About 25 people gathered yesterday afternoon at St Deiniol's Library in Northern Wales for the start of the Rebuilding Communion Course. Several authors are presenting draft papers during the conference and listening to the responses of participants. The final papers will be published in book form around May 1 by Monad Press.
Peter Francis, Warden of St. Deiniol's, welcomed participants. He said the library was founded by William Gladstone--who was prime minister of Great Britain four times during the late 19th century, to house his extensive private collection. Peter noted that Gladstone became ever more socially progressive throughout his lifetime and no doubt would approve of his library hosting a conference on lesbian and gay issues within the Anglican Communion.
The first paper, "Lambeth from 1998 to 2008," was presented by Simon Sarmiento--editor of the Thinking Anglicans blog. His review of key events over the past decade or so included...
- The acquittal of Bishop Walter Righter on charges of heresy (before Lambeth 1998) was the beginning of the current struggle in the Anglican Communion on LGBT equality. (This premise is presented in "Anglican Communion in Crisis" by Miranda K. Hassett.)
- Lambeth 1998 resolution 1.10 was heavily amended from the sub-group's original. 526 bishop voted in favor of the resolution, 70 vote against, and 45 abstained. Between 100 and 200 bishops did not vote at all. In response, a pastoral statement was drafted by Michael Hopkins of Integrity. With the assistance of Colin Coward of Changing Attitude, 188 bishops eventually signed the statement--including 9 primates and 4 bishop who became primates. Rowan Williams was among the signatories.
- In the Diocese of New Westminster, the diocesan synod vote 3 times in favor of same-sex blessings before Bishop Michael Ingham consented to allowing them. Approximately 50 couples have been blessed since the policy was implemented.
- Gene Robinson was elected (on the 2nd ballot) and consecrated as the Bishop of New Hampshire in November 2003.
- Civil legislation has made great progress. In December 2003, the UK Employment Equality Regulations were passed. In November 2004, the UK Civil Partnership Act was passed. In July 2005 Canada legalized same-sex marriages. In November 2006 South Africa did the same thing. There was no major political opposition to these laws. For most British, the attitude is, "Some people are gay. Get over it!"
- The "Instruments of Communion" have met and responded to the controversy several times. In October 2003 the primates met at Lambeth Palace. In October 2004 the Windsor Report was released. In February 2005 the primates met in Dromantine, Ireland. In June 2005 the Anglican Consultative Council met in Nottingham. In February 2007 the primates met in Dar es Salaam.
- As discussed in "Following the Money" by Jim Naughton, the controversy has been largely funded by American conservatives.
- Some key conservative documents have included the January 2004 Chapman Report, the March 2004 Barfoot draft proposal for alternative episcopal oversight, the July 2004 interview of Peter Akinola in The Church Times, the September 2006 Church of Nigeria's official support of draconian anti-gay Nigerian legislation, and the August 2007 letter from Peter Akinola that was ghost written by Americans.
- The Anglican Covenant may be sunk. A draft was in Annex 2 of the Windsor Report. "Towards an Anglican Covenant" was released in May 2006 . A preliminary report on the covenant was presented at Dar es Salaam. In April 2007 the Nassau draft was released. Only 13 provincial responses were made--including Lukewarm responses from Ireland, Scotland, Canada, USA, New Zealand, and England. The St. Andrew's draft was recently released. The bishops will discuss and comment upon this draft for 2 days at the Lambeth Conference. A 3rd draft will be presented at ACC-14 in 2009.
- The Windsor Report was firmly against uninvited incursions across provincial boundaries. Rwanda, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya have consecrated bishops outside their provinces. The Southern Cone is attempting to appropriate entire dioceses.
- 14 primates refused to take communion at Dromantine, but only 7 refused at Dar es Salaam. Is this progress.
- A "Global Anglican Futures Conference" will take place before Lambeth--partly in Jordan and partly in Jerusalem. The Bishop of Jerusalem is not happy about the conference being held in his diocese.
- Over 800 bishop have been invited to the Lambeth Conference. 570 have accepted so far. Maybe 600-700 bishops will attend. This is compared to 840 in 1998. (Part of the difference is that assisting bishops are not invited.)