Tuesday, July 22, 2008

From Central Africa to the Vatican

Greetings to one and all! Today has been an interesting spectacle. I just read the summaries of the media reports from Lambeth and many of them make me wonder if I've been to the same meeting. I cannot believe some of the twisting and turning of the day's events I've been reading about!

As always, we began with a Eucharist celebrated according to the tradition of the Anglican Church in Central Africa. The music was wonderful and we were blessed by a stirring sermon from Bishop James Tengatenga of Southern Malawi. Bishop James and I have known each other for some time and it was a wonderful gift to the Conference to hear him preach. Our morning continued with our daily Bible study and prayer, today focusing on the bread of life passages in John 6.

Today's Indaba group engaged us in conversation about mission issues that have impact upon the whole Communion: ministry with youth, migrant workers, immigrants and displaced persons, HIV/AIDS, racial reconciliation, etc. (This is only part of the list, but you get the idea.). We will be returning to many of these matters because they are important "on the ground" concerns for many of our people around the world.

Over lunch I met with the bishops of New York and Bishop Mhogolo of the Diocese of Central Tanganyika to discuss our continuing partnership in mission and ministry. It was wonderful to be able to talk about the work that the Cathedral of St. Philip is engaged in to help finish a parish church in Tanzania to meet the needs of its congregation! Way to go, St. Philip's! I am proud of the work you are doing. I was also able to spend some good time with Bishop Mhogolo talking about my next visit to the Diocese of Central Tanganyika and his next visit later this year to the Diocese of Atlanta.

Later in the afternoon I had good conversation with Bishop Filadelfo, the bishop coadjutor of the our companion diocese in Brazil, Rio de Janiero. I have invited him to be with us for annual council this year to "re-launch" our companionship in mission and ministry with the Diocese of Rio. His presence among us will be a blessing. Evening prayer was also led by our good friends in the Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil. The church in Brazil, as in much of Central and South America, is a result of the mission work of The Episcopal Church in the United States. As one Brazilian bishop regularly reminds me, "You are our mother church!" It is always a special joy for me to be with our friends and colleagues from Brazil.

This evening Ivan Cardinal Dias, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, addressed the Conference on Mission, Social Justice, and Evangelization. While I can easily imagine hearing myself say almost everything he said, what I would mean with those same words would differ substantially in meaning. But such is the nature of "official" communiques: many folks can agree on the words but everyone has a slightly (or sometimes substantially) different understanding of what's being said. Nonetheless, it was good to be pleasantly and substantively "greeted and encouraged" by the Vatican.

There are lots of folks around the edges who are spending time, effort, and significant amounts of money to attempt to disrupt the Lambeth Conference. Although there is no one reason to blame for the mess we're in the Anglican Communion, the largest single fracture in the fabric occurred at the Lambeth Conference 1998 because of those who rebelled and hijacked the carefully thought out agenda that had been proposed by Archbishop Carey. I believe that this meeting can go a long way toward mending the broken fences and restoring trust if we can resist the pressure from outside the Conference and work with care and deliberateness through the agenda as Archbishop Rowan has set it out. Pray for us.

Blessings!

Bishop Neil

3 comments:

Kelly said...

Dad! Don't forget to talk to Askofu Mhogolo about The Carpenter's Kids! We need to pair up with them--starting tomorrow!
Love you and miss you guys.

Kelly

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

Bless you for your work and witness ... keep up the good work!

R S Bunker said...

++Neil,

The vote on Lambeth 1.10 was 526-70, that was surely no hijacking. No gentle bishop, have no doubt, the biggest tear has come from TEC ripping apart the fabric of the Communion wit the Bishop of New Hampshire's instillation.

As with most of TEC you still deny the spiritual violence of the act you engaged in.

RSB