Its been a few days since I've written, and this is not the post I was hoping to write [I've since made edits since talking to members of the Inclusive Church Network] .
Sometimes, I think they just don't get it... the rest of the time I know it.
Today's issue of the Lambeth Witness managed to ruin much the credibility the Inclusive Church Network has managed to build, and saddened and angered many of us.
People need to understand, Lambeth is a PROFESSIONAL conference... it is not a general meeting of Christians. IF this were a conference for Math Teachers, English Teachers would not be able to attend, and everyone would understand that. [edit: I've had some people comment that this is different because it is a church funded event... most of these people are priests... three words for you: Diocesan Clergy Conference... you may not see that at exclusionary but some of the lay people in your parish do] This isn't your (our) conference. This is a conference for bishops and spouses, therefore, often, press, volunteers, etc are not allowed to attend. It isn't about press, its about improving episcopal ministry.
Press, get over it, this isn't your conference.
More to the point, if you could get in, so could those who have greatly different opinions than yours, and they would distort it (regardless of which side you are on).
In today's Lambeth Witness the Very Revd Rowan Smith, Dean of Cape Town Cathedral in South Africa wrote an article which equated the colour-coded lanyard system we use here (described in an earlier post) at Lambeth to apartheid.
Um, come again?
Apartheid was used to keep people down, this system is used to ensure that those who are not Bishops aren't let into sessions which are for bishops... people need the ability to speak openly without the fear of being quoted or photos being taken.
That statement was way out of line and unfair to the conference organizers.
His article was filled with errors and inconsistencies that led most to believe that he made up his example. He said someone tried to enter the Big Top for mass, but was turned away by a "Steward" with a "yellow lanyard." Stewards wear GREEN lanyards. Canterbury volunteers wear YELLOW lanyards BUT Canterbury volunteers AREN'T allowed at the Big Top.
[edit: I was recently informed that this was for the later Eucharist which allows all participants to attend, not held in the Big Top. There likely was a volunteer at the door, but volunteers are not stewards. They are not briefed every day and likely didn't understand the instructions regarding colours of lanyards, or simply misinterpreted the instructions, however, most attendees do know the differece between stewards and volunteers (yellow sashes vs orange jackets.]
The tactics used by some of the member groups of the Inclusive Church network have already been off-putting to many attendees. The Lambeth Witness is the only paper publication at Lambeth, so the Inclusive Church Network is already a privileged position in this regard.
I feel that people are so used to be excluded unfairly that they don't notice when they are being excluded fairly.
These are all things that I have heard from other attendees. At first I thought that no one else would notice, but these errors were the talk of the dining hall (I said nothing). Most of what I have written was taken from what I over heard.
The people who have been working on the Lambeth Witness have put an INCREDIBLE amount of work into it. They've done a fabulous job at getting out their message. But what takes years to build can take seconds to ruin.
I get so annoyed when groups that are trying to do good things rip themselves down.
I'm not saying I agree with all of the decisions Lambeth has made... or that history doesn't show that bishops need to be monitored, just that organisations need to think about how what they published will be recieved by those who read it... the same way that what the bishops say will be recieved by those who hear it.