The last few days of the conference have focused around the themes on the Bishops' Place in the World and Human Sexuality.
I've avoided all that. There isn't anything I can contribute, and there is no point in my getting upset over it until they decide what they are going to say. I've been listening and talking to bishops, but the hearings are just too much.
Instead, I've had interesting times with worship, getting to know the other stewards, attending lectures, and eating.
Last Friday we put together a Eucharist for the stewards and chaplaincy team in the crypt of the Cathedral (Our Lady Undercroft). I was blown away by the group. Everyone who did anything in the service was a steward. The three organists and choir director were stewards, as was the excellent choir. The readings were selected by and read by stewards as were the intersessions. The acolytes, thurifer, concelebrants and deacons were all stewards as well.
Our preacher and celebrant was +Ralph Spense, our chaplain. The service was marvelous, and we are having another one - a bit lower, tonight.
Saturday was photo day. All of the staff, followed by all of the spouses, followed by all of the bishops lined up on bleachers for the infamous Lambeth group shots. Photos of the women bishops were taken as well. These were both exciting the number of bishops in them, but also sad by the small amount of progress made in ten years regarding those numbers.
On Monday morning the Province of the Indian Ocean celebrated Eucharist. While in the past all of the con celebrants have been men, there was a woman in the group. A priest who was sought out to be a woman in the group. Many people are sad that there haven't been any women celebrating, but others fear some wouldn't attend Eucharist for that reason. Regardless, most of the provinces leading Eucharist don't have female bishops (this was to get more developing nations leading services)
The Anglican Church of Southern Africa led evening worship, which was fun and interesting, although, a few of us noted that the use of the standard worship group (all white) looked a little colonial. That evening the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations, Sir Jonathan Sachs, spoke. Although I was unable to attend, the entire lecture, I will say that he was one of the most dynamic Rabbis I've ever heard. His style was almost evangelical in nature (although a bit more academic).
On Tuesday I was able to hear some fun African drumming by LGBT Anglicans before going to hear their stories.
For the past few days I've spent a lot of time waiting and reading. I've been assigned to venues like "spouses bible studies" which involves sitting in the courtyard waiting for questions, or sitting outside of self-select sessions or guarding some sort of gate for insurance reasons. This was the case on Wednesday where I had little of note to do until 6:00pm. Each night +Rowan and Jane throw a small party for about 150 bishops at either the Old Palace (behind the cathedral) or in one of the banquet rooms on campus (if there is an evening plenary). Two or three stewards are assigned to each reception, where we load buses, walk the people to Old Palace, stand around and drink wine and eat snacks, get back on the coaches and arrive in time to meet the other stewards at the pub.
It was held in a lovely garden, and Natalie, the other steward and I had the opportunity to talk to Jane Williams. We asked her for a photo, and she decided she needed to call her husband over as well.
Today I attended morning Eucharist led by the United Church of Pakistan, which would have been far more useful had it been translated into English (I found myself trying to follow along with the Spanish translation over the headsets). It was, regardless, a lovely service. After each morning Eucharist there is a five minute video (courtesy of Trinity, Wall Street) recapping the day before. Today's actually focused on staff and stewards. YAY! I had breakfast, sat outside the spouses bible studies, and did some shopping.
I'm about to head into Canterbury to finish that, and hope to meet up with some people this evening.
A Lambeth Steward