Our first stop:
The Anglican Communion Offices. Staffed by 20 people, this office handles public relations, networking, Indaba (an African Tribal term, used for coming together. This was the theme of the last Lambeth Conference), among other things.
I learned that the Anglican Communion has 4 instruments of structure:
(In no particular order)
Lambeth Conference, begun in 1867, bishops from everywhere have been meeting since then every 10 years.
Anglican Consultative Council, begun in 1968, lay and clergy from all over the communion meet every 3 years.
Primates Meeting, begun in 1978, what TEC calls Presiding Bishops, meet every 2 years
What the big issue now is what is called the Anglican Covenant. Proposed in December 2009, this document speaks to common heritage and faith, the 5 marks of mission, instruments of communion, and a process set up to discuss and have dialogue about division.
What is going on now with TEC- Recently, the TEC members on ecumenical councils were asked to step down. This was because we went against a moratorium on ordaining bishops who were partnered. There is a lot of anger from folks in the US, thinking that the archbishop kicked them out, we're not wanted, we're being excluded, etc. (More on this later).
But, that being said, it was neat to see.
ON TO LAMBETH PALACE!!! Ok, I always envisioned Lambeth as being on grassy hills and pastures. Turns out, it's almost right across the river from Big Ben and Parliament! Right there! I had no clue!
But, we went in, got a little tour. Went to the chapel there with seats for all the primates- took a pic of TEC's seal.
THEN. The Big Moment!!
The Archbishop came in to speak to us! We had an hour and a half with him- to ask him anything we wanted. When he walked in, he pointed at a chair and asked if it was for him? I said, sure (like a dork) and we laughed together and said, I just follow where they tell me. Very good sense of humor.
There were some hot item questions- one considering TEC.
When he answered that, he looked at the seminarian and said, you're right, this is extremely hard. And then went on to say more conversation needs to be happening outside of the instruments of communion. Every answer he pointed to scripture and the reason why we do things. He kept talking about relations and keeping in the communion. And that when people feel we are so broken they need to leave, it's disheartening and we're not doing something right.
He was sincere. Honest. And clearly looked affected by what is happening lately. He said he has sleepless nights. Anxieties. And he also said (this has been a recent criticism) he is not the Pope and the covenant does not mean that we want a centralized authority. (It seems people do not want a pope, but they do want someone to blame for their problems, aka rowan).
He talked about his need for silence in God. For his need to do the daily office- morning and evening prayer.
When I spoke with Kathy later, she said, people won't believe you. They won't find you credible that instead of all the divisions you talked about his spiritual practices and he gave advice for ordinands. Yep, that's true. I put a fun status up, and person whom I'm not even close with put something on my wall that was mean spirited.
Yes, I understand people are hurt. But talking with Kathy about the kicking off TEC members, she said it was no surprise. He has been honest and open and we broke a moratorium.
The media is just as biased and opinionated in church matters. And Rowan acknowledged that, saying, I know my name is mud, but we need to keep coming to the table. They are strangers, but we have a common thread, find it. Find out about the other person- for they have gifts from God for you and likewise. And he said he believed when he got to heaven, God will say, where is your brother or sister? How have you related to them?
Wise words for such troubled times.