Thursday is an exciting  'rest day' for the bishops and their wives.  That is, if you can call restful: an early start, followed by a long coach ride, a March of Witness in central London, lunch at Lambeth Palace, a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, and the a long coach journey back to Canterbury. 

It sounds like a memorable day - and, mercifully, there are no scheduled Fringe events in the evening.

Various verbal time bombs went off yesterday (Wed). An eminent Roman Catholic Cardinal Ivan Diaz (who is 'Prefect for the Pontifical Council for the Evangelisation of Peoples at the Vatican') addressed the Conference.   In speaking of the ecumenical dimension of evangelisation he described a church that forgets its tradition as suffering from 'spiritual Alzheimers' and a church that goes its own way as having 'ecclesial Parkinsons Disease!'  Tough words from the Vatican to Anglicans about the advocacy of liberal re-writes of the Gospel and its ethical outworking.


Some memorable quotations that illumined the day (or darkened it, depending on your viewpoint):

'the world has been orphaned by religion which no longer answers its questions'.

the 'bread for life' feeds the body whilst the 'bread of life' makes the life worth living.

'the only thing that unites these bishops is that they share the same battlefield'

'blaming the Global South and GAFCON is like blaming Winston Churchill for rallying England (and the rest of the civilized world) in the 1940s'.

Thank you for your prayers, especially to uphold the bishops, as well as about the controversial issues before them.  Thanks also for your feedback, which we hope to reflect and respond to in the coming days.

John Simons (on behalf of the team)

Thursday's Agenda:

We are pleased to bring you today's agenda. 

Pray: Please feel free to use the agenda in whatever way you like to prompt your prayer cover over the day's proceedings.  Click the more link to find further information from the main Lambeth Conference website. 


Archbishop of Sudan calls for resignation of Bishop Gene Robinson

The Sudanese Archbishop said his church had come to Lambeth to tell the Communion its views on homosexuality and church order. “God is not making a mistake in creating an Adam and an Eve,” he said. “He could have made two Adams or two Eves”  if homosexuality were natural and not perverse.

Dr Deng refrained from calling for those bishops who had consecrated Gene Robinson to resign or to quit the Lambeth Conference “but should confess [of their sin] to the Conference.”  In a statement released on the second day of the Lambeth Conference, the Sudanese church called upon the American church to “respect the authority of the Bible,” refrain from ordaining gay priests or bishops, halt gay blessings, and “cease court actions” against traditionalists “with immediate effect.”

The American Church’s experiments with gay blessings and bishops had led to the deaths of Sudanese Christians, Dr Daniel Deng said in an impromptu press conference in the Lambeth Conference media room.

Because of the actions of the American church, 'we are called infidels in the Islamic world when they hear of the same-sex blessings,' he said. 'It will give [Islamist militants] reason to kill' Sudanese Christians he said. Dr Deng’s statement, backed by over 150 bishops from 17 Global South provinces presents a significant blow to Dr. Rowan Williams’ hopes of averting a crisis at the 14th Lambeth Conference. The American church has been on its best behaviour at Lambeth, seeking to mollify criticism from the wider Communion and preserve its place in the Church.

However, the Sudanese Archbishop, Dr Daniel Deng said there was 'already a breakdown of the Anglican Communion.' To prevent its wholesale collapse, 'Gene Robinson should resign.' However, Gene Robinson, the Anglican Communion's first openly gay bishop, is conspicuously unrepentant.

On the contrary he is determined that other Anglican bishops should not, as he put it, meet without a reminder of his presence at a Conference to which he was not invited.

Pray: for the suffering, yet courageous church in Sudan, in its witness at home and in the wider world.


Financial crisis hits Lambeth


As if the theological disturbances were not enough, Conference organisers have now revealed that they are facing a serious shortfall.  They are appealing for the Anglican Communion to rescue them from a financial black hole. The bishops' conference has cost £4.4 million to organise. 


The spouses' conference has been more economical, at £1.2 million. These figures do not even include travel costs, which, it is hoped, are being covered by individual linked dioceses and provinces.


Organisers are facing a budget shortfall of up to £2 million. The funding crisis is so severe that even in sky-high temperatures organisers have been unable to pay for air conditioning inside the sweltering conditions of the large blue circus-style tent in which plenary sessions are being held.


Pray: Lord, the price of unity seems to  come  in many forms. We ask that this Conference, set up by those who would be peacemakers in Your Name, may be provided with the resources it needs to complete the race.


Reconciliation group delivers bleak and pessimistic report on Lambeth impasse


A group set up to find a way for the Anglican Communion to contain its divisions about homosexuality has reported a bleak assessment of progress.


The openly gay bishop Gene Robinson was elected by the liberal Episcopal Church in the US five years ago. These years have been marked, says the group, by "fear-mongering, deliberate distortion and demonising". Gene Robinson's ordination prompted a crisis as the Communion's traditionalist majority began a campaign to expel the Episcopal Church.


It also produced the Windsor Process, the Communion's attempt to heal the rift. On Tuesday the leader of the Windsor Continuation Group delivered his starkly pessimistic "observations". Bishop Clive Handford said the Communion remained at an impasse.


The Archbishop of Canterbury has continued his quest for Anglican unity with a strong statement against living in sin and gay sex. Dr Williams said: "I do not believe that sex outside marriage is as God purposes it." And he said he remained "committed" to the Church's official stance against gay sex, which aims to preserve Biblical norms. The Archbishop's move from a liberal to conservative stance will be reinforced tomorrow when bishops are given the "observations document" of an internal church group set up to resolve the crisis.  In effect, Rowan Williams is renewing commitment to the overwhelmingly well supported conclusion of Lambeth 1998 (which liberals have been trying to undermine ever since).


Resolutions from 1998


Resolution I.10


Human Sexuality


This Conference:


a.    commends to the Church the report on human sexuality;


b.    in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage;


c.    recognises that there are among us persons who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation. Many of these are members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God's transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of relationships. We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we


d.    wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ;


e.    while rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture, calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals, violence within marriage and any trivialisation and commercialisation of sex;


f.     cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions;


g.    requests the Primates and the ACC to establish a means of monitoring the work done on the subject of human sexuality in the Communion and to share statements and resources among us;


Pray: that, despite increasingly open discord, the bishops will hold fast to a path that is faithful to Scripture, following the example of earlier Lambeths.




Episcopal March in London will reaffirm Millennium Goals today


The apparent contradiction ('march for poverty' before 'consorting with royalty') should not be approached with journalistic cynicism.   The Bishops meet with the Queen at a Buckingham Palace Garden Party in the afternoon.


The Congolese and others from places of terrible suffering and deprivation will remind us of the flesh-and-blood reality of many of the world's poorest people. Congo, like Sudan, easily gets forgotten, yet the suffering and genocide there in the last few years has been truly appalling and has generally been met with silence in the west.


The personal stories of Congolese bishops and spouses can be painfully hard to listen to. But the Anglican Communion is all about being united with people like this, praying for them, knowing them, serving them, supporting them and advocating for them.


These representatives of suffering nations will then stand in places of power and know that they are not forgotten - that they have dignity and are honoured by the rest of us, including our hosts.

Praise:  that so many martyrs for the faith are represented at Canterbury by delegates from afflicted nations, and honoured by their episcopal brothers and sisters.