Just finished the preliminary Windsor report hearing, next to brothers from Tanzania, England and Canada. I have to be very honest and say I was not expecting this to be a wow. Shame on me. The room’s still there. There weren’t any custard pies. And I can say that for me and the people sitting around me it was a very special experience, for the respectful, clear and charitable way strong points were made from all sides of the Wndsor report issues. It was good also to have affrmation from an ecumenical colleague that they acknowledge as deep a probem in other churches and commit to travel with us towards ways forward for the good of all, not just Anglicans. It’s good to know some partners see us as leading the pack in working this through, though it’s a scary place to be.
The official output will be streaming out soon enough, no doubt, but there was a general buzz of approval in the room for the willingness of everyone involved to talk to each other, not about each other. People experienced realism all round, which is a good place to start.
The highlight soundbite for me was from +Keith Ackerman, Bishop of Quincy, who placed before us big ecclesiological questions about finding a way to bring the family back together. All models, magisterial, conciliar, confessional have upsides and downsides, but we know we've got to do something, and the vast majority it seemed this afternoon, believe that, in God, we can. +Keith wisely drew attention to the limits of Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis compromise over things that matter absolutely: Thesis? Jesus is Lord. Antithesis? Jesus is not Lord. Big discussion synthesis? Jesus is occasionally Lord. Not. That one raised a laugh.
We are trying to learn enough about each other to be able to dance together, as another bishop put it. Before hysteria and extremist rhetoric steal the day, we were given an estimate that 0·7% of Episcopal congregations had split. We need to learn in conversation, not judgment; and we began to do that for real this afternoon. To use a Caribbean metaphor, you know you need a good roof for the hurricanes. It’s far from easy to fix your roof in the hurricane season — but it can be done, and we surely got going this afternoon. Praise God!