Monday, July 28, 2008

On the Windsor front...

As stewards, we have some interesting opportunities. We are able to sit in on self-select sessions and hearings.

I've had the opportunity to attend both hearings from the Windsor Continuation Committee as well as a session on an introduction to the Anglican Covenant for bishops held by three members of the Covenant Design Group (+Chew, Scully, and Nottage) and +Tom Wright.

To quote a few attendees, the whole thing was depressing.

The first set of hearings, which was open to all bishops, invited bishops to speak at one of two microphones for up to three minutes. This first hearing was rather predicictable, with most bishops saying what they were expected to say. Most expressed a desire for unity and a continuing of communion.

Two points worth mentioning from this first hearing:
Bishop Sue Johnston, National Bishop of the Lutheran Church of Canada pointed out that human sexuality issues are ecumenical issues.

+Pierre Whalon pointed out that using TEC Convocation of American Churches in Europe as a model for nongeographic diocese was like using the Titanic as a model for shipbuilding.

The second set was a bit painful. Attendees were asked to look through the lens of "what personal sacrifice do I have to make?" Almost everyone who spoke was either American or Canadian, and they spent most of their time defending their position or themselves. A few bishops spoke of not being willing to sacrifice GLBT people/clergy... another basically said "We have same sex blessings in my diocese, so there." Which, while honest, did not help the dialogue.

I felt the most useful statements actually came from +Duncan Gray,
+Roskam, NY, who was the only person at all on any side of the issue to mention theology - requesting the opportunity to present a scriptural defense of a more progressive theology

+Sutton, Maryland who compared the use of the bible to subjugate blacks and perpetuate slavery to treatment of GLBT people. He was not, mind you, saying that the two sets of suffering were equal, but that the bible has been used for evil things. He said that any of the African -American bishops would be happy to discuss the issues with their fellow bishops.

A paper with preliminary observations was circulated, which called for a moratorium on the consecration of gay bishops, the blessing of same sex unions, and of cross boundary invasions, which as a few people pointed out, seemed a bit like "I'll give you one moratorium if you give me one."
The plan seemed to give little assurance of this last one. There was also a question as to what the terms "moratorium" and "authorized" mean.

As a few British priests on staff here have pointed out, there are many issues with tactics on all sides, and people aren't speaking to the same issues. They aren't speak across to eachother but rather past eachother.

In regards to the Covenant, few people if any seem happy. While some agree that a covenant is necessary. I mentioned to someone on the design group what a member of my diocesan deputation said: that the appendix is diseased and needs to be removed. She laughed and actually agreed. She admitted the appendix was rushed, and could understand where I was coming from when I said that it was the only part that didn't seem biblically based.

In all, everyone was very defensive, with love. While I don't think an "Anglican Inquisition" would occur - especially since it would result in very few Anglicans and likely a surge in Lutherans and other mainline denominations, and that would just make us look dumb. We can't just kill people for that anymore... at least, not in the US or in England.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A quick observation on Lambeth

Most all bishops are desperate for unity and to preserve the Anglican Communion, but no one is willing to change their position.

I do believe that with that set of conditions the Anglican Communion can remain, as do most of the other stewards.

The hope seems to be that at Lambeth the bishops will eat together, pray together, and talk together... and then they can go home and do their jobs.

We shall see.

People I've met

I've realised I've had the opportunity to meet and reconnect with some great people outside of the stewards program, and this is where I give at least some of the a "shout out."

The first is to Elizabeth Keaton, who is, as many of you know, a priest from the Diocese of Newark and fabulous person. I also got to meet Jon, a candidate for Holy Orders in that diocese and working with Integrity at Lambeth.

The next is to Neva Rae Fox, wife of a fellow deputy from Dio NJ who is hear as press for the PB's office, who is a doing a grand a job with all of the press people in the pen upstairs in Darwin. Its got to be a difficult job for all the press (including Elizabeth) as there is little news worthy that is occuring. There are press conferences that they are all attending though.

The next person I met was Mary Francis Schjonberg. She is the sort whose name I have seen in numerous places but didn't know what she looked like until I managed to severely put my foot in my mouth.

I spoke with Bishop Pierre Whalon of the Convocation of American Churches in Europe who apparently knows I have this blog as well as my own bishops and numerous other people both from 815 and abroad

So to everyone, here is your shout out, and if I missed you, let me know and I'll write you up in the next one

In peace,
A Lambeth Steward

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Day in London (or the most bourgeois march I have ever attended)

Buses, taken by Alex
Thursday was the Conference "London Day." The day consisted of a "Walk of Witness," lunch at Lambeth Palace, and tea at Buckingham Palace, before taking the buses back to UKC.
It was the day when the stewards had to get 1300 people onto 34 buses four times, three of which had to be done quickly. Luckily, I was not one of those stewards.

Two staff members, nine other stewards and I, left UKC at 6:00am to arrive in London before the other buses. We basically had to find toilets, find the Walk's starting point, and figure out the best path to get from the buses drop off point to these places.

It does figure, a bit, that my first time in London would be for a march.

Part of my reason for wanting to be on the early bus was to actually have some time to see London. While we didn't have much time, we did walk to Trafalgar Square and one of the Brits who was with us told us about the different places we saw and passed along the way.

During the march itself, which was to raise awareness about the MDGs my task was to walk up and down the sides of the march and ensure that no one was hurt, overly tired, or for any reason needed to be pulled out, as well as keeping any counter-demonstrators away. None of this proved to be an issue, and it was good exercise. There were rickshaws in the back for anyone who couldn't do the walk.

It was amazing walking past parliament and across Lambeth Bridge over the Thames.

The walk ended at Lambeth Palace where we listened to a speech by PM Gordon Brown. The speech itself was quite good. It was loud and called for an end to poverty. Now if only his (and our) government's policy reflected this... because if our governments truly wanted an end to poverty, there wouldn't be any.

Once we were near the tent outside the palace and we could take off our orange jackets all of the stewards were amazed how good we could look. As we walked to the tent we were treated to a concert of steel drums and dancing played by children from the Archbishop's School. During a delicious lunch most of us were seated randomly, and I was seated with another steward (from the UK), The bishop of Newark and his wife, ditto the bishop of West Missouri, Martha Gardner from 815, the bishop of Wyoming, and a bishop from Fiji.

The bishop from Figi was quiet, but very interesting, and actually stated that he wished the female bishops would participate more during discussions!

We then quickly loaded the buses to get everyone to Buckingham Palace. We couldn't bring cameras into the palace, but it was a good time, if not more than a bit ridiculous. The parts of the inside of the palace we were able to see were beautiful and the gardens were, unsurprisingly, perfect. They managed to be perfectly put together without looking overly contrived.

The band at the palace, in their military garb, played theme songs and soundtracks all afternoon, including Oliver, The Incredibles , JamesAllie with Ruth Councell Bond and I Got Rhythm. The iced coffee was fabulous.

We then got back on the buses and took the two hour drive home for a staff meeting and drinking G&Ts and watching "The Queen" on DVD.

Friday, July 25, 2008

lost and found

to answer a question I've been getting:

Yes, +Tom Wright found his robes. They had been delivered to the wrong place and moved a few times to end up in what was still the wrong place, but found.

Two very different Eucharists...

As many other people have written, there were two very different Eucharists last Sunday.

One was very formal, festive, and dignified. It began with half an hour procession followed by festive singing and an amazing men and boys choir, dancing and singing during the gospel by Melonesian brothers and sisters. The stewards were sitting off to the side of the "choir" where there are cutouts and tombs, which meant that I was one of the few non-bishops who could actually see onto the altar.

There was only about an hour between the end of the first Eucharist and the beginning of the second... along with a twenty minute walk, so when the service began it looked like there would be a small turnout of bishops, but by the end there were over 30. The second Eucharist was far less festive, and far lower. Rather than inside a magnificent building we were outside of a parish church on a field during on and off rain. The mood was far more tense than any Integrity Eucharist I could remember. It was a sharp contrast to the earlier Eucharist although the music and sermons were surprisingly similar.

At the first service the bishop of Columbo (Sri Lanka) preached a sermon about inclusion, and the churches responsibility to be a "voice for the voiceless." During the first we sang that "all are welcome in this place," in the second we showed it.

Anyhow, on to the pictures (those from inside the Cathedral were taken from the conference website)!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Slight break

Due to a death of an acquaintance I'm not really feeling up to blogging.
Please pray for the Liquori family.
Tomorrow I'm off to London, Ill try to catch up after that

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Blinding the Bishop

note *I will cover the two Eucharists, but I wanted to do this first- if you don't want to read the post, please do check out the photo at the bottom*

The past few days have been both interesting and very busy. The goings on of a steward are a bit different from those of other participants, as we can be assigned to strange places while major events are going on - such as monitoring a random gate on campus while a plenary session is going on in the big top.

Yesterday afternoon I was assigned to watch the door on a Fringe Event - monitoring who comes in and out. Ironically, it was an event on reparative therapy. Unsurprisingly, there were about 10 attendees, at least four of whom were associated with an LGBT org. Most of the bishops could not attend as it was badly scheduled, but the next day, when the bishops were free, I was told the attendance was only about seven.

Yesterday evening I met with a friend who had just arrived from NJ.

Yesterday evening there was a presentation for Bishops and Spouses on "Changing Contexts: breaking open our models for evangelism" by American pastor and author Dr. Brian McLaren - who I have actually heard speak before. His talk, which looked at different models of evangelism and growing the church while providing an analysis of both problems an doable solutions both on small and diocesan and province wide scales was very useful and interesting.
That ended around 9:45.
Then we had a staff meeting.
Then I had to be on morning prayer duty at 6am.

I was monitoring who came into the building while sitting on the floor of the lobby. After everyone had come in, apparently I fell asleep, which I realised as everyone started coming back down the stairs after prayer.

I had about an hour off before I had to leave for the Spouses venue where there was talk about the MDGs so that the Spouses would understand what they were walking about during the Walk of Witness on London Day on Thursday.

This was followed by a presentation on what to expect while in London.

During the afternoon bishops could choose to attend a variety of self-select sessions that covered topics from Ethical Issues in Global Warming to The Church of the Triune God: Heresy, Schism, and Reception in Communion. I was to watch the door on "Youth: Please Listen to Me... your future depends on it."

I was both surprised and impressed to find it attended by Archbishop Rowen (or ArchieRo as some of the stewards have begun to refer to him -- not to his face of course). I was surprised because the CofE doesn't value or utilize its youth in the same way it does in the USA. There were no press around nor were their any "high ranking" people who would have seen ++Rowan making some sort of overture to the youth. In the CofE acolytes are usually adults and many parishes simply aren't interested in changing their own paradigm to make changes that would interest younger people. I was speaking to an older local volunteer who simply couldn't fathom that young people might be interested, or that we were effectively working on it in the US.

She felt as if she started to get it when she mentioned a church that lets the children help make jam for the church... I let it go... but she was interested.

The group became too big for the room and they moved outside. I ran into a rather lost +Catherine Roskam, and as I was walking her to the place she needed to be I heard: "they've blindfolded the archbishop."

... and there he was... standing in a circle being told directions.

I was greatly pleased with the vulnerability he was willing to share for the sake of the youth.
Please don't steal these photos to make fun of him.

I'm off to dinner with some friends before sitting in on the evening plenary: "Cardinal Ivan Dias - Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelism of Peoples at the Vatican - Mission, Social Justice and Evangelisation."

Monday, July 21, 2008

Past few days

The last few days have been a bit of a whirlwind. There have been final preparations for the beginning of the conference, the beginning of The Spouses Conference, the opening Eucharist, and lots of worship and singing.

All the bishops have commented how wonderful the retreat was and the spouses are beginning to get settled in. We have had few injuries, and all seems to be going well.

The Ecumenical Guests arrived Saturday. It is so much fun to see the attire of the leaders of the many different Christian traditions represented. From the Lutheran bishops who resemble Anglican bishops, to the Salvation Army representative's military based uniform to the beautiful and detailed robes of the orthodox representatives, it was a very interesting site. These guests were formally welcomed at worship that evening.

Two more points:
1. The ten foot fence:
There have been rumors of a ten foot fence which surrounds the "Big Top"- the large blue tent in which many conference events are held for the purpose of intimidating people.
This is not true... the fence is a bit under six and a half feet high and was required by the insurance company for the tent. There is a lot of expensive equipment in that tent such as lights, headsets, microphones, etc and no perfect way to secure it as it is a tent. While I'm sure the fence does provide some sort of "people" security as well, its primary purpose is to conform to the rules of the insurance company.

2. The HOB is deliberately excluding +Gene from attend an HOB meeting this morning.
Yes, +Gene is not invited to this gathering. The conference has scheduled provincial meetings for province (or region) of the Anglican Communion on campus as official conference events. Every event at Lambeth has a very specific requirement as to who is allowed in. Most events are exclusive.
Before every event at Lambeth Stewards are told who is allowed in (people are colour coded- bishops and bishop's spouses are on the same color but have different badges).
Because Bishop Robinson does not have a purple lanyard, he would not be allowed in to the room where the provincial gathering is being held.
There isn't anything we as stewards are allowed to do about it, it can only be taken up with the Lambeth Secretariat.
I agree that +Gene should be able to meet with his province, so please don't start with that. Simply, it is not the bishop's decision to make.

Lasty, if as you are reading this blog, you don't see something discussed that you would like to know about, please email me or post a reply, and I will be happy to talk about it. So much is going on at Lambeth that it is hard at times to distinguish between what people are hearing about/find interesting and otherwise.

In peace,
A Lambeth Steward

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Three seperate things

There are three seperate concepts, that are undoubtedly a bit connected, but nevertheless separate that some people seem to be merging.

1. ++Rowan Williams
2. The issues in the Anglican Communion
3. The Lambeth Conference

Please don't crucify one when you mean another.

I've turned on moderated posting because this is a blog of my tales from Lambeth. Anything that may create division is not getting through as that is not the purpose of this blog.

Yes these are all connected, but they are all their own thing as well.

I'm off to Canterbury Cathedral for the opening Eucharist and then to St. Stephen's for the Integrity/Changing Attitudes Echarist.

In Peace,

A bit surreal

I'll admit this Lambeth Conference is a bit surreal for me.

I've joked with ++Rowan... and got into a discussion with +N.T. Wright regarding the robes that he forgot. They were to be mailed to him, but hadn't made it yet. He is borrowing those of another bishop.

I've studied this man. Its so strange to be talking about such a mundane topic... and its basically been a week of this.

I don't get star struck, its just strange meeting all these people one usually sees as an author

Friday, July 18, 2008

The night on which Allie makes fun of the Archbishop of Canterbury to his face

On Thursday evening Dr. Jane Williams had a book launch of her new book, Marriage, Mitres, and Being Myself. It is a compilation of stories from bishops' spouses. The launch was complete with a short and witty lecture as well as wine and chocolate.

As people were milling about before the lecture, Archbishop Rowan, like many of the others, were talking. I was standing with another steward off to the side of the room. ++Rowan slipped out of his conversation and came over to talk to us. He began by asking us how we were and if we were tired yet. We answered politely pointed out that he was likely more tired as the whole world was looking at him and not us. He pointed out that we were wearing florescent vests. He then asked us what we did when we weren't doing this.

The other steward began to explain our other duties. He stopped her and said, "no, no, when you aren't here." She replied that she studies theology at this university (UKC). He asked me, and I replied that I am a masters student in library science. He asked where.

Upon my reply of Rutgers, he immediately said "Oh, in Joisey."

Yes, I'm serious.

I, of course, in response, put on my thickest NJ accent and say "woi, of corwse, waya else wood I be from? Do we awl tawk funny or wha-ev?"

He laughs, and is then made fun of (not by me) for being Welsh and making fun of anyone elses speaking.

He is very humble and self-effacing and down to earth. At the opening plenary, when explaining what would happen on the retreat, he mentioned that there would be a series of addresses. He said that he hoped they would be useful. But if the bishops found them "boring or incomprehensable" that they are welcome to not pay attention and try to listen to God in other ways instead.

When Jane, who isn't much taller than I am, was taking a photo with a few Korean women, he pointed out that this would be one of the few times that she has ever towered over anyone.

Some of the clergy and bishops are critical of this aspect of ++Rowan, but I have found it quite comforting.

While this was a bit rambling, I don't really feel like rewriting it

An "I" at Lambeth

Those of you who know me well, know that I am, without a doubt, an introvert (a chatty one, but an I nonetheless).

After ten days running around with little sleep and large numbers of people almost constantly (first stewards now everyone) I am beyond exhausted. Other than when we are sleeping there has been almost no time alone and I'll admit I've been getting a bit testy.

I'm arrainging to have a bit of time to myself that I plan to use to sneak off and just be for a few hours, but if I do snap at you before hand in some way, I am sorry.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

If you blog or read Anglican Blogs READ ME!!!

(I'm not asking you to agree with me, I'm asking you to consider this perspective)

I have a newfound respect for the Archbishop of Canterbury which I, as many of you know, didn't have before.

It is very easy to criticize him from across the pond, or even from England, but meeting him and seeing how he deals with things is amazing.

Yes, I wish he would take a stand more similar to that which he did previously, but he is human and cannot work miracles by himself. He can not wave his arm and have everyone included and still have a church now. He has appeared to work on miracle however: He has designed a conference which has created a holy space and has an atmosphere of spirituality, comradary, and unity.

This conference is not a circus. It is not angry. It is not about mud slinging or being "right." Archbishop Rowan has designed a conference that is about increasing and growing ministry as a bishop. It is a "professional development" conference, for lack of a better term.

While it may be boring for the media, I could not be prouder to be an Anglican.
And I pray people (on both the left and the right) would stop writing nasty things who aren't here or can't get into the venues that only we and the delegates can get into, and don't know what they are talking about.

No, it isn't perfect. No, everyone isn't being included. But we are all trying to serve God the best we can.


Me with the ABC


Link to the original pic - on the Anglican Communion website!

Welcome to the Big Top

The Big Top, which is the name we are using for the large blue tent where worship and bishops plenary sessions occur, is restricted to delegate entrance only. There are a few limited sessions in which the press are allowed, but other than that only bishops, spouses, staff, and stewards are allowed inside. Photography, other than for official conference photographers is not allowed, however, that was not the rule before things were set up, so I bring you "The Big Top" (before they laid the carpeting, and without the pretty lighting).

This last photo was taken backstage behind the projection screen. Those wooden planks that steward is holding have since become the altar table.

Speaking of which, Michael Sniffin, a fellow steward and priest from the Diocese of LI (NY) had the honor of assisting the administration of communion at this morning's Eucharist. How's that for something to talk about for the rest of ones life!

In Peace
A Lambeth Steward

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Back up

I should be back up early tomorrow morning!

And so it begins....

On Monday and Tuesday morning we had our final days of training, met with the 300 Canterbury Volunteers and had a surprise complete with a visit from Archbishop Rowan. As you can see from our attire, we were not expecting this visit. He was very nice and, based on his writings, most of us were surprised how "normal" and joking he was.

This was followed by a tour of Canterbury Cathedral, complete with view of St. Augustine's chair and a view of where Thomas Beckett was killed.

On Tuesday about a third of the bishops arrived. Conference organizers were not expecting that many people, so we were very short staffed and busy. The other 1,000 people arrived yesterday.

The registration process was a bit more complicated than everyone expected. Delegates arrived at all different times by different means of transportation. Most were picked up from the coach stop or train stations in town by volunteers or arrived coaches from other parts of England where many were staying for a few days.

When they arrived they were brought to a large car park where stewards looked up their room numbers and their luggage was transported to their rooms depending on the residential complex they would be residing.

All of the rooms are actually rather nice single dorm rooms. Nicer than almost anything I've ever seen for undergrads in the US. The rooms are rather large with large desks, movable desk lamps contraptions that boil water, and surprisingly comfortable beds.

Some of the "western" bishops, when they saw that they and their spouses were in separate bedrooms (all next door to their spouses), were convinced that they had been singled out... that other people were in doubles. They clearly were not.

After their luggage was checked, they joined a queue to register, get their ID badge and lanyard and their welcome packet. At one point the queue was over an hour long. But as the English queue well, they set a peaceful precedent.

They then went to their rooms and could eat in one of two rather nice dining halls until the opening plenary session yesterday evening.

In Peace,
A Lambeth Steward

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Colour Coding Lambeth

Everyone at Lambeth has to wear a different colour lanyard with an ID attached to be allowed into any venue (other than the Marketplace).

It is likely that in photographs in the media you will see people wearing the different colours.
Here is a quick guide to those colours:

Red: Staff

Green: Stewards

Yellow/Gold: Canterbury Volunteers

Grey: Day Guests/Resource People

Purple: Bishops/Bishop's Spouses/Ecumenical Guests

White: Exhibitors

Sky Blue: Press

Dark Blue: University Staff

Sunday, July 13, 2008

So Who are We?

I'm sure you must be wondering who exactly these stewards are.
That is a rather difficult question.
We are a diverse group of about 60 from around 20 different countries. We vary in age, occupation, language, and original religious background.

There are about 20 stewards from the UK, most are students at either the University of Kent or Christ Church University or alumni from those schools. About 4 aren't Anglican but were interested in serving regardless.

There are seven and two halves students from the US: A priest/ph.d student from the diocese of Long Island, three students from Duke Divinity School, a student at Fuller Theological Seminary, and a student at Bexley Hall (and me). There are also two foreign students studying in the US: one from Brazil and the other from Canada.

There are two Canadian stewards as well as our chaplains, Ralph Spence, the retired bishop of Niagra and his wife.

We have stewards from Mexico, Cuba, South Africa, India, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, France, Japan and Myanmar! (among others).

There are three priests (that I know of), at least 8 seminarians/ordinands, as well as a large number of undergrads hoping to pursue ordained ministry. Others are in finance, law, music, there is a DJ, and many are graduate or undergraduate students.

Many people were raised Anglican while others were Catholic, Hindu, Jewish, Baptist or raised in local religions. Some were raised in religious families, while others came this way themselves.

There are leftists, liberals, and conservatives.

However, all of us are here to learn, listen, serve and help make the Lambeth Conference one of unity and of strengthening the effectiveness and usefullness and well as wholeness of all of the bishops who attend.

(Thanks to Robert S for the photo!)

The bishops arrive on Tuesday and Wednesday, so this should be an interesting day.

In Peace,
A Lambeth Steward

All the World's a Stage...

As I mentioned before, we had to arrive at the University of Kent a week before the Conference began. This was for a week of explanations, training, and set up. We were given the Programme Leaflet for the conference and told our general duties.

Among these are: Checking IDs at the entrances of facilities: Every facility is restricted on who is allowed to enter (we can enter everywhere). Conference participants (stewards, staff, volunteers, bishops, spouses, exhibitors, press) have different colored lanyards which say where they can go.

We will be marshelling people on and off of buses, and giving instructions while on a bus.

... walking the Walk of Witness in London.

... doing some administrative work (copying etc)

... monitoring the exhibiting hall and marketplace.

... assisting in some workshops.

... giving directions and answering questions as needed

... providing security and "locking down" buildings during sessions

... other tasks as requested

Now, you might be wondering how Stewards are recognised. We will be wearing green lanyards, but the conference organisers decided that wasn't enough.

Along with the lanyards, we will be wearing "high visibility jackets" seen below:

I think we will be rather difficult to miss.

Adding to the rather visible nature of the conference is the place where the bishops will be meeting. The conference has taken up most of the space on campus including all of the large venues. Between the Spouses Conference and the Marketplace, there wasn't much space for place where 1300 people (bishops for the plenary, and bishops, spouses, and staff for Eucharist) could meet at one time.

So they set up a tent.

Throughout our training the staff has been referring to this tent as "the Big Top." Since the circus is coming to town, we are all awaiting the exhibitionists and the clowns.

In peace
A Lambeth Steward