Tuesday morning was one of the few sessions we spent together with the Spouses Conference. We had a Bible Study on 2 Samuel 13--the story of Amnon's rape of his sister Tamar. This led to a discussion of sexual abuse and domestic violence as well as the Church's proper role in standing up for victims and creating safe places. I cannot comment in any extensive way on the whole process because my experience is limited to my small group of four. I can say that in many parts of the world, women are not safe. Because of that, the Church needs to be an advocate, a witness, and an agent of transformation.
In the evening we heard the second Presidential Address by Archbishop Rowan Williams. It was unusually direct. You can read the entire text on the Lambeth website (www.lambethconference.org).
Let me say what I appreciated about the address. He began by offering his hope "We speak from the centre.... I mean that we should try to speak from the heart of our identity as Anglicans; and ultimately from that deepest centre which is our awareness of living in and as the Body of Christ."
I could not agree more. The center isn't the middle of political views but it is the deep place where we discover our communion with Christ and therefore with one another. In these large meetings, the temptation is to speak from our ideological edge. One advantage of such a long meeting is to create relationships to speak from somewhere else.
I also appreciated the Archbishop's attempt to describe what both "sides" have to lose in coming a resolution. It is true that we all have fears about any new proposal and it is true that often it is easier to hold on to our clearly defined positions instead of stepping out into a new place in trust and faith.
Finally, I appreciate that our work really is reconciliation because Jesus' prayer is that we be One even as He and the Father are One. I appreciate his final question very much: ‘Having heard the other person, the other group, as fully and fairly as I can, what generous initiative can I take to break through into a new and transformed relation of communion in Christ?’
I have some issues with his characterization of the position of "not so traditional believer." I resist that term, and I found his description of that position incomplete. I also think there are more than two sides to this issue and certainly there are more dynamics at play. There is more than a theological difference going on.
However, I agree that as a Church we are called to make "generous initiatives" and I too long for "a new transformed relation of communion in Christ." The question is whether the Covenant, as eventually revised will give us that. It is clear that while we will have many talks about the proposed document, our role is to give input to the Anglican Consultative Council. I would anticipate most of the conversation to center around the Appendix. At this point, I am ready to listen to other perspectives and to offer them my sense of what it means to be in a Communion with 38 very diverse provinces, and discuss how a Covenant and especially the proposed Covenant is or is not true to the nature of Anglicanism.
We will spend much of the remaining time on these issues.
Keep us in your prayers as I keep you in mine.