Sunday, 3 August 2008

Indaba process parting shots

Before the final plenary, I just wanted to capture one or two comments from my final indaba group. Whatever document there is to be will have been produced now, and it will not please everyone. I would guess the only way forward will be to try and grasp things on a meta level; to affirm what we do know. We are committed to staying together as a global communion, and to working it out locally. Other optons include split or centralise and keep the lid on the discussion. Neither of those options strike me as fantastically discipled or honest. Nous verrons.

So, in closing off the indaba process disquiet was expressed about the lack of closure (something I can live with in an open ended process). What comes out of this conference is us, as renewed disciples. The authority of the output will come from the fruit of the Spirit, and the capacity of this commitment to being together to spread virally. Powerplays and politics won’t build the kingdom anyway.

The fact is, one brother pointed out, we are exactly where Rowan promised we would be in the letter of invitation we all received. We have decided, said another senior brother, to sit closer to God and give each other space for true understanding and honest resolution. It is a recall to basic gospel principles. Jesus didn’t start a political movement or issue books of rules — he made friends.

Finally, in a gracious moving contribution which expressed serious reservations about the Covenant process and its possible development, another bishop celebrated the glory of learning how to be the friends Jesus called us to be, and said that the great gift of this assembly had been the beauty of istening to each other.

So the next time people come out of your PCC or synod meeting saying it was glorious, and its true beauty was that of listening lovingly to God in one another, youll know that the spirit of this assembly has begun to infect your PCC or synod! After 30 years of Church meetings, more of that going on, in itself, would be a pretty damn amazing outcome...

8 comments:

Jim Strader said...

+Alan, I would like to thank you as an openly gay Episcopal Priest in a committed companionship for your insightful, prayerful, and honest comments and reflections these past few weeks.

I believe that you have intentionally listened and respected the Spirit-led thoughts and prayers of the bishops you have communed with at Lambeth. I trust that faithful Anglicans like my companion and me will be able to continue our ministries. I hope, as St. Paul suggests, that all of our lives are held in Christ. It is through Jesus the Christ that all of us can find our individual and shared ways to the altar and to deeper relationships with God, our neighbors, and ourselves.

Thanks to you for your efforts to help all of become better friends of Jesus and of one another. Godspeed and Grace as you continue to move and lead others further along The Way. - Jim+

Erika Baker said...

"So the next time people come out of your PCC or synod meeting saying it was glorious, and its true beauty was that of listening lovingly to God in one another, you'll know that the spirit of this assembly has begun to infect your PCC"

You know, my PCC has been like that for years.

Our problems have only ever been with the official hierarchy that has consistently given us answers to questions we do not have, or not liked our local solutions, and has been quite inflexible.
Needless to say, my PCC is fully inclusive.

I hope our Bishop returns from Lambeth as caught up in this new experience of listening as you are!

Steve said...

It is refreshing to know a bishop can have a wise head on his shoulders and you do Alan. Building bridges with love is the most important aspect of outreach. Let us look at the person first and not their lifestyle, love them and show them that the Messiah is all about love. I hope many Bishops will find a softened heart on the hot topics going into Lambeth and that form this in the coming months, we can see glimpses of true love towards every person, just as Christ loved those he met when he was here.

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Jim, many thanks for your kindness — very encouraging in my current state of exhaustion! I now have experienced that the listening thing is prime, and whilst there has been a lot of activity based on what one might call the Conservative mandate of Lambeth 1:10, the bit of it about listening is one with which we have all done less. From our various sides of the debate, and there are far more than two, we have not put as much work into listening to others that we have done to represent our own. This Lambeth far more people did, enabled by the courage of those who were willing to cross cultural divides which are sometimes enforced by criminal law — I'd include in my tribute list, of course, VGR and some of the gay people who refused not to have a voice, but also, just to annoy everyone now, some of the Africans who refused not to have ears, and came with their voices, resisting the oices of many of their friends, in societies where the community is far more important than in the West. But, boy, do we need patience.

Erika, so glad you've got a listening parish council — I would hire you guys in for some of our parishes, except we have to learn every day how to be like this for ourselves, not hire in people like you to do it for us. If you've mastered the art, easier in the West than elsewhere, of full inclusion for LBGT people, I'd say the stretch is to go out and do the same for the poor,the lost the least — and even the homophobe?

Steve, bless you, sir. One thing I've realised is that persistent love that listens *is* the mission process, not a bolt on extra. If you can find really creative ways of living that with your nearest and dearest, you are part of the peace and salvation for the world we all try to pray for. The more this way of living spreads, virally, the more the walls will eventually come tumbling down. What crystaised this point for me was sitting faithfully under the Scriptures with Afrikaans, English and Black SA bishops. This would have been a crime right up to 1990-odd. Patience, persistence, love will reveal God's purpose in even us. Impatience, angry flashes in the pan, hate are always temptations close to the surface, even in our closest personal relationships. We all have a way to go, on every level, and we need grace...

Erika Baker said...

Bishop Alan
"I'd say the stretch is to go out and do the same for the poor,the lost the least — and even the homophobe?"

I hope we're doing that. One of them is a member of our PCC and I have the greatest respect for him, and although he doesn't like what I represent, he never hesitates to speak to me or pray with me.
It's only because of people as gracious as him that we are what we are, and I'm fully aware that in an lgbt affirming parish he is giving much more than I do.

I hope you get a relaxing break after the exhaustions of Lambeth!

Anonymous said...

Bishop Alan
"I'd say the stretch is to go out and do the same for the poor,the lost the least — and even the homophobe?"

Would you are to define the word "homophobe", please. It's not clear to me what you mean.

Thanks,
N. Parker.

Anonymous said...

It's been good to hear of the tremendous success of the indaba groups at allowing listening and growing to know and respect each other. Your blog has certainly made me feel less sceptical about the whole process.

Perhaps now we can get down to making sure the rest I.10 is adhered to in a loving manner? I.e. ensuring the homosexual agenda isn't allowed to continue its relentless advance. Homosexuals need love not licence.

Erika Baker said...

Bishop Alan
Before I sign off as promised, there has been something that has been niggling at the back of my mind.
You say "If you've mastered the art, easier in the West than elsewhere, of full inclusion for LBGT people, I'd say the stretch is to go out and do the same for the poor,the lost the least".

This has come up quite often - let's just concentrate on what really matters, let's concentrate on the poor and the disadvantaged.

At one level, the argument sounds to me a little like an abusing priest saying to his wife that it would be much better if they both concentrated on helping the deserving poor instead of her constantly going on about him beating her up.
It's not comparing like with like, and it's not a case of real priorities.

But the real question I have comes out of another real life story told to me only a couple of months ago by a closeted young lesbian woman. She wanted to do just that, look after the poor and the stranded in her parish, and so she joined a wonderful street pastor scheme that tries to reach out to prostitutes and to help reintegrate them into society, and the homeless, the mentally ill on the streets....

During the training sessions they were shown a video of real life situations they might come across. One of them was a Civil Parthership ceremony. One of the other trainees got up, face contorted with hatred, shaking her fist at the screen and shouting that she'd effing want to push their effing faces in.
No-one contradicted her, none of the trainers picked her up on it. They simply let it go and the women is now out there, evangelising for Jesus out of an
English village church just a few miles away from me.

What advice should I have given my friend?

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