Monday, July 28, 2008

Lambeth Blog #7

Please do forward on to friends, family, parish family....Thank you!

Lambeth Blog #7
July 25, 2008

As hard as this may be to hear, the Episcopal Church of the Sudan may be showing the Communion a way forward. Recently the Archbishop of the Sudan made some very strong statements about Bishop Gene Robinson and the Episcopal Church. Since the Sudanese along with Liberian bishops and some others had been invited by our Presiding Bishop for a reception tomorrow afternoon, when we first learned of Archbishop Bul's statement to the press, we thought it signalled a rejection of us and a further splitting in the Anglican Communion. This does not appear to be the case.

We in the Episcopal Church have always said that we do not demand agreement with our positions in order to be in relationship. Now is the time to live into that commitment. The Archbishop of the Sudan was signalling to the rest of Africa, and I imagine particularly to the bishops of GAFCON who have stayed away from this conference, that he and the Sudanese are not being "bought" by the Americans. They do not agree with our actions, just as our other partners in Africa do not necessarily agree with us. And still they are choosing to be in relationship with us.

Hold in mind the words of Bishop Mdimi Mhogolo to me when we first entered into a partnership for Carpenter's Kids. "We do not agree with your decision [concerning Gene Robinson] but we think the division is the devil's work to keep the church from ministering to a suffering world." Of course, Bishop Mdimi said those words to me in private and the Archbishop of the Sudan went very public very unexpectedly. Nevertheless, I believe we should keep this particular door wide open. The Sudan is one of the places where extreme poverty and extreme violence combine to produce some of the greatest suffering on this earth. As long as the bishops choose to be in relationship with us, we can move ahead to minister together to this suffering world.

While we are on the subject of a suffering world, I confess to you that I almost lost my temper in our Indaba session this morning when one bishop said he thought that our focus on the MDG's was a distraction from the issue of human sexuality. I responded, trying to remain as civil as possible, that no matter what we might choose to discuss, the world's suffering is not a distraction for a gathering of bishops from around a Communion riddled by poverty, violence and catastrophe.

I have never heard a bishop from the developing world call the MDG's a distraction. For those of us in the developed world, suffering seems to us an abberration from a life intended to be free of it. Hence, we often ask "Why me?" when we experience the inevitable sufferings attached to being human. We are reluctant to recognize that for the vast majority of human beings on this planet, suffering is a way of life. And for some, extreme suffering is a daily occurrence. (If you would like some figures on this, I encourage you to google

It is as Gordon Brown said yesterday, people of faith can make a difference. The Anglican Communion does make a difference. Let us not spend time worrying about who is the wheat and who is the tare, but simply grow together in God's garden, trusting in the abundance of God's grace to get us through.



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