Lambeth Conference – Some are Welcome in this Place

The BBC reports that +Gene Robinson will not be invited to the Lambeth Conference next year.

The decision making process now becomes very local and very personal. The last time I asked any of the Scottish bishops directly whether they would go to Lambeth if anyone was excluded was a couple of years ago. Without pause for thought, one said, “Yes” whilst another said “No”.

I’ve the same kind of dilemma myself. I was asked recently to contribute in a small way to the processes of the conference. At the time I agreed, but what do I do now?


  1. vicky says

    I can’t believe that I am saying this, but I’m going to any way. I think you stick with your word and do what you agreed to do. I think before I really flipped my basket-lid on this issue, I’d want to see a full list of attending bishops, and also whether a precedent has been set by Rowan, or just a careful bit of planning and diplomacy that always occurs when the heat is turned up.

    The press need a story. Gene not be invited is more interesting than the invites that go out to all the liberal minded closet bishops.

    I wish Gene had been invited. But Rowan made his stance clear about his position with regard to the American Pisces at Dar es Salaam. It may be that one day you’ll be in a position to (a) invite Gene to Synod in Scotland or (2) have to deal with the fact you hvaen’t been invited to the episcopal bash down South. However, at this point in time it strikes me that authentic, peaceful, living your life fully as you are is the best kind of testimony in the face of the divisions that are splitting Christians. The bottom line is that this debate is using the homosexual body as its ‘war zone’ but the war is really about how we read our Bibles and our Christian traditions. I would reject Rowan completely if it wasn’t that he seems quite valid to argue that we need to deal with the big questions behind our religious beliefs (liberal or evangelical), just as the Anglican Church seems always to have done. I think for me I’d prefer that my belief system rather than my sexuality was really seen as the thing that divided the Anglican Communion.

    So, having waffled around a bit, has Rowan invited equal numbers as liberals and evangelical/right wingers to Lambeth? Or will it be filled with Biblical literalists to the exclusion of the liberal non-literalists? If the latter, do your bit and then wipe the sand from your shoes. If the former, go be with the others who believe in the liberal tradition and smile.

  2. I agree with Vicki — you do what you said you would. And in so doing, you try speak for those who are not being given the chance to speak for themselves.

  3. I suppose it’s like staying in the Labour party to go on chipping away from the inside … but for heaven’s sake make sure you do some chipping!

  4. Elizabeth Anderson says

    Vicki’s point is eloquently put and I don’t have much to add beyond the fact that I sympathise with the dilemna. I can see the point of NOT attending/contributing if others are excluded – that is choosing solidarity with the excluded and refusing to condone/ be complicit in the act of exclusion by accepting the privilege oneself. HOWEVER, if all liberal-minded, inclusive-oriented persons refuse to attend, then we are essential abandoning the larger struggle and leaving the church to those who are happy for exclusion to continue. Sometimes being counted by one’s absence is useful, but I’m also reminded that decisions are made by those that show up – and, like Kimberly said, if you’re involved, it remains possible to speak for those who have been silenced. Or at least draw attention to the silence. It’s a tough call though. Not an easy decision.

  5. vicky says

    ps From New York Times:
    Rowan “did not invite the openly gay Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire and the bishop in Virginia who heads a conservative cluster of disaffected American churches affiliated with the archbishop of Nigeria.” – so it isn’t just Gene, it’s also the leading conservative candidate in the USA.
    Sounds like conflict management diplomacy to me. If both sides boycott, Lambeth will be rather empty…interesting that the press hasn’t bothered to emphasize the bishop of Virginia’s absence in quite the same way….

  6. kelvin says

    I don’t agree Vicky. There are huge differences between Gene Robinson’s position and that of Martyn Minns. Gene Robinson is a duly elected diocesan bishop of one of the dioceses of one of the churches that make up the Anglican Communion. Martyn Minns just isn’t.

    There never was the posibility of him being invited.

  7. vicky says

    Hmmm, good point Kelvin. But if we get into this debate about who should, who shouldn’t attend, perhaps we should actually be stepping back and asking, ‘is it ok to remain an episcopal clergy person who has liberal views on the Bible?’ At the end of the day protestantism allows the congregation to help make up the clery person’s mind not a potentate, doesn’t it? Perhaps it is the congregations to whom we should turn our attention?
    Alternatively, those of us with liberal convictions perhaps do need to leave the Anglican communion to become another conservative church grouping – I’m just not sure of that yet.

  8. kelvin says

    I make no claims to be a protestant. My claim is that I am a catholic.

    Anglicanism has, so far, allowed us all to make our own minds up about things. That is what is at stake.

  9. vicky says

    Oh dear, I seem to have opened a whole ‘nother can of worms, haven’t I. Umm. Can’t one be prostestant and catholic? Funny I haven’t really thought about it before. Perhaps the term protestant has too much of a history to be usable in this context, perhaps the point I was trying to raise is about the mutual authorities of the clergy and the congregation and how these can balance out sites of conflict (as well as exacerbate them). I apologize some of my habits from RC traditions are still ill-examined by me.

  10. vicky says

    ps whatever I think rationally about how to proceed this in no way excludes my disappointment, pain, and anger at what I see as a real injustice. I am not one to compromise for the sake of it. I do feel that excluding Gene isn’t exactly the best thing that could happen for me personally. But the bottom line is, if I am so disappointed, hurt and angry with the ecclesiastical organisation that I can’t see options for a peaceful way forward I believe that it would be time for me to withdraw completely from organized Christianity.

  11. asphodeline says

    Aargh, horrible decision. My first “gut” reaction was no, make a point of not going and make it clear why not. Then I read the responses here and they’ve got a point too.

    I hope you make the right decision for yourself that you feel comfortable with. Interesting point too about the Catholic bit. I don’t consider myself Protestant as such, more a Catholic who is exlcuded from many things Catholic by the Catholic church. I’ve always been a bit confused though!

    Good luck x

  12. kelvin says

    I’m interested that all voices responding so far are female.

  13. Does the excess of female voices not simply represent the majority of congregations? Not, of course, of clergy – yet. :=(

  14. kelvin says

    I’ve no idea what other congregations are like – St Mary’s is pretty gender balanced, as was my previous congregation.

    Are there really congregations that are mostly female? How very odd.

  15. Elizabeth says

    A convent maybe? Do you have convents in the SEC?

  16. kelvin says

    There are convents, but not terribly large ones.

  17. Eamonn says

    Not only are all the comments so far from women (so let me make a modest effort to redress the balance), but there are far fewer voices than one might have expected, given the seriousness of this exclusion, which in the long run could affect all Episcopalians and Anglicans worldwide. The notion that one has to ‘qualify’ to attend Lambeth by criteria other than lawful episcopal consecration is a new and disquieting departure. Why are more people not protesting?

  18. vicky says

    Thought this might be of interest.

  19. I’ve only ever belonged to my current congretation. There are men, but old, unwired ones for the most part.
    I’ve had another thought, though. Maybe women comment because women have been sidelined in the church for 2000 years. Coming out in sympathy, perhaps?

  20. kelvin says

    “unwired men” – what a helpful description.

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