Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Lambeth Conference – Bible Study and Indaba

Today was my last attendance at the Bible Study and Indaba. I spend tomorrow in London with the Lambeth Conference as we take part in a Walk of Witness to express support of the Millennium Development Goals, concluding with lunch at Lambeth Palace followed by tea at Buckingham Palace. It should be a memorable day. But then I go home for a quick turn around for a holiday.

The Bible Study was a spirited affair as we looked at the story of the woman taken in adultery and the following words of Jesus, ‘I am the light of the world’. In the exchange some fascinating insights emerged.

The Indaba group was a very different experience from yesterday and the concerns expressed had been taken on. We stayed within the group except for a few minutes in three’s or four’s following a DVD relating to the Millennium Development Goals. The two questions that were asked were, What is God calling us to do about justice and evangelism in our own context? And how can we work together to do that?

People spoke passionately and movingly and there was a sense of deep listening to the challenges that are faced in the different contexts. One bishop related how he had spoken to a bishop from Africa who commented that at Lambeth he eats three cooked meals a day, while at home some days he has no food at all. People shared their concerns, inevitably touching upon the sexuality issue, but although there was diversity, there was respect. One bishop from the Episcopal Church in the States spoke about his context in which there were a huge number of gay people, many who attended his church - there had been a time when the cathedral was burying fifty people a week because of the Aids epidemic. His diocese was actively committed to the relief of global suffering in core survival areas of the world.

At the end of the meeting the group needed to nominate three names from which one would be taken as the Listener for the group. The facilitator, or animateur, as he is called, did an excellent job of managing a process in which there were a number of views of how it should be done, and we got our three names. It feels as though it’s reached the point where things might really start to happen. And I’m about to leave. I have to say I feel some sadness. It’s been excellent to share this part of the journey.

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