Sunday, July 20, 2008

June 20, 2008

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Today was a bright, sunny day in Canterbury as over 650 bishops of the Anglican Communion and their spouses walked the main street to the Cathedral to spend a Sunday morning worshiping God. The liturgy was what you would expect from Anglicans -- well done and orderly. Yet it brought together voices from all over our world in word and song. (The procession of bishops was 28 minutes long for those of you who think 60 minutes is a maximum service length.) The liturgy, in at least eight languages, was both moving and traditional, yet accessible and contemporary. The gospel procession featured Melanesian dancers in native dress with drums beating and the gospel carried in a canoe to be proclaimed in French. The homily from a bishop from Sri Lanka called us to become a church with no barriers. We made Eucharist together as one voice. It was a truly glorious time and easy to imagine how it must be around the heavenly throne. And yet there were sobering reminders that much hard work lies ahead for us at this Lambeth Conference.

The streets of Canterbury were not only filled with Bishops and spouses but also demonstrators, those who would encourage us to treat some as less than fully human. While they demonstrated in a very reserved and restricted English way, their message to me was clear. We have work to do.

Following the service we bused backed to the University of Kent for a short respite before the orientation for the week ahead. That was a testament to the work ahead of us to help foster healing in our Communion. We are being asked to set aside our expectations of the old way of working together (adversarial, legislative) and give our selves over to a new process (listening and reflecting, giving space for every voice.) It will be both a challenge and an opportunity.

Tomorrow we will begin again. Our first Indaba groups meet around the theme "The Bishop and Anglican Identity." Keep us in your prayers as we now begin our work together. Till now we have only focused on ourselves. Now it is no longer about "me" but about "us."

God's good blessing to all of you,

Bishop Keith

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