Now that the Conference proper has got under way you have to be careful where you walk! No stone has been left unturned by journalists looking for conflict.
At the opening session yesterday afternoon the serious questions facing the Anglican Communion were laid out before us. The presenting issue is of course about human sexuality, but the underlying and real issues are about authority, identity and power – issues which lurk around every family and which, I think, are part and parcel of the ebb and flow of family relationships.
The most encouraging thing which came through to me yesterday was that, whilst there are clear disagreements here, there is no thirst for conflict – in fact quite the reverse. This is bad news for journalists looking for copy. The standing ovation as Archbishop Rowan started his Presidential Address was a clear affirmation of his standing within a family which wants to stay together.
We had the process for listening and engaging with each other over the coming two weeks explained to us. It appears to be a far more robust process than it first appeared. It is clear that the disagreements are going to be addressed, but is such a way that enables us all to be involved, rather than through large plenary sessions which of their nature exclude opinion and contribution by the majority.
The opening Eucharist in Canterbury Cathedral was Anglican worship at its best – dignified, vibrant, engaging and prayerful. The interweaving of traditional and modern was seamless, as was the interplay of languages. It really did feel offered to the glory of God – and that’s what worship should be all about.
There’s a long way to go in this conference, but I ended the first day encouraged that we are a Communion which is worth working hard to retain. At the heart of this worldwide family is a real desire to be faithful to our vocation and to our part in God’s mission, being here does give you that bigger picture of what that means to the diversity of people which make up this Communion. I just hope that the journalistic thirst for sensational copy will not distort that picture.