Bishops' letters home from Lambeth

 Aug. 1, Bishop Cederholm writes from Lambeth:

“In 24 hours I shall be on a plane heading home.  These are my reflections at the moment, but I know I will have many more in the days and weeks to come as my heart, mind, and spirit, with the help of the Holy Spirit, deepen this experience for me, offering further insights than I now have. I write this a day before the conference ends and there may be more to say to you from us after we are home.

"I would like to put my reflections in the format of highlights, "lowlights" and what I will miss.

“What I will miss:

  • The extraordinary heavenly view at night from the hilltop at Kent University of Canterbury Cathedral all aglow
  •  Walking on stones in the cathedral worn with low spots from the feet of Christians over hundreds of centuries.
  • Worship and song in many cultural expressions as a people of "Common Prayer" (I picked up a few for guitar)
  • The faces, hands and hearts of fellow bishops who touched my heart in Bible studies and Indaba groups.
  • My new friends in Christ in the Communion
  • Stories of faith and suffering from around the globe that bring us together in a Covenant of Fate and Faith
  • The opportunities to share the stories of our diocese - stories reflecting the lives, joys, sorrows and faith of Episcopalians at home and stories of how congregations in our diocese, in seeking to follow Christ, have joined God in God's mission at home and  away
  • Stories of the faithful discipleship of gay and lesbian Episcopalians that bless God's Church and God's people.
  • The humor of Bishop Michael Curry
  • Manny being Manny


  • The opening days of Retreat; I am still inwardly digesting Archbishop Rowan's food for the soul and mind and how it might apply to my own spiritual journey and vocation
  • Phone calls to Ruth Ann
  • The MDG Walk: an opportunity to say this is the Anglican Communion at its best
  • Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sack's passionate talk on Covenant and challenge to us as people of faith to remain united
  • Gene Robinson's receptions and his witness to faith in Christ and love for God's Church and the Anglican Communion. Bishops and spouses asked hard questions of him and many came to know him and express their love for him.
  • Voices of women bishops
  • Little Italy Restaurant in Canterbury
  • My own continuing transformation and learning as a bishop/servant leader in God's Church with deeper affection and appreciation for the needs of others throughout the world
  • My understanding that some of the conflict is not always about theology, but in the way we learn, process information, our personality and spirituality types, etc.
  • Workshops on Emerging Church models, evangelism, environment, and interfaith relationships that have inspired and given me a greater vision for ministry in the diocese
  • God's gift of presence to help me remain non-anxious and hopeful when some around me were anxious and doubtful of this Conference when they sought results more than relationships
  • The plenary with spouses and deep conversations about violence and abuse of women in all parts of the world, leading many to agree to make this a priority in their church
  • The wonderful words of encouragement and prayers I received from you via e-mail. Never underestimate the power of taking time to say a kind word or prayer for the people you love.  (and don't love so much, I might add)
  • The fact that many heard from the Episcopal Church (TEC) about  the hurt and harm caused by incursions and boundary violations by foreign bishops and the fact that some bishops, angry with TEC, finally heard of the sacrifices we made (sometimes at the expense of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters) such as the moratorium on consent to the election of an openly gay Bishop and the apology issued by Convention of the pain caused by our actions (not the actions themselves, but the pain caused in the Communion). Some African bishops were not aware that TEC took those actions.
  • The Inclusive Church liturgy in an open field celebrated with Gene Robinson after the Opening Eucharist at Canterbury -- a powerful witness by many of the bishops here and the Inclusive Church and Integrity communities in Britain to an inclusive church welcoming to all.
  • The discussion about how a Rule of Life may be a key to the way we covenant together (though it has not yet received much support) and how a Rule of life may be something people of a diocese may have with one another. I wonder what you think that might look like?
  • The draft Covenant containing a strong mission focus (see lowlight below)


  • Far too few women bishop voices at Lambeth.
  • Gene Robinson's absence as a bishop in the Anglican Communion
  • My perception that some strongly believe that faithful, monogamous sexual relationships and commitment between people of the same gender is sinful and can not understand that blessings strengthen family life in Christ
  • Hearing that in parts of the Global South the Anglican Church is known as the gay church and how harmful that is to the church in their context.
  • Struggling with how to communicate to them all that we are, seeking to be in Christ Jesus, affirming the rights and protection of GLBT persons, while serving Christ in all persons and striving for peace and justice for all
  • The desire by many to include in the Covenant a process that deals with churches whose actions harm the Communion with the possibility of punitive consequences.  I suggested we create a Commission of Reconciliation (an idea from someone in the Church of Canada) as a more theologically appropriate process to  mediate conflict. We shall see what the draft covenant looks like by January.
  • The fact that the wider world views the Anglican Church as consumed with itself and its internal matters rather than being the "only institution in the world that exists for non-members" (former Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple)
  • Expectation on the part of some that the Episcopal Church should agree to certain moratoria (blessings and ordination of gay bishops) that would cause GLBT persons alone to bear the sacrifice for the sake of the Communion ( though I doubt incursions would stop even with such moratoria)

“I will be back in the office the week of Aug. 11 (taking some time off for family and rest - listening is hard work!). God bless each and everyone of you, your communities and families. You are in my heart and prayers always.”

July 30, Bishop Harris writes from Lambeth:

“Yesterday the bishops sat with the spouses in a morning-long joint session examining our theology and scriptural witness concerning violence, especially to women.  A professional troupe of actors retold the stories of the emotional, psychological and spiritual scars associated with the oppression, abuse and violence to women found in Scripture.  It was powerful.  We sat on opposite sides of the space, men on one side and women on the other, regardless of order of ministry.  It was powerful, for women could open up to women, and men to men.  One Australian woman told my group of women from the Solomon Islands, Canada and the USA of the horror of her daughter’s rape and the aftermath of post-traumatic stress.  

“The dramatic presentation began with acknowledging that women are not only in subservient positions due to the world’s cultural norms, but that too many times and in too many places they are invisible and mute.  To demonstrate that women are often ignored by the church, the Bible study leader asked those who had ever heard the story of the rape of King David’s daughter, Tamar, read aloud in worship on a Sunday morning to stand up.  In the gathering of 1,500 people, comprising bishops, clergy and lay scholars, nuns and monks, only one person stood.  The silence of women’s stories does violence to Scripture and to the dignity of over half the human race.

“We spent the entire morning yesterday lifting up the pain and the strength of women, of our call, ministry and service.  We all heard the stories.  But, today, with the preoccupation over our divisions and differences concerning authority and interpretation of Scripture, again there was a deafening silence in my Bible study group and my indaba.  Nothing was noted about what we shared the previous morning.  It is as if yesterday is unrelated to today.  The deafening silence is not just about women.

“After the experience with my groups, it seemed that we had heard the stories of women yesterday, but many of us did not listen.  We did not listen with heart and mind.  We did not incorporate them into our being, into our spiritual presence.  And that became apparent in my groups as we discussed John 11:1-44 when Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.’ 

“Our focus for both the Bible study and in the indaba was to share how we approach Scripture so that we might find common ground about an Anglican understanding of the interpretation of Scripture.  In both groups I thought we were talking past each other, just hearing and not listening.  At first.

“In the indaba group each person shared one passage that was fundamental to him or her, and then explained how this Scripture formed us and how we formed our approach to faith.  Two bishops from the global south who are in my small group chose passages and agreed that Scripture was the normative for human life in all its aspects.  And the remaining bishop and I coincidentally chose the same passage, Isaiah 61:1-4, which is repeated in Jesus first sermon found in Luke 4:18-21.

“As we discussed our approach, talking about the ‘living Word of the Living God’s continual revelation,’ we, at first, thought we were disagreeing.  The bishops from the global south, I thought, wanted to reduce Scripture into a list of narrow rules, of judgment.  They, at first, thought I and our other colleague were playing loose and free with “the Spirit of God” and proclaiming liberty to the captives of our time. 

“But the more we talked with, rather than at, each other, in defending our approaches, the more all of us could say that the cultural context of Scripture must speak to our cultures today and help us transform society, and that that means Scripture is normative and a continual revelation of God.  Our differences, we discovered, were the extent of that transformation God desires.  Discerning that extent was, again, culturally grounded. 

“We had stopped hearing each other and began listening.  We stopped throwing the word ‘culture’ as an indictment against each other.  We claimed it in its fullest meaning and effect on faith, together.”

July 29, Bishop Cederholm writes from Lambeth:

“I don’t agree with Alex Beam who wrote in his Boston Globe column on Saturday that this is a conference of ‘nothingness.’  The world may see it that way, but then again, St. Paul said ‘be not conformed to this world.’  We are doing what bishops are supposed to do, not just provide oversight but also offer insight, as Archbishop Rowan Williams has reminded us.  To do that requires listening, prayer, study and discernment.  We are doing that, and it is hard work and tiring.  I applaud the American church, which has made every effort to listen to the needs and concerns of others while compassionately, not arrogantly, sharing ours.

“Last night the most profound talk (really a sermon) was given by a prominent Jewish rabbi in England and friend of Archbishop Williams.  Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, author of several books and one highly recommended to me, The Dignity of Difference, spoke to us passionately about the meaning of covenant.  Here are some pearls:

“A covenant based on love and not power or law, but love of and from God and for others, is needed in a culture that is diverse and where there are differences and divisions.  Covenants that unite are about relationships and not simply contracts based on self interest.

“He quoted a mid-20th-century rabbi who talked about two kinds of covenants seen in the Hebrew Scriptures:  a covenant of fate and a covenant of faith.  A covenant of fate is where people experience the love and presence of God in suffering.  The covenant with Noah was such a covenant.  The Hebrew Scriptures describe the flood as destroying most of Creation, but the people of God (Noah, family and creatures of the earth) were bound together through suffering and loss and discovered God’s presence.  God’s promise and covenant for new life was for all Creation.

“God’s covenant with Abraham was a covenant of faith.  Abraham trusted and surrendered to God’s will and call and was blessed with a child and a new land for God’s people (Jews, Muslims and Christians are people of the Abrahamic covenant of faith, though we are diverse and different in how we understand and interpret that faith). When the Israelites were in slavery and were set free to go into the wilderness, they had a covenant of fate with God and each other in their shared suffering and knowledge that God was with them. When God gave the Law to Moses it became a covenant of faith.

“I report this because when we talk about a covenant in the Anglican Communion, we can learn from Rabbi Sacks.  The world is fragmenting and in serious conflict.  Difference and diversity are not valued and people suffer from poverty, disease, violence, war and abuse.  When people of different faiths fight there can be no peace.  When Anglicans of the same faith can not appreciate the gift of diversity there can be no peace within the communion.  However, Rabbi Sacks reminded us that the purpose of any covenant is to build relationships on love, forgiveness and trust.

“If we can’t iron out our differences in theological and scriptural interpretations, perhaps we need to understand we have a covenant of fate and not just faith.  The covenant of fate calls us to join in the suffering of others all over the Anglican Communion and world.  God is found in the suffering of others.  Christians say Jesus is found in suffering.  What would the Anglican Communion look like if we lived into a covenant of fate (not that God brings suffering or predetermines the suffering of some), suffering, sacrificing and serving others, bringing hope and love to others?  Might this be the covenant and the mission we have with Anglicans while we work on what our covenant of faith with God in Christ Jesus means in the issues that divide us?

“I have joined the conversations on the environment here.  The urgency we hear from our Anglican partners around the world who are suffering from global warming is dire.  The UK releases 9.5 tons of carbon per person per year—imagine what the average U.S. citizen releases—while the average Ethiopian releases .06 tons.  The  developed world’s release of vast amounts of carbon dioxide affecting all areas of the globe is sinful and unjust.  The Anglican Communion needs to act with urgency, including building  partnerships to save God’s Creation for our grandchildren.

“Finally we talked about the need for much more interfaith dialogue and relations with Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and others across the Anglican Communion.  We were reminded that “there can be no peace among nations without peace between religions.”

July 28, Bishop Shaw writes from Lambeth:

“This past weekend I celebrated at a worship service at St. Mary’s in Welwyn, Hertfordshire, where one of my brothers, Geoffrey Tristram, was rector before he entered the monastery.  Geoffrey preached at this wonderful service in a packed church.  Following the service we were asked many thoughtful questions about the Lambeth Conference.  One woman asked if Lambeth is just about talking.  I replied that these deep conversations are necessary for unity, and that while it might seem that the conference is only about talking about the Bible and the Anglican Communion, it is the lengthy exchange between bishops that will help bring about unity.  At times it seems tiresome to us, and I’m sure to those observing, but eventually, I believe, we’ll come to understand each other.

“Today we attended the second hearing of the Windsor Continuation Group which was open to all bishops wishing to respond to this group’s draft of observations.  It became apparent that the hearing was not taking us in the direction of unity but was instead a calling out of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada by some.  While I don’t think this was the intention for the hearing, it veered in this direction, and because it did, I didn’t feel we were being faithful to the process the archbishop has laid out since the beginning of the conference through our indabas—the lengthy and purposeful discussions between small groups of bishops.  No decision will be made on the continuation group’s report until next May by the archbishop and the Anglican Consultative Council.

“Please continue to pray for us in this the final week of the Lambeth Conference, as many issues remain unresolved and many more discussions need to happen if our relationships are to strengthened.”

July 25, Bishop Harris writes from Lambeth:

Today, July 25 is listed in our schedule as ‘Ordinary Day 4 – Serving Together:  The Bishop and Other Churches.’  Certainly nothing is ordinary about Lambeth conferences. Every day is an extraordinary day in the mission of God.

“Our Bible study groups reflected on John 8:31-39 this morning, where Jesus said, ‘Very truly I tell you, before Abraham was, I was.’  This verse in my group discussion was seen as one of the most challenging statements to early Christians and seekers—a theological climax.  Here, Jesus is claiming in John’s account to be co-eternal with the Creator, to be God in human form.  For those who heard him and yet did not believe he was the messiah, this claim is not only controversial, it is unacceptable.  To these fellow Jews, according to John, Jesus speaks in unconditional, hostile and condemning words:  ‘You are from your father the devil.’  Very harsh words, we agreed.  But we also looked deeper.

“In my Bible study group are bishops from England, Africa and New Zealand, as well as one other American.  In addition a Roman Catholic bishop from central Africa is in our group.  We each gave examples of terms used in our cultures/race/families that are not acceptable for use by others.  So, my group wondered, is this statement, of one Jew, Jesus, to his Jewish brethren, such an example?  Is it an exaggerated warning to those who smugly find themselves pure and justified by race, religion, position or adherence to a particular tradition?   Is Jesus in this case (and when he calls some a ‘brood of vipers’) using inside terms, ‘family talk’ that he would not use with Gentiles?   Saying ‘your father the devil’ to shock and make a point in order to get their attention?  Is this similar to Jesus saying to Peter, ‘Get behind me Satan’?  Or are we to take it that Jesus means this literally, in order to cut them off from the possibility of salvation?

“When we minister or meet with the others who worship the same God of Abraham, Jews and Muslims, do we think or behave in ways that are exaggerated and condemning?  In many cases the answer is yes.  And certainly Christian denominations have been shouting hyperbole across the universal church at each other and within their congregations.  Denominations or sects have been doing this since Mary Magdalene and others announced the news of the resurrection on Easter morning; as the Gospels tell us, they were dismissed as hysterical women.

“There has been much insulting and condemning rhetoric within the Episcopal Church and in the Anglican Communion.  Too much of it does not come from a place of commitment and trust in our relationship with each other in Christ.  There are so many distortions and much misinformation that purposely are used to divide us.  And all this distracts us from the unity of God’s mission for and with us.  The fixation on condemnation of the Episcopal Church by some is undermining our credibility as the church.  Or is it?

“Each day I have talked with several bishops from the global south who say that the mean-spirited words and tactics that some bring have caused in them a new desire to hear the whole story, to see what our General Convention and House of Bishops have actually said and done since 2003, especially in response to the Windsor Report.  Most are surprised and then glad to hear how we take seriously the divisions within the Anglican Communion.  Many have said that some conservatives of our church have led them to believe we have arrogantly turned away from our Anglican fellowship and have attacked those who disagree with Bishop Robinson’s consecration, or women’s ordination or a host of other issues.  And some from the global south have admitted to me that part of the angst comes from equating our church with the Bush Administration’s foreign policy.  They have largely said:  We disagree with you in the Episcopal Church, but let’s get on with the life and death issues…let’s commit to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals…that IS the work of the Gospel and the work for our unity.

“In these ‘ordinary’ days the extraordinary happens.  Because God is with each of us, I have hope.”

July 24, Bishop Cederholm writes from Lambeth:

“’What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God?’ (Micah 6:8)  Today, more than 1,200 bishops, dressed in purple cassocks, and spouses in some awesome hats (the female spouses, that is!) walked in downtown London to Lambeth Palace singing ‘We are marching in the Light of God’ as a sign of solidarity with the efforts of governments, NGOs and faith communities, especially the Anglican Communion, to ‘Keep the Promise’ made by the UN to halve world poverty by 2015.  On some of the specific Millennium Development Goals besides poverty there has been little, if any, progress in the past few years.  A rally following the march featured Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s  appreciation for the Anglican Communion’s efforts and commitment to the goals and his plea to advocate the goals with our governments, joining him and world leaders at the UN on Sept. 25 in sending the message that they must keep the promises they have made to the world’s poor, women and children.  For me the march was the most significant moment thus far in the conference, where I felt, as a communion, we were truly ‘marching in the Light of God.’

“Lambeth is indeed a significant gathering of bishops from all over the Anglican Communion.  The media’s coverage, however, would lead many to believe that the Anglican church is primarily about bishops (the word ‘episcopal’ of course reinforces that).  The world sees what we do and say these weeks as what the Anglican Communion says and does.  We all know this is not true.  The Anglican Communion of 77 million is mostly faithful laypersons who humbly serve Christ and the Christ in others.  It is also tens of thousands of priests and deacons who have given their lives to Jesus, God’s church and God’s kingdom of peace and justice.  We active bishops number less than 1,000.  Who, then, is the Anglican Communion?  Once every 10 years it seems to many to be the bishops, but we all know better!

“The climax of the day was our gathering of bishops and spouses to meet and hear from Bishop Robinson.  We had a lovely gathering with refreshments in a cloister.  We showed a video from the Diocese of New Hampshire on why its members elected Gene and why he is a bishop they love and respect (including the voice of an African priest in that diocese whose theological understandings differ from Gene’s).

“After Gene’s talk we shed tears of joy when persons who had never met or heard Gene, from Hispanic, Asian, Indian and African churches, remark how deeply moved they were by his truth speaking and compassion.  One African bishop, whose primate had forbidden his bishops to come to Lambeth, said that he respected Gene’s presence and courage to be here when he was not invited, while 200 other bishops who had been invited chose not to come.  My thought on his comment was:  Who, then, loves the Anglican Communion more?

“I am grateful for your prayers.  I can’t tell you how much they mean to us.  As I said at my own election, I am humbled that you have ‘let me to be your servant.’  The Lambeth Conference is a clear reminder of how blessed I am by each and every one in the clergy and laity who faithfully serve with us to the glory of God, in witness to Christ our Savior and in the power of the Holy Spirit  that is transforming our lives, church, diocese, Anglican Communion and all of creation.”

July 23, Bishop Shaw writes from Lambeth:

“One of the most engaging experiences of the last couple of days has been the presentation that the American evangelist and author Brian McLaren made to the entire conference on Monday night (July 21).  He talked about evangelism in the context of our pre-modern, modern and emerging world contexts, really looking at the decline in growth in the church in the western world and the growth in the church in places like Africa, qualifying that by talking about what kind of growth it is and about how theology that looks only toward heaven really isn’t the Good News that transforms societies here on earth.  

“He was certainly well received by the entire conference, and helped us realize that whether we are in the developing global South or a prosperous province in the West, we all have a lot of work to do around evangelism and allowing this new church to emerge among us.  He said it wasn’t really a program to institute but an example we have to set for ourselves.  He challenged us as bishops to be an example of people who go outside the institution to draw people in.

“It’s important to remember that these are still very early days, and like in any difficult meeting or conversation, it’s going to take us awhile to find our way.  It seems to me that that’s what we’re doing, finding our way, and for the most part, I think people are being faithful to that.

“There’s been some controversy over a statement issued by bishops of Sudan and signed by Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, calling for Gene Robinson’s resignation.  It’s unfortunate that the fair amount of press over that has eclipsed the message Harare’s bishop, Sabastian Bakare, gave during a news briefing yesterday regarding the state of affairs in Zimbabwe.  The most urgent issues for Zimbabweans, he said, are their need for basic necessities, like food and medicine, and for peace and rule of law.  I had dinner with Sebastian and his wife, Ruth, last night, and they say things remain uncertain as to whether the unity government that’s coming together there will be able to end the violence that President Mugabe encourages.

“Tomorrow I will serve as a media briefer for the walk around London that we will be making in order to show our solidarity with the Millennium Development Goals.  Prime Minister Gordon Brown will be with us tomorrow at lunch, and it is important as he goes off to the United Nations meeting in September to have the message that Anglican bishops around the world support the goals and speak for the eradication of poverty.

“To make our voices heard in the public sector on these issues is a way we can be transformational in the world.  The Gospel demands that of us. 

“Pray for us as we pray for you.”

July 22, Bishop Gayle E. Harris writes from Lambeth:

“Amidst the worship, greetings, laughter, conversation and gatherings we began the day in our Bible study groups discussing fear.

“We examined fear in the context of the account of Jesus walking on the troubled waters of the Sea of Galilee found in the Gospel of John, chapter 6, verses 14-21.  When the disciples saw him, they were terrified, and Jesus said, ‘It is I; do not be afraid.’

There has been much anxiety in the worldwide Anglican Communion leading to this conference.  At times the worry of division and the outcries of strident voices have brought some of our brothers and sisters to a place of fear about the continuation of our communion with each other.  And yet even now Jesus comes to us in our troubled state and says, ‘do not be afraid,’ for ourselves as individuals and as a fellowship in Christ.

“Jesus is very present here.  He is discovered in our common ground of mission articulated in Isaiah 61:1-4, which Jesus restated in Luke 4: 18-21.  He is discovered in our open and honest sharing.  He is present as we break bread with each other.

“In my Bible study, several of us admitted to having fears about engaging one another here.  Our diversity of theological interpretations and cultural differences are blessing and difficulty.  But when we began listening to how and what we fear, together as a group, we discovered, first, that we are more alike than we thought, and second, in fear we were focusing on ourselves.  Fear obscures our vision and perception, making us unable to clearly see Jesus among us and in each of us.  (Fear is the basis of the exclusion of Gene Robinson from Lambeth.)  In fear we focus on the troubled waters tossing us about and are not able to see Jesus who comes to us and seeks us.

“Every hour I meet people I do not know and who are very different from me, who have fears and are traveling with me on this sea called Lambeth.  And in most circumstances, we have helped each other to see it is Jesus who is coming towards us, calling us out of our fears.  We must not be so focused on the troubles that we cannot recognize Jesus.  We must not be afraid.  It is in and with Jesus that each and every one of us can continue together in our journey in life and faith.”

July 18, Bishop Cederholm writes from Lambeth:

“You of course are familiar with Jesus’s post-resurrection words to Peter on the beach:  When you grow old...someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not want to go.  I know it is self-indulgent for me to identify myself with the deeper meaning of this verse,  but as some of you know, I am old, and I was a reluctant pilgrim to Lambeth for a variety of reasons. Obedience got me here, and I have realized since my arrival that God wants me here not so I can make a difference (how ego-centered of me to even think I could), but for my and my colleague bishops’ own conversion, personally and corporately.  That is what I have gleaned so far from two days of retreat.  

“Archbishop Rowan offered a few pearls in his mediations that I share with you:

“Instead of seeing ourselves as taking hold of Christ, let Christ take hold of you. (Phil.3:12)  Did that ever hit home for me!

“You have two ears…listen to others with one and to God with the other so that you may speak God’s word and not your agenda to others in a way understandable in the context and experience of their lives.

“From William Stringfellow, Christian activist and writer speaking about religious people and biblical people:  Religious people know the words and teachings of religion and how to satisfy the demands of their religion, but biblical people are caught in the spotlight of God’s intention and called to obedience for the sake of God’s kingdom.  Religious people feel relaxed, calm and safe.  Biblical people are quite afraid.  He then called us to be biblical people, not religious.

“From St Ignatius:  Bishops are pleasing to God when they are silent.  (No laughing here!)  For in being silent they show respect for God’s word and God’s intentions and not one’s own.

“Finally, Rowan encouraged us to think about the importance of community, saying there is no such thing as a single Christian, with the implication that there is no such thing as a single bishop, diocese or province.  We all need each other to be community and in communion.  Using St. Benedict and the desert fathers as teachers, he asked what it would be like if bishops agreed to a common rule of life (one rule from the desert fathers being a deep reluctance to criticize or condemn another).  Faithfulness to each other is as important as faithfulness to Scripture and tradition.

“I pray each Episcopalian, each congregation and our diocese would ponder and pray about how these meditation pearls might be transforming in one’s personal faith journey and discipleship as well as in one’s congregation, in our diocese and in the Anglican Communion.

“I will now be pleasing to God and those of you who have hung in there reading all this by being…silent.”

July 17, Bishop Shaw writes from Lambeth:

“Many bishops arrived for pre-Lambeth hospitality events in dioceses in Wales, Scotland and England on Thursday or Friday of last week.  I traveled on Friday (July 11) to the Diocese of St. Edmundsbury and Ipswich for three days with Bishop Nigel Stock and his wife, Carolyne.  They were gracious hosts, and I had the opportunity to spend time with eight other bishops and their spouses from Papua New Guinea, Tanzania, South Africa, South India, New Zealand and Canada who were also assigned to that diocese.  It was a good way to become accustomed to the international life of the Anglican Communion before coming here to Canterbury.

“Last evening we were welcomed by the archbishop of Canterbury in a very honest address in which he described the challenges we face over the next days while also expressing his confidence that with prayer and diligent discussion the conference will be a life-changing event for all of us and for the communion.”