Saturday, July 19, 2008

The way forward

The Lambeth Conference started this week and it has been amazingly quiet. They're on retreat, don't you know, and many of the Anglican websites report how the press is upset there is no NEWS (meaning no kerfuffles).

One of the blogs I read is called "My Manner of Life," written by a woman in Jefferson City, MO. Her diocese has a companion relationship with the Diocese of Lui in the Church of Sudan, and she reports of her reaction to seeing a photo of Bishop Daniel, waiting for a bus to go to the Lambeth retreat. It's quite lovely, and I do recommend a trip over there to read it. Here is the link. (My life has changed since I found out how to use that link function.)

And here, I think, is the key point.

Folks like to draw a thick line between the Episcopal Church and the churches of the "Global South." But I met this man. I spent a lot of time with him. I have no doubt that he will argue for the Gospel. From what I heard in my time with him, that means feeding people who are starving in Sudan, bringing them water and education and health care, and building a healthy society in Sudan. Those are the priorities I heard from him. When it comes to the "issues du jour," I hope his view will be informed by the time he spent in Missouri, where many folks introduced themselves and their partners.
And to me, this is key: actually meeting face to face, getting to know one another as members of the family of God. Some of them you like and some of them you don't, and that's not related to race or place of birth. But you can love one another all the same.

It's a shame that the bishops of Nigeria and Uganda (alone of all the African nations) are completely boycotting Lambeth. I wonder if deep down the real reason for doing so is that if they met those with whom they disagreed, these bishops might find they actually like them, and the internal conflict would be unbearable.

Kudos to Missouri for making connections with Sudan. For what it's worth, I think this is the way to go.


Lisa Fox said...

Amen, Laura. I agree completely about the importance of meeting and getting to know one another. After all, aren't we supposed to be all about the Incarnation?

(A small correction: Our diocese's companion relationship is with the Diocese of Lui, within the Episcopal Church of Sudan. Only Salisbury has a companion relationship with the entire province.)

A couple dozen people from our diocese have spent time in Lui. The folks there just cannot see us as godless heretics, nor can we see them as fundamentalist whack-jobs. We know each other by name, and we have shared our faith stories and shared prayer together.

I hope (in fact, I believe) the same thing is happening in the bishops' Bible study and retreat at Canterbury.

Laura Toepfer said...

Correction duly noted.