Lambeth Day 4

In the last session of the retreat, Archbishop Rowan picks up from the theme he left us with yesterday about bishops being in communion and prompts the question “What is Christian leadership like”?

The simple answer he offers us is that Christian leadership is not about commands or making decisions, but about following the example of Jesus in “clearing the way and going before”.  The quality of such leadership depends on the ability to discern the way which lies ahead.  So he picks up on Alan Ecclestone’s paper to the 1978 Lambeth Conference which suggests that a bishop’s leadership has to be both insight and oversight.

We need courage to be set free for some institutional risk-taking and be prepared to ask whether what is being suggested or promoted  is part of the new way of God.  When we fail in leadership it is because we have been too much about command and not about being part of the new living way.

In conclusion he asserted that it is essential for us to know that their is a new way – to know what God has done, is doing, will do.  The Archbishop then asked us to keep silence together and let that soak through us.

It was a very profound silence – 650 bishop at one in silence.  Thus ended our days of retreat during which we had experienced some very profound and accessible teaching from the Archbishop in his role as a focus for unity in the Anglican Communion.

There are many critics of the Archbishop, but, as I hear them, they want to judge him by measures of leadership which are wholly inappropriate for the leader of a worldwide communion of Christians.  In the meditations which he offered us over this time of retreat, Rowan has given us a different tool for discerning and exercising leadership.  The impact on those who have come from around the globe appears to be profound. When we come to discuss the difficult issues which lie before us,  I hope that our engagement will be enriched by a very different understanding of the quality of leadership lying at the heart of the Anglican Communion – a quality vastly at variance to the distorted caricature that has been promoted by the media and by those who use negative criticism to promote their own agenda.

The Conference itself opens tomorrow afternoon.  We have now been joined by Ecumenical guests, bishops in communion with Anglicans, a variety of lobbyists and an abundance of rabbits and ducks!

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