Matt Kennedy at Stand Firm:
Thursday, July 31, 2008 • 8:12 am
Archbishop Ian Ernest (chairman of CAPA)
Bishop Colin Johnson of Toronto
The Rev. Jackie Crey from the spouses conference
++Aspinall: I want to make an observation about my own indaba. We have not suddenly reached a consensus but there is significant difference between 1998 and 2008 and that has to do with the kind of engagement we’re having. Ten years ago people were distressed at some of the reactions to some of what was said. There were occasions when bishops booed and hissed.
2008 has been dramatically different. The same degree of differing opinions was evident in the views held, but in my indaba group bishops who were on opposite ends of the spectrum and thanked each other for helping one another to understand their contexts. That is a significant step forward.
++Ian Ernest: We have been given a process by the Archbishop that enables us each to have a voice. At the opening session I did my speaking in French, and invited all the bishops to be a part to the process that the ABC has been inviting us to participate in. I have to say that we have been able to form friendships from each end of the spectrum and to do it. It is has been challenging and exciting. We have been able to express our views openly and honestly and listen carefully and attentively to bishops in other contexts. I remember having spoken passionately about my convictions and then another bishop stood up and told about his convictions passionately and then we held hands and said that we have to take this journey together
The conversation cannot stop. It must continue
But we have also widened the scope of debate. We are talking about polygamy and sexual abuse and promiscuity, the whole scope of human sexuality has to be integrated. We must be able to act in generosity toward one another. I remember that in my own indaba group a bishop was rejected in his group 10 years ago but today we are able to live with one another and to shed tears together knowing that we have different ways and different understandings, but the AC allows us to take out from under the table an issue and engage in it. Even with my own African colleagues we are listening to each other. I hope this Lambeth Conference will give us opportunities for being a group together and loving one another for the love of God given on the cross.
+Colin: We have had the opportunity to discuss these issues for 2 days because we, having ownership, changed some things. A number of images I want to give you.
indaba is about conversation. To have a conversation means turning toward one another. It is related to the word conversion, but you can only have conversation when you face one another. It is not about converting one person to another’s views, but we have been changed and changed one another a lot the process. The third party in the conversation is the Holy Spirit, and in listening to one another and the Holy Spirit we can have an encounter and be transformed. No one encounters the living God without being transformed
We spoke in small groups and in the whole group. The conversation was characterized by respect, generosity and trust. We felt in my indaba conversations so far that we were engaged in common mission despite our differences.
The common mission is more important than what separates us. The common mission is the MDG’s.
Two examples: The first one is from the aboriginal context, where the aborigines stir up the dust with sticks and then go into the house together: that characterizes our indaba group
The second image is the household. The image that was presented was that the household is more than just the bedroom. And outside the house you have land that is flooded or land that is not producing. Our vision must be broader we must ask how do we live faithful lives together.
We were asked to consider the question: What do I need as a bishop from you, my fellow bishops. We spoke very personally about that and the conversation will continue because we have four more indabas and we are all coming to each.
Q: Have any bishops changed their minds as a result of the discussion?
++Aspinal: I am not aware of bishops who have changed they’re minds, I am aware of bishops who have been thankful for the experience.
+Colin: I think probably some have nuanced their positions but we did not take about anyone changing their views.
++Ernest: I do not think anyone has changed their minds. But we will be a bridge between those who are not here and this conference.
+Colin: The conservative voice is not absent here. There are conservative voices and liberal voices and moderate voices. The full spectrum is recognized
Q: There are criticism that that you are sidestepping the issue?
++Aspinall: The ABC has made his position clear that he did not believe any useful purpose would be served by revisiting Lambeth 1.10 but the process that was used last time did not help the church move forward so a different process is used to day. The process outcome so far this morning is illustrative of how this is working. From where I sit there disagreements to be seen but there are good signs at this state that we are going to work through this process and come out with a good result.
++Ernest: We are using this process so that we can express ourselves to one another and build our relationships.
+Colin: The conversation continues. We are continuing to engage indaba. When the people who came with anxiety about indaba are now saying we are “into indaba” it means the process is working.
Q: ++Ernest you said you engaged with your African colleagues and brothers and are a bridge for their concerns. Are you speaking to them as you are here?
++Ernest: I have not engaged myself with them yet while here. For the time being I am in conversation here/
Q: Both of you sound hopeful about this process, what words of hope do you have for LGBT Anglicans who are watching this conference? It looks like their lives are being used as bargaining chips?
+Colin: I would not say that. In the initial conversions we were talking about how all the bishops contexts were impacted by this issue and people were speaking out of their own experience and clearly people are in communities where there is great openness about these issues, and they are bringing that into he conversation.
Ernest: and we also take into consideration what Lambeth 1.10 tells us about listening to those who are lesbian and gay.
Q: Is there an expectation that the word of the bishop will influence the Windsor process and whether that will make an impact on the Covenant?
A: Some of that ground has been chewed over and there is a self select session, a special one, planned for this afternoon, to get these ideas on the table so they can make into the Reflection.
Q: The process sees well designed to include all the voices here. When will the LGBT voice be heard?
++Ernest: we are representatives of our provinces and dioceses so we speak for our people.
+Colin: I come from a diverse diocese and I have many LGBT people in my context. So I am not speaking only for myself or one bodyu but for a range of people in my own diocese. We have a large LGBT population and so I am speaking that experience into the sessions and I am also representing other voices. We have a large very conservative group in my diocese as well. I am trying to hold paradoxes in tension.
Q: If at a meeting you do not have present someone who speaks for the conservative camp, does that represent in some way how little progress has been made here?
+Aspinall: I reject your premise. Archbishop Ernest is clearly in the conservative camp
Q: ++Ernest: what has the GAFCON movement done to the unity of CAPA?
A: I have invited my brother primates to attend an meeting of CAPA in September. Both GAFCON and Lambeth are on the agenda.
Q: After the ABC’s address, many felt as though a diminution of the place of TEC might be a result, but now that it seems as though relationships have been formed and the indaba process is working, is this possibly avoidable?
A: +Colin: within our indaba group we have not reached consensus there are voices who would favor that and others who would oppose it. Both were expressed forcefully
Ruth: +Ernest: AB Orombi has written a piece that will appear in the Times tomorrow accusing the ABC of betraying the communion and speaking of colonialism. In light of these comments could you explain more about this bridge you discussed earlier?
A; as you know some of my brothers are not here but we are the bridge to bring their voices here. We have attended at the invitation of the ABC to engage ourselves with the covenant process. I am someone whose life is based on the bible and biblical principles and I will defend them with love and respect.
Andrew Carey: we are hearing a lot about process. It is all very nice hearing about how you are getting along but it looks like navel gazing from the outside.
++Aspinall It does not feel like navel gazing from the inside. There is a lot of growing together going on. Bishops are moving closer. We may not have reached one mind or consensus but growth is coming and that is significant.
+Colin: consensus has gathered around the environment, MDG’s, womens issues and many of the bishops think that the media attention around sexuality has disallowed the kind of conversation that should go on around these more important issues.