Some of you may have heard that there is a big meeting of Bishops going on in London called the Lambeth Conference.
There is a bit of a hoo-ha because not everyone agrees on everything, especially around human sexuality, and there is some upset from this side of the pond about how that is being handled.
We can get back to that. The Lambeth Conference meets every 10 years in London and all the Bishops in the Anglican Communion are invited.
The Anglican Communion? I hear you cry. The Episcopal Church has sister and brother Churches all around the world and we are Anglicans because we all started in one place - the Church of England. We are called different things around the world - some, like us, are Episcopalian, others are Anglican.
Just to be super-confusing there are a couple of groups in the USA which use the word “Anglican” - this is a long and complicated story. Suffice to say the Episcopal Church is “in communion” with the Worldwide
Anglican Communion, that is we have the blue checkmark of authenticity as the official Anglican church in the USA.
Confused? Don’t worry - it takes a while to wrap your head around all this.
The Bishops all go to England and meet at Lambeth Palace which is the home of the Archbishop of Canterbury. In some places in the Anglican Church the AofC can say what is to be done or not - but not in the Episcopal Church. Some here see him as a figurehead, some as a gathering point and others as largely irrelevant.
So what about the hoo-ha. Well, first it is a shame that we are getting pulled into it because there are lots of interesting things around Evangelism and Anglican Identity which are on the agenda. Whoever did what, why, where and when at the end of the day the Lambeth Conference is like Christimas dinne
r with all the relatives. There are those you agree with and those you don’t, some drive you totally crazy but you are also tied together by something bigger than the sum of your differences.
I do not mean to belittle the very real hurt and danger experienced by LGTBQ folk in many areas of the Anglican Church (most especially in places like Uganda). Neither do I want to take away from the fact that the Lambeth agenda has changed at the last minute to include a conversation around sexuality which is highly divisive and can be hurtful. All of this is true.
I do wonder whether the motive for the change is more benign than it appears, but time will tell.
The question the Episcopal Church will have to ask itself (again) is whether taking the pain of being a liberal voice at the table is something which we wish to continue doing. The last time things nearly blew apart compromise was reached, not a compromise about what we believe but about how we relate to our wider Church family.
Lambeth is a challenge, it always has been, It pulls together men and women from so many places and cultures with so many expectations and beliefs that there are going to be frictions. Learning to live in the discomfort of disagreement instead of cutting off from people is important for all of us but if that is just too damaging I understand that there are times when we have to leave the table. I hope this is not one of them.
The opinions expressed above are not universal, some folk at Redeemer will not agree with this analysis. Feel free to comment. As usual, abusive replies will not be tolerated.