Sunday, August 3, 2008

Press Release

3 August 2008

FINAL INTEGRITY STATEMENT FROM LAMBETH CONFERENCE 2008: The coup d'état has failed. It's time to get on with the Kingdom.

CANTERBURY, UK—In spite of extraordinary pressure to do otherwise, the Archbishop of Canterbury has managed to achieve his stated goal of a Lambeth Conference of reflection rather than resolutions. The long predicted coup d'état that was going to emerge from this Lambeth Conference and vote the Americans and Canadians out of the Anglican Communion failed to materialize. There is much to be grateful for in that.

In his July 29th presidential address, Rowan Williams clearly set the theological and biblical perspectives of those who embrace an inclusive gospel within the container of Anglican comprehensiveness. That in itself is a tremendous step forward for the Anglican Communion. It should signal that it is time for the conversations to cease about whether those who hold an inclusive perspective are still Anglicans—much less Christians. It is time to move on to how we, as a diverse community of faith, are going to move forward in God's mission in spite of our differences.

The 43-page "Lambeth Indaba: Capturing Conversations and Reflections" provides a snapshot of the diversity of opinion and perspective held throughout the global communion and resists the temptation to offer—much less insist—on the means to reconcile the differences that challenge us. We call on our bishops to resist the temptation of those who will try to turn this descriptive document into a proscriptive edict.

This is particularly critical in the language around moratoria. The inclusion in this set of descriptions of the conversations in the bishops' Indaba groups of the "desire to enforce a moratoria" on further consecrations of bishops who are gay or lesbian and on the blessing and celebration of same-sex unions is an accurate reflection of how some in the Anglican Communion would prefer we moved forward.

So is the reflection about "the positive effects in parts of [the Communion] when homosexual people are accepted as God's children, are treated with dignity and choose to give their lives to Christ and to live in the community of faith as disciples of Jesus Christ with fidelity and commitment."

And, while the Archbishop of Canterbury in his concluding address expressed his own preference for moratoria as a way forward, we are reminded that we are, as Anglicans, bound together in bonds of affection rather than authority. We believe we are called to find that way forward, not only within the bonds of affection to our Anglican siblings, but within the parameters of the polity and practice of an Episcopal Church forged in the crucible of the American Revolution.

With Lambeth Conference 2008 and the failed coup d'état behind us, Integrity calls on our bishops to lead us all forward in faith and in God's mission: to bring good news to the poor, release to the captives, and to let the oppressed go free.

We challenge them to partner with the House of Deputies to break the cycle of being bullied into bigotry and distracted from mission and ministry by those who would exclude us because of our commitment to the full inclusion of all the baptized in the Body of Christ. We look forward to General Convention 2009 and the opportunities we will have there to move the church further forward on the journey toward full inclusion.

We pray that our bishops will build on the relationships they have developed here in Canterbury with bishops from around the Communion to enable the witness of the Good News of God in Christ Jesus made present in the lives, relationships and vocations of LGBT Episcopalians to be shared more widely throughout our Anglican family of faith. We stand ready to resource and support that work going forward.

We remind our bishops that we cannot live up to our baptismal vows to respect the dignity of every human being if we tell some of them that they are good enough to arrange our flowers, play our organs, direct our choirs, teach our Sunday Schools, and lead our worship—but not good enough to have their vocations affirmed and their relationships blessed. There is nothing "generous" about asking the LGBT faithful to bear the burden of unity of the Anglican Communion on their shoulders and there is no theological defense for sacrificing a minority of the baptized to the will of a majority.

We give thanks for the extraordinary privilege it has been to be part of the cloud of witnesses who have offered to this Lambeth Conference incarnational opportunities to engage with brother and sister Anglicans from all over the globe. We pray that our witness, along with our Inclusive Church Network allies, will continue to grow as we partner together to proclaim God's justice and to live God's love.

Finally, we recognize with deep regret that the exclusion of the Bishop of New Hampshire from this gathering of his peer bishops in the Church of God has sent a signal to LGBT people around the world that the Anglican Communion still considers them "strangers at the gate." We commit ourselves to continue in the struggle until our church and our Communion live up to the high calling to be the Body of Christ in the world where all members are truly welcome, valued, loved, included, and challenged.


Press contact in the UK:
Louise Brooks, Senior Press Officer, +44 (0)7503 695 579,

Press contact in the USA:
Jan Adam, Field Organizer, +1-415-378-2050,


Martin Reynolds said...

“The long predicted coup d'état that was going to emerge from this Lambeth Conference and vote the Americans and Canadians out of the Anglican Communion failed to materialize. There is much to be grateful for in that."

There would indeed be much to grateful for. But I do not recall any such plot - and with North America's main detractors staying away - any such coup would surely have failed. Not that a Lambeth Conference has the authority to vote anyone out in the first place.

Here we are offered a positive view on what happened, compared to the disaster that MIGHT have happened - so that the mighty step back that DID happen is perhaps meant to be made more palatable?

This technique I last saw employed by progressive groups responding to the Dar es Salaam Communiqué. I think then we were told then how wonderful this document was compared to what those naughty conservatives had WANTED in the final draft …. The Dar es Salaam Communiqué was (and remains) an unmitigated disaster but I remember liberal observers at the time like MP Ben Bradshaw being completely wrong footed by this reportage.

Anyone reading this piece will be quite misled. I do not think that wise, even if it is a strategy that has worked in the past. There has been no inching forward – our cause is in retreat and it would seem to me that the failure to recognise this fact means it is also in disarray.


Martin .. thanks for taking time to write.

I disagree. I do not believe we "are in retreat" and while, as I've noted in a variety of places "not as bad as '98 does not the Kingdom make" there were still positive things that happened at Lambeth Conference and I believe we need to name them as we move forward.

I do want to note that this release was written before the ABofC's final press conference ... which I've commented on elsewhere ... wherein I believe he snatched a defeat out of the jaws of a victory that was in his grasp.


Onward we go ...

Martin Reynolds said...

Susan, so kind of you to reply in person, it’s so long since I heard from you.

I am saying this piece was more than just premature – I am saying its buoyancy was founded on something quite fantastic, and was I say deeply unhelpful.

I certainly read what you wrote later – and agree with your comments there.

The plan has never been to expel the North American Churches at Lambeth or elsewhere.

The plan has been to divide - encouraging “Windsor bishops” and other groups and create a deepening sense of crisis by fostering disharmony – then, through the Covenant to force those who will not “comply” with Windsor into an inferior status while those TEC diocese that want to engage with the Covenant will do so – causing even more fractures.

I see that the constitutions of several (mostly liberal) Churches within the Anglican Communion will allow individual diocese or Provinces to make commitments to the Covenant and the ground has already been prepared for this to be negotiated in this way by Lambeth. One can see that this might well critically destabilise some Churches and we may well see new structures developing here too.

In my view Rowan has not snatched defeat from the jaws of victory – he has been unbelievably consistent, following the process laid out in the Windsor Report – the only divergence being to remit the severe judgment on those Primates intervening in North America – otherwise he has not wavered from that course and his private briefings have done nothing to encourage any other thought.

Gene’s isolation and humiliation continues and increases even within his own House of Bishops – he grows braver and bolder as a result and deserves increasing admiration and prayer.

“there were still positive things …”
The manager of Lambeth 1998, Bob McCloskey shared on Thinking Anglicans that ten years ago he had been ordered to keep liberal groups out – this time several progressive groups paid through the nose to be there in the Marketplace – I suppose this might be seen as progress – though some might think it rather a cleaver wheeze to get gays to pay very considerable rents into the coffers of Lambeth to watch as they cut our throats ……

Of course we may and must move forward but I say the ground has shifted beneath us, and continues to shift backwards – it will be hard to even keep pace with this ….