Megaphone diplomacy broke out here today and it effectively brought the Bishops of the Anglican Communion to a common place and to facing the same way. The conference photos of the staff, the spouses and then the bishops were remarkable pieces of organisation – akin to herding cats. But the organisers were adept in getting us all into place and before you could say “Indaba” the moment was recorded for posterity.
In my bible study we engaged in a vigorous discussion of sin, sickness, healing and the human condition. Almost inevitably this developed into an engagement about the nature of homosexuality and a sharing of our attitude to this issue. Even though we have been together for over a week we encountered some surprising insights being offered by members of the group. This will all undoubtedly be continued during our times together next week. There are levels to the whole debate – human, theological, mission, church order, cultural and social – simple responses or understanding will not help in the long term.
The Indaba later in the morning was far less driven by process and, whilst we agreed to keep with the theme, we broke down into our Bible study groups to address issues around our ministry in the face of environmental concerns and global warming. We heard penetrating accounts of the changes being already experienced in parts of Africa and of the environmental damaged impacting on people’s lives.
We recognised how small projects such a planting trees, recycling and changes in our lifestyles are important – but ultimately it needs fundamental changes in the way in which economies work and in what we understand by ‘economic growth’. My take is that this is a fundamental gospel issue and cannot be sidelined as a secondary concern for enthusiasts – the Good News has to be for all creation – which from the outset has resonated with the phrase from Genesis – “and it was good”.
Thank you to all who have been saying that they want to be a positive 1/650th about how good this conference is and how much they are valuing their time here. Next week we start to look at how we take the Communion forward and how we deal with diversity and disagreement – I suspect that those who have found listening and talking not to their liking, will be far more comfortable with such processes.