Lambeth Conference 2008
University of Kent at Canterbury
Friday, July 25 and Saturday, July 26, 2008
St. James the Apostle and the Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Since writing last we have settled into the rhythm that is so much a part of our lives within the context of Lambeth Conference. In my first epistle you read about the encounters of getting here, getting settled, and were given a glimpse of what the beginning of our time together looked like. What I really hadn’t discovered at that time was the vast size of the campus at Kent University. It seems as though when we are not involved in something, we are walking to whatever we need to be involved in next. By the end of day most of us are more inclined to be seen “dragging” in place of “walking.”
Our routine has not varied much, we begin each day with early Eucharist, and this is presided over by the various Provinces. The music for each of the services will reflect the particular tradition, but most of the participants each day are members of the Chaplaincy team. All the participants at Lambeth Conference were given headsets upon arrival and this enables us the benefit of having the various services and other events translated.
Following worship we go to one of the two dining rooms where our meals are shared. As this is done cafeteria style, we get to stand in long, and I really mean long, lines. Depending upon the timing of your arrival at the dining room can make a difference of 30-45 minutes in line! One of the pleasant elements of our dining arrangement is that we most often end up sharing a meal with someone new each time, and this is one of the primary opportunities we have to get to visit with a variety of bishops from other jurisdictions.
Promptly following breakfast we head to our Bible study groups, and as I shared last, this time with seven other bishops is time well spent. I am blessed with an excellent group, and we meet with the same people every day.
We then head out directly to our Indaba group (see the last epistle for the description of this) where we spend two hours in discussion, reflection, and prayer on the given topic for the day. The Indaba groups are supposed to be central to what we do here, but I must confess, and I am not alone, that a great expanse exists for these gatherings to take hold. As I shared with the group this morning, we better posture ourselves for engagement in the issues before us soon, or we will be faced with no time. (Note: plans do call for us to become much more engaged in all of this next week, thus extra prayers please.)
Looking back at the past few days since I wrote, I note there have been several meetings with various Primates and Bishops to address the work that is before us as a Communion; attended a hearing of the Windsor Consultation Group where preliminary work was started in this first of five meetings; and attended another meeting with the Covenant Design Group. Additionally, we spend about 90 minutes each afternoon in a “self-select session,” and this being a discussion group or workshop.
On Thursday, July 24, we began the day with travelling by bus to Lambeth Palace in London where we shared in the gathering that followed the Millennium Development Goals Walk. (I did not walk as my knee has declared – enough is enough with the miles of walking on the campus every day.) The rally at Lambeth Palace included a rousing speech by the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. Before boarding the bus to Buckingham Palace, we shared lunch under a huge tent in the courtyard of Lambeth Palace and where I had the company of the Bishop of Dover and the Russian Orthodox Bishop of Bucharest (Bukarest).
Upon arrival at Buckingham Palace we were thoroughly screened prior to getting into the palace. A lovely afternoon was spent there and we actually were in the company of the Queen, though very few got to speak to her or Prince Philip, her husband. I am pleased to say however, that I was one of the folks selected to visit with them, and had a charming, but brief conversation with Prince Philip. Once we had departed this delightful event and all its fanfare, I thought to myself, goodness, all this and they forgot to sing happy birthday! (Which brings to mind, thank you to those who sent me gracious e-mail birthday greetings from home.)
A two hour bus trip from London to Canterbury got us back in time to call it a day, and then get up this morning to begin again the routine spelled out at the outset of this epistle. I must say that we did take a break this afternoon to have the “official Lambeth photo” shot, and after which I participated in an interview that I had committed to earlier this past week.
Tomorrow, the 11th Sunday after Pentecost, will find me taking the bus to Canterbury Cathedral in the morning where you will be remembered in my prayers, and then returning to the campus for a meeting on the continuing progress of Communion Partners in the afternoon.
Thus, this having been said, this is where we are at the end of Day Twelve.
In closing, please continue to hold me and those participating in this important meeting 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
When originally writing “A SECOND WORD FROM LAMBETH,” my computer did something strange and I lost the document. Since rewriting and sending the piece, I found that a portion of what had originally been written had been dropped out, and provide it at this time. Apologies.
Looking back at the past few days since I first wrote, I note here my participation in several meetings with various Primates and Bishops to address the work that is before us as a Communion; attended a hearing of the Windsor Consultation Group where preliminary work was started in this first of five meetings; and attended another meeting with the Covenant Design Group. Additionally, we spend about 90 minutes each afternoon in a “self-select session,” and this being a discussion group or workshop. Two significant meetings have been held with the regard to the Communion Partners plan. The first meeting, which was held this past Tuesday, found me being asked to speak to the gathered body of about 150-180 bishops on the design and implementation of the Communion Partners plan; and then a follow up meeting with a smaller group was held on the next evening.
Also in the past week, each of the Provinces has met individually. Our House of Bishops met on both occasions, and the gatherings (not meetings) were spent mostly with announcements, questions and answers. The first meeting, as some may have read, included the action of a few bishops to endeavour to have the Bishop of New Hampshire at these two gatherings. It was pointed out this was not possible as these were not meetings of the House of Bishops, but rather, were a part of the Lambeth Conference. The request was not supported by the leadership of our gathering, and the discussion was put to rest.
A highlight of the first gathering of our House of Bishops was the showing of a DVD sent to us by the youth at the Episcopal Youth Event in San Antonio. This was indeed delightful to have about 1,200 young people express their greetings to us with great enthusiasm (FYI – our diocese was well represented at this event).