Monday, 21 July 2008

News from the Big Blue Tent (5)

With the daily bible study groups and the first two rounds of indaba meetings adding up to something more than 5 hours, today has been a day of much active engagement in conversation. This complex system of study group, indaba, self-select sessions, hearings, listeners, rapporteurs, facilitators and (eventually) groups to draft texts for exposure is scary because it’s untested. But, as Rowan reminded us yesterday, the traditional method of resolutions, amendments and votes hasn’t exactly served us well in the past. Not least because virtually no resolution has ever led on into action! It seems like the great majority are prepared to trust the process, but recognise that we need to work it and own it to ensure that it delivers.

Indaba is not simply 40 people sitting in a circle and talking in plenary for two hours. Most of the time we have been working in smaller groups (of size 1,3,5,10 so far in mine) and then sharing the essence of the conversation with the wider group. The tricky issues are being flagged and discussed, but they are arising in a context and from a developing relationship of collegiality and charity rather than simply being hurled across a divide wrapped round large bricks. Indeed, the people who have most to fear from this relational and contextual method of working are the lobbyists and pressure groups who would dearly love to control the conference from outside. At some point I expect they will try to break the communion we are establishing. Will we be firm enough to resist it? Pray for us!

Today we completed our guests’ initiation into British culture. Having introduced them to the queue we have now added that quintessential, the blocked footpath and hole in the road with accompanying ear-piercing mechanical digger. Another conference has just arrived on site - a group of people doing a two week EFL course. Distinguishable by their lack of badges (with or without lanyards of appropriate colour) they are wandering about a campus full of bishops looking rather more perplexed than the ubiquitous and conference-hardened rabbits.

Highlight of the day: During the Eucharist a Japanese bishop came to the platform to apologise to his Korean colleagues for the past mistreatment of their country by his.

Lowlight of the day: Discovering that there was indeed to be a provincial meeting in the only gap in today’s schedule, and discovering too early to have an excuse to miss it.

Posted by David Walker on Monday, 21 July 2008 at 9:23pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Big Blue Tent | Lambeth Conference 2008

What is an EFL course?

Posted by: Ann on Monday, 21 July 2008 at 10:32pm BST

English as a Foreign Language

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 21 July 2008 at 10:49pm BST

Best wishes for your conference. Sorry to hear about all the controversy. Your organization is one of the few human institutions I actually respect.

Posted by: Dudley M. Jones on Tuesday, 22 July 2008 at 12:59am BST

Now I'm even more confused. As an ordinary American Episcopalian currently living in a working class suburban neighborhood closer to the Everglades than to Miami, I first thought that in the English Church, EFL was something like "Education for Liturgy". I'm enrolled in Sewanee's EFM course--Education for Ministry--which goes on a lot longer (4 yrs) but I thought that perhaps you all have shorter workshops on liturgy. (Believe me, the past few weeks, starting with your General Synod, have been a real eye-opener on all the things I don't know about England and its Church, but I am infinitely grateful for the chance to learn more).
Similarly, when I read "English as a Foreign Language", I immediately translated EFL to ESL, or English as a Second Language, which is our name for courses to teach English to people whose first language isn't English. (Most often, it's Spanish-speakers, but when I lived in LA, there was a middle school in the mid-Wiltshire district doing this in 71 languages and dialects including Tagalog, Farsi and Hmong.) Then I thought about it some more. English as a Foreign Language? Here, Southerners could teach it to Bostonians and as for Noo Yawkers (of which I am one) . . . . let alone you all and us. So, is EFL what I think of as ESL? If not, please what is it?
PS Thanks to Bishop Walker!!! I've come to wait for your posts. Please write some more!

Posted by: Jersey Haracz on Tuesday, 22 July 2008 at 2:42am BST

As I understand it, ESL here is used when English is taught in the context of a known second language; so the teacher and pupils have an existing language in common which can be used to explain points of grammar etc. EFL assumes no common language at all, so teaching has to be from scratch, entirely in the target language.

Posted by: Karen Spray on Tuesday, 22 July 2008 at 9:23am BST

This sounds incredibly encouraging.
Almost an "if you don't come to the listening process, the listening process will come to you", and I am delighted by the clear sense of bishops growing together in trust and understanding.

If this system really proves to work, can we devolve it to the running of all levels of our churches?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 22 July 2008 at 9:28am BST
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