talking about it. I will share more later on this.
Thus, this is where we are at the end of Day One.
What can you do in Western Louisiana? Please continue to keep me and those participating with me in your prayers. Know also that my day begins and ends each day with prayers for each of you, and thanksgiving for the ministry we share.
Blessings in abundance.
The Rt. Rev’d D. Bruce MacPherson
Bishop of Western Louisiana
and President of Province VII