Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Presentation September 14th

I know it's been awhile and yes, the Lambeth Conference is far from over and I am safely back in Los Angeles, trying to catch up on summer course work and comfortably living in a friend's home for a month while I find a new apartment.

I would really like to give my concluding remarks about Lambeth, but honestly, I am still in the processing phase, thinking over everything that I saw, the good and the bad, and how I might communicate it. I promise that I will have some sure thoughts closer to the end of September.

As well, there is an opportunity to hear more about my experiences at Lambeth and hopefully see some pictures at St. John's Cathedral, Sept 14th at 9 am. It's going to be fun. I hope to see you there.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Edinburgh - Oban - Mull - IONA!

Hello everyone!

I don't have much time since I am in an internet cafe and my time is running out!

I have made it safely through Edinburgh and spent all day today in Iona. It was beautiful! Tomorrow I will be heading back to Edinburgh and then taking a bus to London to spend my last day there. I will try to write more soon.

I miss everyone!

Saturday, 9 August 2008

YORK

I arrived in York yesterday afternoon after spending an hour or so looking for B&Bs to stay at. Everything was so expensive (around 100 a night) until my friend Gordon drove me to the outskirts of York and I found a lovely B&B for just 60 a night (yes, I've found that this is cheap in England). Thankfully, my room includes a nice queen size bed and a bath all to myself! Last night I've never slept better.

I spent all day in York...or shall we say, in the York Minster. It was raining all day so I purchased a ticket for the Minster that allowed me to explore anywhere. In between exploring the grounds and the crypt, I attended a Holy Communion service as well as an Evensong later in the day. The Holy Communion was interesting because as we were celebrating in the nave, tourists were still roaming around and even stopped to watch us. I felt like I was on display.... but if the Minster was going to have a great ministry, Holy Communion during midday is it. What better way to minister to people than by observing the Eucharist while people wander around treating the beautiful building as nothing but a historical landmark. The services allow the building to come alive and make people realize, who otherwise would not, that people still find God there today.

Thrilled to see the Minster, I will be heading to Edinburgh tomorrow.

Friday, 8 August 2008

My Return Date

Hello everyone-

My official return date is August 16th. Due to my needing to find an apartment as well as finish up course work, I thought it would be best to return earlier than I planned. It still allows room for me to travel to York, Edinburgh, Iona and London. Today, I will be taking off on a road trip towards York and stay a couple of nights there. I plan to attend the Sunday Eucharist at the Westminster. I hope everyone is doing well and I will see everyone very soon!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Photos

Bishops, Spouses and Stewards in front of Doddington Palace


Hurray for Stewards!


The Steward Choir Singing at a Morning Eucharist

Youth Conference

Now that the Lambeth Conference is over (all the bishops left yesterday morning), there is another conference for just the stewards that started today and will end on Friday morning. I will plan to keep writing until I return home (the date is questionable...I might be returning home September 1st and I might be returning a little earlier to take care of some course work for Fuller). Whatever the date, I hope to update you about the Youth Conference and also about my travels...wherever that might be.

I can now brag that the stewards have spent more time with the ABC than the bishops who came here for the conference. This morning the ABC spent 3 hours talking with us in a seminar room here. The first half of the morning he spent listening to our reflections about the conference. The second half we listened to him reflect on the conference and then we had time for Q & A. The questions ranged from "What is your favorite color?" (he answered dark green) to questions about his vocation and the ways in which he deals with the conflict in the WWAC. He encouraged us to speak from the center and to listen to each other...and be hesitant about being too reactionary. I enjoyed the time with him because we haven't had time to process everything quite yet. The conference went pretty fast and each day brought a new issue to the front. The time we spent with the ABC was reflective and informal...and created space for the stewards to process the things we saw and the ideas we heard. The campus is strange without the bishops being here, but in a sense, creates another reflective space for the stewards. We were here before the bishops arrived and we remain after they departed. A campus that once was filled with the color of purple and the loud sounds of praise every morning (since my room is right next to the Big Top), my mornings are filled with the easy sounds of the wind and the subtle conversation of students that walk just below my window. I have to say I do miss the bishops, despite the fact that sometimes they ordered us around...or even treated us less than human beings. I miss most the conversation and the friendships that I formed as I walked from place to place or as we talked in the Rutherford Bar late at night when all the activities subsided.

It's interesting how this is all working out...how I am moving from the bustle of the conference to a very quiet place in Iona later next week and a time of deep reflection and prayer as I prepare to start another busy year in seminary.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Reflections Upon the Lambeth Conference 2008

Here is the fourth draft/ summary from yesterday's Indaba group discussions.

An Indaba are a group of bishops (usually consisting of 3-4 Bible study groups). They meet almost everyday to talk about a specific issue in the church. For August 2nd, it was a combination of homosexuality and the Windsor Continuation Process, which is a group (chaired by Bishop Clive Handford) that will address the remaining questions around the Windsor Report, a report that was published back in 2004 and are the results of commission that studied the various challenges to the unity of the Anglican Communion (one being the issue of homosexuality). Use the link below to read the reflections.

http://www.lambethconference.org/vault/Reflections_Document_080802.pdf

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Interesting Chart by One of the Stewards

The Next to Last Day of Lambeth

Hello everyone.

I'm sorry that I've been away since Wednesday. These past couple of days have been busy- especially as the conference winds down and we celebrate our final day together tomorrow. I had a lovely dinner with Bishop Bruno, Mary and others from the LA Diocese last night. It was a lovely evening spent at the Falstaff Hotel in downtown Canterbury and I greatly appreciate Bishop Bruno's hospitality. The evening finished at Bishop's Finger, a pub recommended by Father Lester before I left for Britain. I also spent more time speaking with Bishop Bruce Coldwell of Wyoming as well as Bishop Mark Andrus of California. I feel like I've made some lasting connections as well as experienced part of the Anglican Church that I've never seen before.

I've greatly enjoyed the Lambeth Conference because I think it serves as a powerful symbol of unity (despite what you've heard). What I've seen here is bishops forming relationships with one another, sharing stories and getting along with each other. For me, I've found communion through getting to know some of the bishops and especially through working with the other stewards and hearing their stories. Daniel, my friend from Myanmar who is also a deacon for his diocese, has to walk 9 days (about 30 miles a day) to get from his village to his diocesan office. This is what the Lambeth Communion is about. It is about getting to know those who you might call your brothers and sisters in Christ, but may never meet without the conference, as well as to be reminded that we are all part of a family. You can't choose your family members and you learn to deal with each other despite the differences and the arguments. Unfortunately, the communion is beginning to resemble less of a family that is willing to stick together and more of a relationship built on conditions. For this reason it is very disheartening because it creates extreme violence as well as marginalization of people who deserve to have a voice. For some bishops that I've talked to, they explain to me that homosexuality is not an issue because they are convinced that there are no gays in their province. "Really?" I would say. It is for these that need a voice.

Well, I know some of you who read this blog are interested in the presidential addresses that Archbishop Rowan gives through the conference. Below is the second address. I hope you enjoy it (since the addresses are hard to come by if you're not at the conference).

The Archbishop of Canterbury Second Presidential Address to the Lambeth Conference 2008
Posted On : July 29, 2008 5:12 PM | Posted By : Webmaster
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29 July 2008

‘What is Lambeth ’08 going to say?’ is the question looming larger all the time as this final week unfolds. But before trying out any thoughts on that, I want to touch on the prior question, a question that could be expressed as ‘Where is Lambeth ’08 going to speak from?’. I believe if we can answer that adequately, we shall have laid some firm foundations for whatever content there will be.

And the answer, I hope, is that we speak from the centre. I don’t mean speaking from the middle point between two extremes — that just creates another sort of political alignment. I mean that we should try to speak from the heart of our identity as Anglicans; and ultimately from that deepest centre which is our awareness of living in and as the Body of Christ.

We are here at all, surely, because we believe there is an Anglican identity and that it’s worth investing our time and energy in it. I hope that some of the experience of this Conference will have reinforced that sense. And I hope too that we all acknowledge that the only responsible and Christian way of going on engaging with those who aren’t here is by speaking from that centre in Jesus Christ where we all see our lives held and focused.

And, as I suggested in my opening address, speaking from the centre requires habits and practices and disciplines that make some demands upon everyone — not because something alien is being imposed, but because we know we shall only keep ourselves focused on the centre by attention and respect for each other — checking the natural instinct on all sides to cling to one dimension of the truth revealed. I spoke about council and covenant as the shape of the way forward as I see it. And by this I meant, first, that we needed a bit more of a structure in our international affairs to be able to give clear guidance on what would and would not be a grave and lasting divisive course of action by a local church. While at the moment the focus of this sort of question is sexual ethics, it could just as well be pressure for a new baptismal formula or the abandonment of formal reference to the Nicene Creed in a local church’s formulations; it could be a degree of variance in sacramental practice — about the elements of the Eucharist or lay presidency; it could be the regular incorporation into liturgy of non-Scriptural or even non-Christian material.

Some of these questions have a pretty clear answer, but others are open for a little more discussion; and it seems obvious that a body which commands real confidence and whose authority is recognised could help us greatly. But the key points are confidence and authority. If we do develop such a capacity in our structures, we need as a Communion to agree what sort of weight its decisions will have; hence, again, the desirability of a covenantal agreement.

Some have expressed unhappiness about the ‘legalism’ implied in a covenant. But we should be clear that good law is about guaranteeing consistence and fairness in a community; and also that in a community like the Anglican family, it can only work when there is free acceptance. Properly understood, a covenant is an expression of mutual generosity — indeed, ‘generous love’, to borrow the title of the excellent document on Inter-Faith issues which was discussed yesterday. And we might recall that powerful formulation from Rabbi Jonathan Sacks — ‘Covenant is the redemption of solitude’.

Mutual generosity : part of what this means is finding out what the other person or group really means and really needs. The process of this last ten days has been designed to help us to find out something of this — so that when we do address divisive issues, we have created enough of a community for an intelligent generosity to be born. It is by no means a full agreement, but it will, I hope, have strengthened the sense that we have at least a common language, born out of the conviction that Jesus Christ remains the one unique centre.

And within that conviction, what has been heard? I want now to engage in what might be a rather presumptuous exercise — and certainly feels like a risky one. I want to imagine what people on different sides of our most painful current debate hope others have heard or are beginning to hear in our time together. I want to imagine what the main messages would be, within an atmosphere of patience and charity, from those in our Communion who hold to a clear and traditional doctrinal and moral conviction, and also from those who, starting from the same centre, find fewer problems or none with some recent innovations. Although these voices are inevitably rooted in the experience of the developing world and of North America, the division runs through many other provinces internally as well.

So first : what might the traditional believer hope others have heard? ‘What we seek to do in our context is faithfully to pass on what you passed on to us — Holy Scripture, apostolic ministry, sacramental discipline. But what are we to think when all these things seem to be questioned and even overturned? We want to be pastorally caring to all, to be “inclusive” as you like to say. We want to welcome everyone. Yet the gospel and the faith you passed on to us tell us that some kinds of behaviour and relationship are not blessed by God. Our love and our welcome are unreal if we don’t truthfully let others know what has shaped and directed our lives — so along with welcome, we must still challenge people to change their ways. We don’t see why welcoming the gay or lesbian person with love must mean blessing what they do in the Church’s name or accepting them for ordination whatever their lifestyle. We seek to love them — and, all right, we don’t always make a good job of it : but we can’t just say that there is nothing to challenge. Isn’t it like the dilemma of the early Church — welcoming soldiers, yet seeking to get them to lay down their arms?

‘But please remember also that — while you may say that what you do needn’t affect us — your decisions make a vast difference to us. In this world of instant communication, our neighbours know what you do, and they see us as sharing the responsibility. Imagine what that means where those neighbours are passionately traditional Christians — and what it means for our own members, who will be drawn to leave us for a “safer”, more orthodox church. Imagine what it means when those neighbours are non-Christians, delighted to find a stick to beat us with. Imagine what it is to be known as the ‘gay church’ in a context where that spells real contempt and danger.

‘Don’t misunderstand us. We’re not looking for safety and comfort. Some of us know quite a lot about carrying the cross. But when that cross is laid on us by fellow-Christians, it’s quite a lot harder to bear. Don’t be too surprised if some of us want to be at a distance from you — or if we want to support minorities in your midst who seem to us to be suffering.

‘But we are here. We’ve taken a risk in coming, because many who think like us feel we’ve betrayed them just by meeting you. But we value our Communion, we want to understand you and we want you to understand us. Can you find some way of being generous that helps us believe you care about us and about the common language and belief of the Church? Can you — in plain words — step back and let us think and pray about these things without giving us the impression that the debate is over and we’ve lost and that doesn’t matter to you?’

And then : what might the not so traditional believer hope has been heard?

‘What we seek to do in our context is to bring Jesus alive in the minds and hearts of the people of our culture. Trying to speak the language of the culture and relate honestly to where people really are doesn’t have to be a betrayal of Scripture and tradition. We know we’re pushing the boundaries — but don’t some Christians always have to do that? Doesn’t the Bible itself suggest that?

‘We are often hurt, angry and bewildered at the way many others in the Communion see us and treat us these days — as if we were spiritual lepers or traitors to every aspect of Christian belief. We know that no-one is the best judge in their own case, but we see in our church life at least some marks of the Spirit’s gifts. And part of that is acknowledging the gifts we’ve seen in gay and lesbian believers. They will certainly be likely to feel that the restraint you ask for is a betrayal. Please try to see why this is such a dilemma for many of us. You may not see it, but they’re still at risk in our society, still vulnerable to murderous violence. And we have to say to some of you that we long for you to speak up for your gay and lesbian neighbours in situations where they are subject to appalling discrimination. There have been Lambeth Resolutions about that too, remember.

‘A lot of the time, we feel we’re being made scapegoats. Other provinces have acute moral and disciplinary problems, or else they more or less successfully refuse to admit the realities in their midst. But those of us who have faced the complex issues around gay relationships in what we feel to be an open and prayerful way are stigmatised and demonised.

‘Not all of us, of course, supported or took part in the actions that have caused so much trouble. Some of us remain strongly opposed, many of us want to find ways of strengthening our bonds with you. But even those who don’t stand with the majority on innovations will often feel that the life of a whole church, a life that is varied and complex but often deeply and creatively faithful to Christ and the Scriptures, is being wrongly and unjustly seen by you and some of your friends.

‘We want to be generous, and we are hurt that some throw back in our faces both the experience and the resources we long to share. Can you try and see us as fellow-believers struggling to proclaim the same Christ, and to be patient with us?’

Two sets of feelings and perceptions, two appeals for generosity. For the first speaker, the cost of generosity may be accusation of compromise : you’ve been bought, you’ve been deceived by airy talk into tolerating unscriptural and unfaithful policies. For the second speaker, the cost of generosity may be accusations of sacrificing the needs of an oppressed group for the sake of a false or delusional unity, giving up a precious Anglican principle for the sake of a dangerous centralisation. But there is the challenge. If both were able to hear and to respond generously, perhaps we could have something more like a conversation of equals — even something more like a Church.

At Dar-es-Salaam, the primates tried to find a way of inviting different groups to take a step forward simultaneously towards each other. It didn’t happen, and each group was content to blame the other. But the last 18 months don’t suggest that this was a good outcome. Can this Conference now put the same kind of challenge? To the innovator, can we say, ‘Don’t isolate yourself; don’t create facts on the ground that make the invitation to debate ring a bit hollow’? Can we say to the traditionalist, ‘Don’t invest everything in a church of pure and likeminded souls; try to understand the pastoral and human and theological issues that are urgent for those you are opposing, even if you think them deeply wrong’?

I think we perhaps can, if and only if we are captured by the vision of the true Centre, the heart of God out of which flows the impulse of an eternal generosity which creates and heals and promises. It is this generosity which sustains our mission and service in Our Lord’s name. And it is this we are called to show to each other.

At the moment, we seem often to be threatening death to each other, not offering life. What some see as confused or reckless innovation in some provinces is felt as a body-blow to the integrity of mission and a matter of literal physical risk to Christians. The reaction to this is in turn felt as an annihilating judgement on a whole local church, undermining its legitimacy and pouring scorn on its witness. We need to speak life to each other; and that means change. I’ve made no secret of what I think that change should be — a Covenant that recognizes the need to grow towards each other (and also recognizes that not all may choose that way). I find it hard at present to see another way forward that would avoid further disintegration. But whatever your views on this, at least ask the question : ‘Having heard the other person, the other group, as fully and fairly as I can, what generous initiative can I take to break through into a new and transformed relation of communion in Christ?’

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks' Address

I found a copy of it for you. Enjoy!

The Relationship between the People and God.
Lambeth Conference 28th July 2008

Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks. Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth

Friends -- this is for me a profoundly moving moment. You we have invited me, a Jew, to join your deliberations, and I thank you for that, and for all it implies. There is a lot of history between our faiths, and for me to stand here, counting as I do the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York as beloved colleagues, is a signal of hope for our children and the world they will inherit.
Many centuries ago the Jewish sages asked, who is a hero of heroes? They answered, not one who defeats his enemy but one who turns an enemy into a friend. That is what has happened between Jews and Christians: strangers have become friends. And on this, I think the first occasion a rabbi has addressed a plenary session of the Lambeth Conference, I want to thank God in the words of the ancient Jewish blessing, Shehecheyanu vekiyemanu vehigiyanu lazman hazeh. Thank You, God, for bringing us to this time.

I

You have asked me to speak about covenant, and that is what I am going to do. We will discover not only a transformative idea, one that changes us as we think of it; not only a way forward for faith in the 21st century. We will also find ourselves better able to answer the question: what is the role of religion in society, even in a secular society like Britain.


And let's begin our journey at the place we passed on our march last Thursday, in Westminster. It was such a lovely day that I imagine meeting up with my granddaughter on the way back and taking her to see some of the sights of London. We'd begin where we were, outside Parliament, and I imagine her asking what happens there, and I'd say, politics. And she'd ask, what's politics about, and I'd say: it's about the creation and distribution of power.


And then we'd go to the city, and see the Bank of England, and she'd ask what happens there and I'd say: economics. And she'd say: what's economics about, and I'd say: it's about the creation and distribution of wealth.


And then on our way back we'd pass St Paul's Cathedral, and she'd ask, what happens there, and I'd say: worship. And she'd ask: what's worship about? What does it create and distribute? And that's a good question, because for the past 50 years, our lives have been dominated by the other two institutions: politics and economics, the state and the market, the logic of power and the logic of wealth. The state is us in our collective capacity. The market is us as individuals. And the debate has been: which is more effective? The left tends to favour the state. The right tends to favour the market. And there are endless shadings in between.


But what this leaves out of the equation is a third phenomenon of the utmost importance, and I want to explain why. The state is about power. The market is about wealth. And they are two ways of getting people to act in the way we want. Either we force them to – the way of power. Or we pay them to – the way of wealth.


But there is a third way, and to see this let's perform a simple thought experiment. Imagine you have total power, and then you decide to share it with nine others. How much do you have left? 1/10 of what you had when you began. Suppose you have a thousand pounds, and you decide to share it with nine others. How much do you have left? 1/10 of what you had when you began.

II


But now suppose that you decide to share, not power or wealth, but love, or friendship, or influence, or even knowledge, with nine others. How much do I have left? Do I have less? No, I have more; perhaps even 10 times as much.


Why? Because love, friendship and influence are things that only exist by virtue of sharing. I call these covenantal goods -- the goods that, the more I share, the more I have.
In the short term at least, wealth and power are zero-sum games. If I win, you lose. If you win, I lose. Covenantal goods are non-zero-sum games, meaning, if I win, you also win. And that has huge consequences.


Wealth and power, economic and politics, the market and the state, are arenas of competition, whereas covenantal goods are arenas of co-operation.


Where do we find covenantal goods like love, friendship, influence and trust? They are born, not in the state, and not in the market, but in marriages, families, congregations, fellowships and communities -- even in society, if we are clear in our minds that society is something different from the state.


One way of seeing what's at stake is to understand the difference between two things that look and sound alike but actually are not, namely contracts and covenants.


In a contract, two or more individuals, each pursuing their own interest, come together to make an exchange for mutual benefit. So there is the commercial contract that creates the market, and the social contract that creates the state.


A covenant is something different. In a covenant, two or more individuals, each respecting the dignity and integrity of the other, come together in a bond of love and trust, to share their interests, sometimes even to share their lives, by pledging their faithfulness to one another, to do together what neither can achieve alone.


A contract is a transaction. A covenant is a relationship. Or to put it slightly differently: a contract is about interests. A covenant is about identity. It is about you and me coming together to form an 'us'. That is why contracts benefit, but covenants transform.


So economics and politics, the market and the state, are about the logic of competition. Covenant is about the logic of co-operation.

Now I want to ask, why is it that societies cannot exist without co-operation? Why is it that state and market alone cannot sustain a society?


The answer to that is an absolutely fascinating story, and it begins with Charles Darwin.


Darwin hit a problem he could not solve. I understand from Darwin that all life evolves by natural selection, which means, by the way of competition for scarce resources: food, shelter and the like.


If so, you would expect that all societies would value the most competitive, even the most ruthless individuals. But Darwin noticed that it isn't so. In fact, in every society of which he knew, it was the most altruistic individuals who were the most valued and admired, not the most competitive. Or, if I can put it in the language of Richard Dawkins: a bundle of selfish genes get together and produce selfless people. That was Darwin's paradox, and it lay unsolved until the late 1970s.


It was then that three very different disciplines converged: sociobiology, a branch of mathematics called games theory, and high-speed computer simulation. Together they produced something called the iterated prisoner's dilemma.


To cut a long story short, what they discovered was that though natural selection works through the genes of individuals, individuals -- certainly in the higher life-forms -- survive only because they are members of groups. And groups survive only on the basis of reciprocity and trust, on what I have called covenant, or the logic of co-operation. One human versus one lion, the lion wins. Ten humans versus one lion, the humans are in with a chance.


It turns out that the very things that make Homo sapiens different – the use of language, the size of the brain, even the moral sense itself -- have to do with the ability to form and sustain groups: the larger the brain, the larger the group.


Neo-Darwinians call this reciprocal altruism. Sociologists call it trust. Economists call it social capital. And it is one great intellectual discoveries of our time. Individuals need groups. Groups need co-operation. And co-operation needs covenant, bonds of reciprocity and trust.


Traditionally, that was the work of religion. After all, the word 'religion' itself comes from a Latin root meaning 'to bind'. And whether we take a conservative thinker like Edmund Burke, or a radical like Thomas Paine, or a social scientist like Emil Durkheim, or an outside observer like Alexis de Tocqueville, they all saw this, and explained it, each in their own way. And now it has been scientifically demonstrated. If there is only competition and not co-operation, if there is only the state and the market and no covenantal relationships, society will not survive.


What then happens to a society when religion wanes and there is nothing covenantal to take its place?
Relationships break down. Marriage grows weak. Families become fragile. Communities atrophy. And the result is that people feel vulnerable and alone. If they turn those feelings outward, the result is often anger turning to violence. If they turn them inward, the result is depression, stress related syndromes, eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse. Either way, there is spiritual poverty in the midst of material affluence.


It doesn't happen all at once, but slowly, gradually and inexorably. Societies without covenants and the institutions needed to inspire and sustain them, disintegrate. Initially, the result is a loss of graciousness in our shared and collective lives. Ultimately, it is a loss of freedom itself.

III

That is where we are. And now let's go back to where it all began.


In the ancient Near East, covenants existed in the form of treaties between tribes or states. They had little to do with religion. To the contrary, in the ancient world, religion was about politics and economics, power and wealth. The gods were the supreme powers. They were also the controllers of wealth, in the form of rain, the earth's fertility and its harvests. So, if you wanted power or wealth, you had to placate the gods.


The idea that there could be a covenant between God and humanity must have seemed absurd. If you had told people there could be, between the Infinite and the finite, between the eternal and the ephemeral, a bond of love and trust, I think they would have said: go and lie down until the mood passes.


If you had added that God loves, not the wealthy and the powerful, but the poor and the powerless, they would have thought you were mad. But that was the idea that transformed the world.


Covenant is a key word of Tenach, the Hebrew Bible, where it occurs more than 250 times. No one put it more simply than the prophet Hosea, in words we say every weekday morning at the start of our prayers:

I will betroth you to me forever;
I will betroth you to me in righteousness and justice, love and compassion.
I will betroth you in faithfulness,
and you will know the LORD.

A covenant is a betrothal, a bond of love and trust. And it was the prophet Jeremiah, who in the name of God so beautifully spelled out the result:

I remember the devotion of your youth,
the love of your betrothal,
how you were willing to follow me into the desert,
through an unknown, unsown land.

Covenant is what allows us to face the future without fear, because we know we are not alone. 'Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me.' Covenant is the redemption of solitude.

IV

There are three covenants set out in the Bible's opening books of Genesis and Exodus. The first, in Genesis 9, is the covenant with Noah and through him with all humanity. The second, in Genesis 17, is the covenant with Abraham. The third, in Exodus 19-24, is the covenant with the Israelites in the days of Moses. None supersedes or replaces the others. And without going into details, I want to look at one significant distinction between two types of covenant.


For this insight we are indebted the individual I regard as the greatest Jewish thinker of the 20th century, a man whose name may not be familiar to you, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik.


Perhaps the simplest way of approaching the idea is to ask: when did the Israelites become a nation? The Mosaic books give us two apparently contradictory answers. The first is: in Egypt. We read in Deuteronomy 26: 'our ancestors went down to Egypt and there they became a nation'. The second answer is, only when the Israelites left Egypt and stood at the foot of Mount Sinai, where they became, in the words of Exodus 19, 'a kingdom of priests and a holy nation'. Now these two answers can't both be true -- or can they?


Rabbi Soloveitchik's answer is that both are true, but they involve two different kinds of covenant. There is, he said, a covenant of fate and a covenant of faith, and they are very different things.


A group can be bound in the covenant of fate when they suffer together, when they face a common enemy. They have shared tears, shared fears, shared responsibility. They huddle together for comfort and mutual protection. That is a covenant of fate.


A covenant of faith is quite different. That is made by a people who share dreams, aspirations, ideals. They don't need a common enemy, because they have a common hope. They come together to create something new. They are defined not by what happens to them but by what they commit themselves to do. That is a covenant of faith.


Now we understand how it was that the Israelites had two foundational moments, the first in Egypt and the second at Sinai. In Egypt they became a nation bound by a covenant of fate -- a fate of slavery and suffering. At Sinai they became a nation bound by a covenant of faith, defined by the Torah and by God's commands. That distinction is vital to what I have to say today.


Why is it that no-one made this distinction before Rabbi Soloveitchik, in other words, before the second half of the 20th century? The answer lies in one word: Holocaust.


At the level of faith, Jews in the 19th and 20th centuries were deeply divided. But during the Holocaust they shared the same fate, whether they were Orthodox or non-Orthodox, religious or secular, identifying or totally assimilated. What Rabbi Soloveitchik was doing, within a deeply fragmented Jewish world, was to rescue a sense of solidarity with the victims. Hence his concept, always implicit within the tradition but never spelled out so explicitly before, of a covenant of fate even in the absence of a covenant of faith.

V

Now that we have made this distinction, we can state a proposition of the utmost importance. When we read Genesis and Exodus superficially, it seems as if the covenants of Noah, Abraham and Sinai are the same sort of thing. But now we can see that they are not the same kind of thing at all.


The covenants of Abraham and Sinai are covenants of faith. But the covenant of Noah says nothing about faith. The world had been almost destroyed by a flood. All mankind, all life, with the exception of Noah's Ark, had shared the same fate. Humanity after the Flood was like the Jewish people after the Holocaust. The covenant of Noah is not a covenant of faith but a covenant of fate.


God says: Never again will I destroy the world. But I cannot promise that you will never destroy the world -- because I have given you free will. All I can do is teach you how not to destroy the world. How?
The covenant of Noah has three dimensions. First: 'He who sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God, He created man.' The first element is the sanctity of human life.


The second: Read Genesis 9 carefully and you will see that five times God insists that the covenant of Noah is not merely with humanity, but with all life on earth. So the second element is the integrity of the created world.


The third lies in the symbol of the covenant, the rainbow, in which the white light of God is refracted into all the colours of the spectrum. The rainbow symbolises what I have called the dignity of difference. The miracle at the heart of monotheism is that unity up there creates diversity down here. These three dimensions define the covenant of fate.


There is a famous prophecy in Isaiah 11, that one day the wolf will lie down with the lamb. It hasn't happened yet (though there is the apocryphal story of a zoo in which, in a single cage, a lion did lie down with a lamb. How do you do that? a visitor asked. The zookeeper replied: 'Simple – you just need a new lamb every day').


There was, however, one time when the wolf did lie down with the lamb. When? In Noah's Ark. Why? Not because they were friends, but because otherwise they would drown. That is the covenant of fate.


Note that the covenant of fate precedes the covenant of faith, because faith is particular, but fate is universal. That, then, is Genesis 9: the global covenant of human solidarity.

VI

And with that, I come to the present. We are living through one of the most fateful ages of change since Homo sapiens first set foot on earth. Globalisation and the new information technologies are doing two things simultaneously. First, they are fragmenting our world. Narrowcasting is taking the place of broadcasting. National cultures are growing weaker. We are splitting into ever smaller sects of the like-minded.


But globalisation is also thrusting us together as never before. The destruction of a rainforests there adds to global warming everywhere. Political conflict in one place can create a terrorist incident in another, thousands of miles away. Poverty there moves consciences here. At the very moment that covenants of faith are splitting apart, the covenant of fate is forcing us together -- and we have not yet proved equal to it.


All three elements of the global covenant are in danger. The sanctity of human life is being desecrated by terror. The integrity of creation is threatened by environmental catastrophe. Respect for diversity is imperiled by what one writer has called the clash of civilisations. And to repeat -- the covenant of fate precedes the covenant of faith. Before we can live any faith we have to live. And we must honour our covenant with future generations that they will inherit a world in which it is possible to live. That is the call of God in our time.

VII

Friends, I stand before you as a Jew, which means not just as an individual, but as a representative of my people. And as I prepared this lecture, within my soul were the tears of my ancestors. We may have forgotten this, but for a thousand years, between the First Crusade and the Holocaust, the word 'Christian' struck fear into Jewish hearts. Think only of the words the Jewish encounter with Christianity added to the vocabulary of human pain: blood libel, book burnings, disputations, forced conversions, inquisition, auto da fe, expulsion, ghetto and pogrom.


I could not stand here today in total openness, and not mention that book of Jewish tears.


And I have asked myself, what would our ancestors want of us today?


And the answer to that lies in the scene that brings the book of Genesis to a climax and a closure. You remember: after the death of Jacob, the brothers fear that Joseph will take revenge. After all, they had sold him into slavery in Egypt.


Instead, Joseph forgives -- but he does more than forgive. Listen carefully to his words:


You intended to harm me,
but God intended it for good,
to do what is now being done,
to save many lives.


Joseph does more than forgive. He says, out of bad has come good. Because of what you did to me, I have been able to save many lives. Which lives? Not just those of his brothers, but the lives of the Egyptians, the lives of strangers. I have been able to feed the hungry. I have been able to honour the covenant of fate -- and by honouring the covenant of fate between him and strangers, Joseph is able to mend the broken covenant of faith between him and his brothers.


In effect, Joseph says to his brothers: we cannot unwrite the past, but we can redeem that past – if we take our tears and use them to sensitise us to the tears of others.


And now we see a remarkable thing. Although Genesis is about the covenant of faith between God and Abraham, it begins and ends with the covenant of fate: first in the days of Noah, and later in the time of Joseph.


Both involve water: in the case of Noah, there is too much, a flood; in the case of Joseph, too little, a drought.


Both involve saving human life. But Noah saves only his family. Joseph saves an entire nation of strangers.
Both involve forgiveness. In the case of Noah, God forgives. In the case of Joseph, it is a human being who forgives.


And both involve a relationship with the past. In the case of Noah, the past is obliterated. In the case of Joseph, the past is redeemed.

VIII

And today, between Jews and Christians, that past is being redeemed. In 1942, in the midst of humanity's darkest night, a great Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple, and a great Chief Rabbi, J. H. Hertz, came together in a momentous covenant of fate, called the Council of Christians and Jews. And since then, Jews and Christians have done more to mend their relationship than any other two religions on earth, so that today we meet as beloved friends.


And now we must extend that friendship more widely. We must renew the global covenant of fate, the covenant that began with Noah and reached a climax in the work of Joseph, the work of saving many lives.
And that is what we began to do last Thursday when we walked side-by-side: Christians, Jews, Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Zoroastrians and Baha'i. Because though we do not share a faith, we surely share a fate. Whatever our faith or lack of faith, hunger still hurts, disease still strikes, poverty still disfigures, and hate still kills. Few put it better than that great Christian poet, John Donne: 'Every man's death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind.'


Friends, if we look at Genesis 50, we will see that just before Joseph says his great words of reconciliation, the text says: 'Joseph wept.' Why did Joseph weep? He wept for all the needless pain the brothers had caused one another. And shall we not weep when we see the immense challenges with which humanity is faced in the 21st century -- poverty, hunger, disease, environmental catastrophe. And what is the face religion all too often shows to the world? Conflict -- between faiths, and sometimes within faiths.


And we, Jews and Christians, who have worked so hard and so effectively at reconciliation, must show the world another way.: honouring humanity as God's image, protecting the environment as God's work, respecting diversity as God's will, and keeping the covenant as God's word.
Too long we have dwelt in the valley of tears.


Let us walk together towards the mountain of the Lord,
Side-by-side,
Hand in hand,
bound by a covenant of fate that turns strangers into friends.
In an age of fear, let us be agents of hope.
Together let us be a blessing to the world.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

An Inclusive Eucharist

Hello everyone-

It seems as if I have been appointed to oversee an inclusive Eucharist for the stewards happening some time at the end of the week. I already have a few ideas for it. For the sermon, we are going to let a couple of stewards from non-Western Anglican churches to speak about their ministry in their parishes from where they are from. The prayers of the people are going to consist of all the stewards praying one to two sentences over their home parish. During the distribution of the Eucharist, the Celebrant will pass out the bread, but the cup will work through the circle (surrounding the altar in the center) as each steward serves the other on his or her left. The Celebrant will be my friend Isaac from Tanzania (well, hopefully...I haven't asked him yet). It's exciting...and something I really didn't expect to be doing for the stewards but I'm glad to be of service.

Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks (Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth) spoke last night at the plenary session. He was amazing. I am going to try to get a manuscript of his speech titled, "Exposition of the Hebrew Scriptures: the relationship between the people and God- the Covenant" and get it to all of you somehow. It was the best session I've heard since being here.

I have a day off tomorrow! I think I might attend a session called "Islam in Africa- Islam in its Variety in Sub-Saharan Africa" or "Dialogue and Danger" as well as a dinner just between stewards and bishops including a conversation from us about some of the questions or concerns that we have about the Anglican Communion. It should be fun.

My friend who is living in Paris said I could sleep on his couch for the time that I will be staying in Paris. This will be my final stop on my four-week travels across the UK and into France. Cheese and wine here I come!


Good night!

Monday, 28 July 2008

The Critical Moment

All of the bishops of Lambeth Conference 2008:

I spent yesterday attending the morning Eucharist at the Canterbury Cathedral followed by tea at Doddington Place (home of Sir Richard Oldfield, High Chief Sheriff of Kent). Another party at St. Augustine’s Abby with Councilor Carolyn Parry, the Lord Mayor of Canterbury, followed it. I also heard Rev. Canon Lucy Winkett preach at the Inclusive Church Eucharist on Saturday night (she preached at St. John's Cathedral last November (?) and she's pretty well known around Britain for her preaching).

This morning I spent time doing a bunch of odd jobs and attending a hearing in the Sports Arena. There are three hearings during the conference and it provides time for the bishops to say pretty much whatever they want. For about an hour and a half, there is an open microphone where bishops can speak for a maximum of 3 minutes each. I attended the second hearing of three today. Of course, the main topic of discussion was over the blessing of same sex marriages as well as the ordination of gay bishops and cross border interventions and inter-provincial claims of jurisdiction. Of course, this topic is rather frustrating for all of the Anglican Communion because it brings questions about the interpretation of Scripture into light as well as the tension between respecting human rights and wanting to preserve the Anglican Communion.

I believe the debate about these issues as one that also includes the ordination of women as bishops and the full inclusion of women in the decisions made by the Lambeth Conference. Perhaps I was a little optimistic about the inclusion of women in the Anglican Church.... at least until I came here. In 1998, there were 11 women bishops attending out of 11 from the WWAC. This year, there are 18 out of 24, a small improvement in 10 years.

I think what makes me frustrated the most is that we affirm women as bishops, but for the Lambeth Conference no woman has been scheduled to celebrate the daily morning Eucharist for fear that some of the bishops won't attend. It's a weird contradiction and a little different from my world in Los Angeles (specifically St. John's, not my seminary as the students still struggle with being inclusive).

It makes me wonder whether the Anglican Church is ready to tackle the present issue with consecrating openly gay people as bishops, or whether the church was thrown into it and as a consequence, has the make quick resolutions to keep the church intact...when women are still struggling to find in place in the office of the bishop. Do we need to find complete resolution with one issue before moving onto another? Or can the church exist via media, working on one but also aware that the older issue is still present and still needs attention? To what degree is the issue about gays in the church also an issue about the inclusion of women? What can we learn from Scripture in ways that Jesus preserved community while working on the fringes, acknowledging that the rejected are not partial, but whole human beings? I can think of a number of examples, starting with the healing of a rejected woman from her 12-year hemorrhage problem while Jesus was on the way to deal with Jairus, one of leaders of the synagogue and one who was not rejected. Jesus existed in both worlds.

It's riveting, but also quite confusing. I do have a profound respect for +Robinson as well as the 18 women bishops that are attending the Lambeth Conference.

So the tales of a seminarian in Lambeth continues...

More pictures below:

A Eucharist led by the stewards in Canterbury Cathedral:


We're singing along!


The stewards of Lambeth Conference 2008:


The women bishops of Lambeth Conference 2008:

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Pictures!!!

Here are some pictures like I promised. My friend shot some pictures inside Buckingham Palace (even though he wasn't supposed to...rebel!). You'll see a shot of the queen with me standing close by. Enjoy. I'm off to bed to rest for the Cathedral Eucharist tomorrow (and also loading bishops on buses).

Here is a picture of me and other stewards at this pub called the Dolphin. They have board games available to play outside. I think we were playing '90s Trivia Pursuit.



A picture of evening worship with the stewards and the monks and nuns.


Here I am looking on as the queen greets various guests at the Buckingham Palace.


A random photo at the Buckingham Palace.


My friend, Michael, who is a priest in New York and my friend Isaac, who is a priest in Tanzania. We are at the Lambeth Palace.


My friend Allie from NJ and me posing for a a picture in front of the Cathedral after the opening Sunday Eucharist.


Michael and I posing for a picture in front of the Cathedral.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Tea with the Queen

Mambo (or hello, as my friends from Tanzania say).

I woke up yesterday at 5:30am to get in my "smart" dress and head out to the bus stop to load the bishops on the buses to head to Lambeth Palace. Surprisingly, loading 660 bishops and their spouses onto the buses was quite easy. I think all of us were pretty excited about the day in London. Many of us were feeling the pressure to get away for a short period of time and away from the set routine of morning Eucharist-Bible Study-Indaba Groups-Self Select Sessions- Plenary Session.

When we arrived in a London (about a 1.5 hour car drive away from Canterbury), we all gathered at Whitehall Place in central London until the "Walk of Witness for Millennium Development Goals" started. When the walk started, we marched south down Parliament St and Abingdon St and ended up at the Lambeth Palace, where we were quickly let in with our green invitations. It was a good march, though there didn't seem to be too much press...or many people watching (I'm not sure how many people knew about it).

The time at Lambeth Palace was quite elegant. It started with an address made by the ABC and then by Prime Minister Gordon Brown who talked specifically about the immediate need to end poverty in the world. After the addresses, there was a drinks reception and a luncheon in the gardens. Entering a large white tent situated in the gardens of the Lambeth Palace, we gathered around tables to be service a beautiful lunch consisting of a lemon-glazed chicken, tomatoes stuffed with mozzarella cheese, a bean salad finished off with a chocolate torte with raspberry ice-cream. It was quite chic. We spent about a couple of hours there until we loaded on the buses once again to head to Buckingham Palace for tea with the queen.

I think this part was the most exciting for me. I've been to the Buckingham Palace in London on numerous occasions, but I was always the tourist, often glaring bright-eye behind the fence to watch the changing of the guards. This time in London, when I stepped off the bus, we happily were greeted. Rather than standing at the gates, this time I entered the front door of the Buckingham Palace to be led to the garden party on the opposite side. After being greeting by Jane Williams and the ABC, I stepped into a large field that was surrounded by long narrow tents that housed the various beverages, sweet treats and sandwiches, as well as white lounge chairs and tables covering the field outside the tent. The tea was some of the best I had ever tasted (I've tasted a lot of tea!) and a steward told me that it was only served at the Buckingham Palace. There was also an iced coffee to die for...as well as the strawberry shortcake pastries, the dark chocolate cakes, the cucumber sandwiches and the raspberry torte...oh my!

About 10 minutes before 4 pm, we started to line up for the queen's arrival. As we lined up, the Beefeaters (or more formally known as the Yeoman Warders....or as a gin) helped us line up as the Men in Waiting (tall older men wearing fancy suits with tails and top hats) came through the line, chose various people and brought them forward to be introduced to the queen. At 4pm exactly, the queen arrived from a door on the west side of the palace, was welcomed by one of the two bands underneath one of the tents and walked very elegantly towards the crowd awaiting her.

I was in the front of the line so I could see her pretty clearly and it was interesting to see her very up close, though I was not introduced to her (though she looked at me twice!!). She wore a long-sleeved dress decorated with butterflies and a tasteful hat also decorated with butterflies. When I saw her, an overwhelming sense of respect and awe came over me...whether it was because I already knew a little about her already (hey, she IS the queen of England) or whether she gave off an impression that demanded respect and acknowledgment.

She talked for a while Prince Phillip followed closely behind greeting other people. She then moved to a private party where the primates were the only guests invited. She was with them for about 30 minutes until we lined up again with the Beefeaters and she walked back to the palace with as much elegance as she came in.

Before leaving, we had about one hour to look around the gardens (since it was filled with plants from all over the world, dating back centuries). I was pretty surprised how large the garden was...especially in the heart of London.

We then loaded the buses and headed back to Canterbury.

For more info about the march please see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7523539.stm (I think I see Bishop Carranza in the very beginning). I'll try to upload more pictures soon. Good night from Lambeth!

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

My Most Favorite Day Part 2

This day was weird. I woke up just in time to make it to the Big Top by 6:45a.m. to prepare for the morning Eucharist. I was sooo tired- more tired than most days and my spirit was torn between being really appreciative about being there- and wanting to just climb in bed and sleep for another couple of hours.

After working the Eucharist and one of the Indaba Groups, I decided to take my break and walk to the heart of Canterbury from the university. Taking the stroll down hill from the university is quite nice since most of the trail is covered with a thick brush (something we don't see very often in California). The part I like most about the trail is the part when it becomes flat and it overlooks a very large green field. During my walk this afternoon it was especially quiet and a quiet breeze brushed across the tall green grass covering the field. My quiet walk abruptly ended when I entered the main street of Canterbury filled with stores and busy people trying to get to Wednesday's afternoon market. Looking around, I found some things I needed at the various shops for our next morning's visit to the queen in the Buckingham Palace as well as the Lambeth Palace. After a couple of hours, I rushed back up hill to the university to direct bishops to their self-select sessions. Amazingly, though I walked a long way, I felt energized and ready to tackle the rest of the day.

And tackle the rest of the day I did. As I mentioned earlier this afternoon, I was going to work the +Robinson event with a couple of other Stewards. When we arrived, we found out that the event was actually closed...meaning that ONLY bishops and their spouses could attend....meaning that even the stewards couldn't come in, even the ones who were working the event...nor the volunteers, the staff...NO ONE ELSE! Since I really wanted to attend the event, I started to work my steward magical powers and began to speak with Bishop Jim Curry (Bishop of Connecticut) about letting the stewards come in...and I kept implying that we wanted to come in until the start of the event (I hope I wasn't a nuisance....at the end some the bishops thanked us for our good work). As I checked identification and let people into the event, one of the bishops said that the stewards could come in! Hurray! I radioed all the stewards to tell them that they could attend the event and they happily took their seats in the first row. I sat near the door to continue to check for passes. There were a couple of times when I had to stand up to people...one was to the one of the chaplains of the queen...who had no identification! All bishops have to wear purple lanyards around their necks with an identification with their picture on it at all times. Without one, we can't let them in. Another was a person who wasn't supposed to be there and she complained until I had to ask her for a third time to leave. Eventually, she did. It's been very interesting dealing with people....especially with ones who are of a higher status than I (which makes for a majority of them). It was great to be apart of the event- especially since it was only to bishops and spouses. It was also good to make some connections- especially with some of the bishops from the States.

I would like to go into the topic matter of the event, but I am too tired. It's close to midnight and we have to wake up pretty early tomorrow to get on the buses to go to London.

One more thing, there was a report made by one of the stewards that one of the groups in the marketplace approached one of the female workers at the coffee shop in the marketplace and told her, "We can heal you of your gayness." I won't mention the group's name, but some of us stewards are taking action to make sure this discrimination doesn't happen again. The worst thing about it is that they made a judgment call on her sexuality based on her looks- not even with talking her with beforehand. I guess this is something that can be expected at the Lambeth Conference- but it still should not be tolerated. There's a couple of these groups in the marketplace.

O.k. Good night! I get to see the queen tomorrow!

Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson Speaks Tonight

Here's are +Robinson's comments about us stewards in his blog entry for today:

"Almost invariably, though, I am stopped by each of the conference stewards -- mostly college-aged young people from England and around the Communion, who want to shake my hand and tell me of their support. These young people are so interested in the Church, so committed to being here and helping in any way, yet mystified by some of the words and behaviors they witness, all in the name of the Church. They want me to know how much they are praying for me. The fellow behind the cafe counter in the Marketplace insists that I accept a cappuchino he has made for me, a free gift he insists. Many want their pictures taken with the Bishop of New Hampshire, as if it will be a reminder of something important and hopeful for them. I am awed and honored by their interest and their kindness, and am reminded that "my congregation" right now is anyone who will listen and engage. Being "on the Fringe" is a blessing indeed."

You can find his blog at www.canterburytalesfromthefringe.blogspot.com

He'll be speaking at one of the Fringe events tonight. I asked one of our supervisors if I could work the event so I can listen him to speak since it's probably going to be a packed house (the rule of thumb is that if an event is full, the stewards who are attending the event off-duty have to leave and those working the event can stay). There will be more to follow...it's going to be interesting!

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Today's Schedule

1. 6:45- 8:45 am: Morning Worship in the Big Top by the Church of the Province of Central Africa

2. 10:30 am-1 pm: Indaba Group 6 (Bishop Talton's Indaba Group)

3. 2:15-5:30pm: Bishop Self-Select Session in Giles Lane 1: "Leicester Youth Programme: 'Please listen to me...your future depends on it..."

4. 7:45-9:30pm: Plenary Session by Cardinal Ivan Dias- Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples at the Vatican- "Mission, Social Justice and Evangelization"

Some highlights: For both the bishops and their spouses, there are self-select sessions that they can choose to go each day. They range from topics about Anglican identity to the environment to multi-faith to human sexuality and the Anglican Covenant. The spouses self-select programs are different than the bishops, something that I want to go into at this moment...but let's just say that they range from a variety of options (much of them involving crafts to knitting...and o.k. I'll give them credit for opening up opportunities for day trips in England...but flower arranging? Where's the room for the male spouses??). I was helping out with the Youth Program session which focused on giving room for the youth to speak out in the conference...and guess who shows up? Archbishop Rowan!!! It was encouraging that he would take the time to spend time with the youth of the communion. There were about 20 or so youth involved and it was great to see their faces light up when the ABC showed up. By the way, he is also taking the time to be with the Steward group in a weeklong conference after Lambeth is over. It will be here at Kent and he will specifically spend time with us Stewards discussing some issues that are most important to us. Pretty neat, huh?

About the Indaba groups, they started meeting on Monday and they consist of about 20 or so bishops from various regions discussing various themes (youth, sexuality, other faiths, Christian values, etc.). Stephen Lyon, the Facilitator of the Indaba Groups, hopes that these smaller groups will enable "[t]he exploration to deepen our understanding not only of the issues themselves but also of the differing contexts in which we are seeking to co-operate together in God's mission." The bishops are from various regions since they will have their provincial meetings about 3 times throughout the conference.

The plenary sessions are in the Big Top and everyone is invited to attend these. The topics discussed set the tone for the following day since each day is centered around a particular theme, such as today is Proclaiming the Good News: the Bishop and Evangelism. Tomorrow is set to focus around Transforming Society: The Bishop and Social Justice. And guess what? I will be attending Gene Robinson's Fringe Event tomorrow.

I met the UK Director for EfM, Gary O'Neill, today in the Marketplace. He was quite excited to hear that I will be training as a mentor shortly after I come back to the States on September 1st. I received a lot of advice as to where I should travel for the four weeks allotted after the conference...so far I have Edinburgh, Iona, York, Oxford, Cambridge and Paris (since it's a quick trip from London). Any more recommendations?

Monday, 21 July 2008

I'm on BBC News!

Well, not really. BBC did a broadcast about the Cathedral Eucharist and the subsequent Integrity Eucharist. If you are patient and wait until the last shot when they pan over the crowd, you can see me at the end! Hurray!

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7515874.stm

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Words Cannot Express




Here are two things that I want to cover in this post. This post might be rather long, so feel free to skip to the part that most interests you. I'll be talking about:

1. The Sunday Morning Eucharist in the Canterbury Cathedral
2. The Integrity/Changing Attitudes Eucharist in the afternoon

This morning we had the honor of observing the Sunday Morning Eucharist held at the Canterbury Cathedral. If you don't know, the Cathedral is split into two parts: the nave and the quire. The nave and the quire are separated by a wall, which also holds a door in which one can move from nave to quire. The quire is the larger part of the church and the nave holds the Archbishop's seat as well as pews facing the center. There are tombs alongside the choire, ranging from High Church to Low Church. One important tomb surrounding the choire is the tomb of the Black Prince (Edward III). Another pivotal moment in the Cathedral was the murder of Thomas Becket (the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162-1170) by the knights of King Henry II right in the Cathedral. His tomb was later destroyed in 1538 by orders of King Henry VIII. Today, a candle stands on the place where his shrine used to be. The Archbishop's seat is also told to stand above the place where Thomas Becket's body was dragged below and left for dead in the crypt.

Enough said, we were located in the northern side of the quire (a bishop spouse told me this is was the place where once the royalties sat for services). We weren't in the heart of the quire, but we were off the side, behind the bishops who filled the center of the quire in the pews facing inward. To say the least, we were right close enough to see the Archbishop's seat as well as everything else that happened in the service (well, at least in certain parts). Unfortunately, the spouses sat in the nave and had to watch everything on a big screen from their seats. We had some pretty good seats.

Again, enough said, I really wished I had the time to write out the liturgy in my blog because I think it was one of the most important and beautiful services that I will ever attend in my life...and it marked a pivotal point in my life. For all those who are wondering, I will be returning with the bulletin. For one, the liturgy included the Melanesian monks and nuns who are praying in the prayer place every day (along with the Franciscan monks). For the procession of the Gospel, they danced and sang a hymn while carrying the Gospel in a canoe that they carried on the shoulders. They transitioned from the choire to the nave and read the Gospel in the heart of the nave. They had the bishops clapping (and some were even dancing!). The music was beautiful and it ran smoothly and almost without fault. Especially, the Bishop of Colombo (Sri Lanka) gave the sermon and he pretty much nailed it when he said that the church should be inclusive of everyone....male or female, every ethnicity....and every sexual orientation! The Intercessions included an interchange between English and other languages including French, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Korean and one language from India that I don't know the name of. The dismissal went something like this:

May the Spirit,
who hovered over the waters when the world was created,
breathe into you the life he gives.
Amen.

May the Spirit,
who overshadowed the Virgin when the eternal Son came among us,
make you joyful in the service of the Lord.
Amen.

May the Spirit,
who set the Church on fire upon the Day of Pentecost,
bring the world alive with the love of the risen Christ.
Amen.

And the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.
Amen.


Beautiful! After the Eucharist at the Cathedral, I attended a Eucharist in St. Stephen's Field in Canterbury which was held by Integrity and Changing Attitudes. Both of these groups honor the gifts of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians in the Anglican Communion. I finally got to meet Rev. Susan Russell (since she works at All Saints Pasadena which is really close to where I live) and Bishop Gene Robinson. It was a small Eucharist (maybe 100 people) in a park that overlooked the Cathedral. Surprisingly, about 25 bishops attended, helping me to see who was more progressive among them. The atmosphere surrounding the Eucharist was somewhat tense. You could almost cut it with a knife. Perhaps it was because of everything that Bishop Robinson has gone through (for goodness sake he was yelled at by a protester when he preached in a London church for the first time since being here), or maybe it was from a feeling of rejection from the Anglican Communion. No matter what it was, it was strange for me to transition from a very high, "first class" ceremony to a Eucharist that involved a keyboard and loud speakers. Despite this, I was happy to be there to support my brother and my numerous friends who are gay (including those who have to be silent while attending my seminary), as well as to support Bishop Robinson and all those who feel left out of the church because of their sexual orientation. The funny thing was that we sang one of the same songs in both services, except for the Cathedral service it was proceeded by a song which repeated, "All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place." Yes, except for Bishop Robinson....or at least those who did not have a yellow ticket to get into the service.



Tonight, I made connections with some the bishops who were at the Integrity Eucharist (one from North Carolina and another from Wyoming). I also met Bishop Philip Wright today (Bishop of Belize), who our lovely church members of St. John's Cathedral insisted that I meet (and they even sent me away with a card to give to him!).

Today was a GOOD day. Probably the best day since I've been here.

Good night.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Something I Forgot

Here’s something to add to the last post. It was the patristic reading for the evening worship service greeting the ecumenical participants:

Imagine a circle marked out on the ground. Suppose this is the world, and that the centre of the circle is God. Leading from the edge of the circle to its centre are a number of lines, and these represent the paths of ways of life that humankind can follow. In their desire to come closer to God, the saints move along these lines toward the middle of the circle so that the further they advance towards the middle of the circle the nearer they approach to both God and one another. The closer they come to God the closer they come to one another; and the closer they come to each other, the closer they come to God.

Such is the nature of love. The nearer we draw to God in love for him, the more we are united together by love for our neighbor; and the greater our union with our neighbor, the greater is our union with God.

- St. Dorotheus of Gaza (6th century)

A Bench of Bishops

Today I got to hear A.B.C.'s (Archbishop of Canterbury) final address for the 3-day retreat today in the Big Top. I spent the morning prior reflecting on the balance between trusting in God and trusting in myself especially when it comes to leadership and vocation. Surprisingly, Archbishop Rowan spent the morning discussing this particular topic and I found what he said to be quite illuminating. Referring to Hebrews 10:19-25, he mentioned that leadership is about clearing the way to go where we could not go before just as Jesus led the way by clearing the way. Rowan said, "We are not going where Jesus has gone already but we go where Jesus is clearing the way." This is where discernment is extremely important. For that moment, I felt like God was speaking to me through Archbishop Rowan- and to listen to him among 660 bishops from all around the world was quite moving.

The 11 a.m. session concluded with 10 minutes of prayer and reflection and it marked the end of the 3-day retreat. Starting Monday, the bishops will start meeting with each other more regularly and start making their recommendations. Hopefully, this means this blog will be more exciting for you!

There was also another event that I attended in the evening. It was an evening worship service welcoming the ecumenical participants. Seventy-five ecumenical guests will participate during the course of the conference. In the back of the program for the service, there are letters of official greetings from these ecumenical guests including the Archbishop of Constantinople, the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, the Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, the Archbishop of Cyprus, Archbishop of Athens and all Greece, the President of the Lutheran World Foundation, a Chairperson of the World Methodist Council, etc. At the end of the worship service, they all stood on the stage in the Big Top. It was quite overwhelming.

By the way, I am returning home with all these wonderful resources that I receive at the Lambeth Conference for anyone to look at. Right now, I am most excited about the Lambeth Hymn Book and Prayer Book (along with a card I received today from one of the children of the Canterbury Diocese).

By the way, I finally met the Bishop of South Carolina (my home state). His name is Bishop Lawrence. I really wanted to meet him since the Cathedral is located where I was born in Charleston, South Carolina. It's a beautiful city.

Off to bed. Good night.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Cross-Cultural Communication...What?

Today was a good morning. My room is in the building right next to the big blue tent (remember, the "marquee" that I talked about yesterday). As I rose early in the morning to get ready to direct the bishops in breakfast lines in Rutherford Hall (one of the two main dining places on the University of Kent's campus), I heard melodic and beautiful hymns as the bishops celebrated the Eucharist in the tent. It was a good morning indeed.

Directing bishops in breakfast lines reminds me much of my work at St. John's with the Welcome Committee. For a brief period of 30 minutes, I stand in front of the door to the dining hall, smiling and welcoming bishops into breakfast. Some bishops will pass, say hello and move on. Others, on the other hand, will extend a warm hand of welcome and introduce themselves. All smile and say hello as they wait at times some 20 minutes in a line into the dining hall.



The rest of the morning I helped the bishops to arrive at their appropriate Bible Study locations in Eliot College (about 100 meters away from Rutherford Hall). As you might know, there are separate conferences for bishops and spouses. The Bible Study was the first time in the conference where the bishops and spouses separated; the bishops heading towards Eliot College and the spouses heading in the opposite direction towards the Sports Hall, located on the opposite side of campus. As I directed the bishops and spouses, I realized that the spouses reacted differently across cultures to their separation. Some parted ways with ease, barely saying goodbye. Other spouses, such as those from Africa and India, wanted to stay close to their husbands. On one occasion, one bishop from India waited on the stairs of Eliot College and watched to make sure his wife was headed in the right direction and patiently waited until she was out of sight. Though this might be a study on gender issues between countries, I also had to remember that for many of these spouses, and perhaps bishops, it was the first time that they traveled out of their own country. Stepping into Western culture had to be quite frightening! Though I wanted to make a judgment call towards sexism, it was much easier to be sensitive to remember that many were nervous and still trying to cope with culture shock. Hey, if I was visiting a completely different culture than my own, I would be prone to attach to those whom I can identify the easiest with!

The agenda for the morning was that the bishops would leave Eliot Hall after their Bible Study (they studied John 1-18 with the theme "The one who is in the bosom of the Father") and head to the Cathedral for a day of retreat. This would be the agenda for two more days. Down in the Cathedral, the bishops would have a time of prayer and listen to addresses made by the Archbishop Rowan. Since the Cathedral had separate group of Stewards working the event, we were not required to work down at the Cathedral so we managed the loading and unloading of the buses and the events happening at the spouses’ venue.



After the bishops left their Bible Study in Eliot Hall, we prepared Eliot Hall for the spouses to arrive for their Bible Study. As the spouses arrived, I directed them to their appropriate rooms (all designated by the names of Saints). On this day, I directed spouses towards the rooms named Saint Swithin (I need to find who that is), Thomas, Timothy, Julian of Norwich, Katherine, Leo, Eusebius, Faith, etc. Unexpectedly, a group of about 25 spouses from Africa grouped around me and all insisted that they all meet together and wanted to all jam into a room that only fit at maximum 8 people. As I tried to figure out what as going on, I felt a quite anger rising up in me. Why didn't they understand me? Why weren't they clear to me with what they wanted? Why couldn't they understand that only 8 people could fit into the Bible Study rooms? Before the anger got too strong, I tried to stop myself because it wasn't that they couldn't understand. It was more about our cross-cultural communication. The cultures that we came from were so completely different that we had a hard time understanding each other's words, intentions and nonverbal communication. Quietly I said a small prayer for patience and led the wives down to the dining hall where all of them could group together and share fellowship within a larger room that could hold all of them. My way of communicating was not better in this situation. It was more about both of cultures emerging and having to make reach out and make amends to communicate in ways that both of us could understand.

Well, I could write more but I don't want to bore you. I did get to listen to Jane Williams about her new book called Marriage, Mitres and Being Myself. It sounds like an interesting book which draws upon the various experiences of the spouses of bishops. It was fun event, jammed packed with delegates and served with wine, coffee and fair-trade, organic chocolates from "Divine." Side note: coffee and sugar all over England is fair-trade and organic...even in public transportation!



I followed up my evening with evening prayer in a prayer place designated on campus. Monks and nuns from various orders are praying over the Lambeth Conference from early morning (6:30 a.m.) to late in the evening (10 p.m.). Praying through the psalms and various other prayers, it was comforting and energizing since I am helping out with the morning Eucharist at 6:45 a.m. tomorrow morning.

May God bless the bishops and the spouses at the Lambeth Conference and give them the energy to be patient and understanding to each other, though they may speak different languages, are used to different customs and may have difficulty at times being patient with each other.

Good night! I linked a Monty Python skit below just for laughs. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Arrivals


Hello everyone!

Today we spent a majority of the day checking in Bishops. There is an expected number of roughly 1200 (Bishops and their spouses) or so that will be attending the conference. Throughout the afternoon, we waited in a parking lot for buses of Bishops to arrive so that we could take their luggage, label their luggage with a circular sticker that told us which building to send it to and direct the Bishops to another building for registration. At times, there was a small trickle of Bishops and at other times, loads of Bishops would arrive at one time, traveling from all over the world.

I also spent some time looking for Bishop Zawo's (Bishop of Sudan) luggage since he seemed to end up staying in a different building than where his luggage was. Luckily, I have been appointed the team leader for one of the Stewards groups so I had a walkie-talkie on hand to dialogue with other various Steward groups around the campus to locate the luggage. After walking from various buildings across the University of Kent to locate the luggage, it was finally found and delivered to the Bishop. Mission complete! Not quite...

My last shift for the evening was at this rather large blue tent (or marquee as the British would call it) that was planted right in the middle of this parking lot at the University of Kent just for the purpose of holding various large meetings that included all the Bishops. Hurrying down, I finally made my spot and started to hand out translation headsets to all the Bishops (since the Lambeth program is being translated in some 7 languages this year). As I handed out the handsets, to what my surprise, there was Bishop Bruno! It was good to see him and meet Mary Bruno who was also attending the conference. I also ran into Bishop Carranza after the service in the "Big Top" (the witty name that the Lambeth Conference Designing Committee gave the large blue tent). It was good to see these familiar faces. I also got to participate in the opening service in the Big Top, which consisted of a speech made by Archbishop Rowan who gracefully and eloquently spoke about the importance of the Anglican Communion. He was followed by a series of informational sessions led by Sue Parks, the Conference Manager for the Lambeth Conference and the Rt. Revd. Dr. Winston Halapua who is the Conference Chaplain and the Bishop for the Diocese of Polynesia in Aotearoa New Zealand. Archbishop Rowan was preceded by a speech made by Canon Kenneth Kearon, the Secretary General for the Lambeth Conference. It was a good day overall. The service opened and closed with various hymns.

Tomorrow the Bishops will go on retreat at the Cathedral, but before that the Bishops will attend their assigned Bible Study groups on the University of Kent's campus, which will meet together each day of the conference in the morning. The focus of each Bible study is the "I am" sayings of the Gospel of John. The Bishops will then head to the Cathedral and the Stewards will help out with the separate Spouses Conference that is happening on Kent's campus in the Sports Arena. The spouses have a seperate conference on campus and it is similar to the layout of the Bishops' Conference. Later in the week there are also events in the evening called "Fringe Events," which consist of evening programs on campus. Overall, the topic matter for these Fringe Events (about 56 events over 20 days of the conference) center around LGBT issues, ranging from groups such as Integrity to Redeemed Lives. Gene Robinson will be speaking at two of these events, one on the 23rd and the second on the 30th. I am hoping to go to one of these. In addition, these events focus also on womens concerns with target groups such as IAWN. As a Steward, I have access to any event, which makes it easy to pick and choose what I want to see, as long as I am not scheduled to work.

It's been quite exciting! I already met Archbishop Rowan quite randomly as I headed out of one the college to work. He was walking up with his wife, Jane Williams. As I passed I said, "Hello Archbishop!" Surprisingly, he stuck out his hand, said hello and I introduced myself and said that I was from Los Angeles, California and then I met his wife. She asked quite nicely, "Are you getting to know the campus?" and I responded with, "We're trying!" Honestly, the campus is rather large and in between cramming the sessions about First Aid, Boundaries and Security, it's been hard to know the campus really well!

Along with Archbishop Rowan and Jane Williams, I have met Bishop Mathes, Bishop of San Diego, Bishop Councell, Bishop of New Jersey and his wife Ruth, Bishop Barry Clark, Bishop of Montreal and Bishop Victoria Matthews, Bishop of New Zealand.

I think one thing I am learning the most is how large our communion is. St. John's Cathedral within the context of the LA Diocese is part of a church that is worldwide, including many ethnicities and languages. We are a very diverse group and for me, that is very reassuring - because I know I have brothers and sisters all over the world. More importantly, it has been reassuring to see different cultures shape the Anglican tradition within the context of their own culture, shaping it with their own music and their own forms of expression. We are a very diverse group!

All right, it's time for me to get to bed. Tomorrow morning I have to direct the Bishops in the breakfast hall. I'll keep you updated! Over and out!

Thursday, 10 July 2008

I arrived safely!

Hello everyone!

I've made it safely to Canterbury after traveling on plane, on two subways trains, on an over ground train and a taxi. It was a long trip! The Bishops do not officially get here until next Tuesday, July 15th, but since I am serving as a Steward, I am actively getting the campus ready with other Stewards before the Bishops arrival from all over the world. So far I've met other Anglicans who are serving as Stewards from India, Britain, East and South Africa, USA, Brazil, Japan, Burma and Taiwan.

As for work, we've been taking seminars on intercultural communication, conflict resolution and survey courses over the programme for the Lambeth Conference. We've also made a special trip into Canterbury to visit the Cathedral. An exciting thing is that we will be meeting the Queen at the Buckingham Palace on July 24th!

It's been quite exciting to be back here in Britain since the last time I was here was in 2001. Despite getting over the jet lag (it's an eight hour difference) and getting used to the constant tea and coffee breaks in between training sessions, my experience in Canterbury has been quite energizing. I am already learning so much about the Anglican Communion by talking with the other stewards who are around my age. It has also been exciting to start building friendships with Anglicans across the world. It has also been quite humbling to learn about how much I do not know and how much I have to learn. The 1-month in Canterbury is quite promising!

Well, I should write again soon but my goal is to consistently write when the Lambeth Conference actually begins on July 16th. I hope to update you with what is going on during the conference that you might stay connected first with the Anglican Communion and than with me, as I spend my first two months away from everyone at St. John's.

Thank you so much for your prayer and support! I miss everyone and I am praying for you!