Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Bishop Bennison Discusses Lambeth With Archbishop Williams

[Stand Firm] 11 Apr 2007--These demands were hanging in the air when the Boksburg conference opened with a unforgettably-spirited Eucharist at All Souls' Church, Tsakane, in the Diocese of the Highveld, where the Archbishop of Canterbury preached. When eight Episcopal Church bishops met with him in private the next day I asked him, "When after September 30 will a decision about our place in the Communion be made, and will you be the one to make it?" His reply that he would leave the decision to the primates - the same group that had authored the Communiqué - left me fearful for our future in the Communion. On the other hand, his statement that he did not know when a decision would be made reassured me that no one is rushing to judgment or desirous to dismiss us.

Confirmation of my assessment came a few days later when two dozen bishops from elsewhere joined seven of us from the Episcopal Church for a heart-felt sharing of our expectations for the proposed 2008 Lambeth Conference, and whether it should be about mission or sexual ethics, or both. An hour into the conversation Nathaniel Makoto Uematsu, the Primate of Japan, confessed with deep emotion how grieved he was when "at the recent primates' Meeting some said that if others holding some views on some things came to Lambeth, they would neither attend nor permit their bishops to do so."

There ensued what I can only call a "holy silence" that lasted a seemingly endless time as 31 human souls and shepherds of Christ's church contemplated the seriousness of what had just been said and the lengths each may go to maintain communion with the others. But it was also an "awkward silence" in the face of what is still for most an unmentionable a subject - sexuality - because it is considered so sacred.

No comments: