The Listening Day – the way forward

One little detail from Saturday’s Listening Day made me pause for quiet meditation. It was the name badges.

Did anyone else who was there notice that most of us simply bore badges with our names on, some people had their title and diocese too? Yes, the bishops got the full works whereas the rest of us had stark names. Now, I don’t mind wearing a label with just my name on it. I never see my own pantomime title without having to supress a happy snort of derision anyway.

Perhaps they were their labels for Lambeth to ensure that they they get returned to the right diocese at the end of the process. I found myself wondering whether the bishops’ labels had printed on the reverse, “Please look after this bishop, thank you” in the manner of Paddington Bear.

None of this particularly bothered me though I wondered how that little decision came about.

However, it did get me thinking about other inequalities of the day and that in turn got me thinking about the way forward.

What do we do next was the cry? That the listening day was too little and too late was obvious to many (everyone?) but what comes next?

It is fairly clear to me that similar exercises might be carried out in localities around Scotland. Similar listening days in dioceses, areas/regions , congregations. Of course, we need to be clear that these days come at a high cost to some with a very low investment or risk from others.

However, let us not forget the inequalities of those badges. What can they teach us?

The model that the Listening Process offers is not the only way in which we might be dealing with these issues, but it seems to be the only show in town. Where does it lead us next?

Seems to me that there is more listening needed and there is a need for that listening to be mutual.

Thus, we need a Listening Day where we hear the experience of those who feel themselves to be out of kilter with the perceived majority view. We need a day of Listening to the experience of Evangelicals who sometimes express a great deal of hurt about they way in which they believe themselves to be treated.

What else? Well, a day of Listening to the Provincial Youth network dealing with sexuality issues is obvious, isn’t it? Or do we older Episcopalians think we know what they would say?

I think that we might need a day listening to the experience of clergy who have been divorced. That is one of the things I heard on Saturday that I was not expecting to hear.

And the bishops. Yes, if this Listening Day method has any currency, there has to be a mutuality about it which was curiously absent in those name badges. We need to have a day of Listening to our Bishops as they wrestle with all this, possibly both before and after Lambeth. It is not difficult to imagine the structure of this day – a serving bishop, a retired bishop who was at Lambeth before, a spouse of a bishop, a daughter of a bishop, a son of a bishop.

Hmmm. Yes.

We are a small church. There were plenty of people willing to carry this process forwards. We can do this as urgently as we need to. Can’t we?