Thursday, 10 June 2010

USPG conference reports

Updated again Friday afternoon

Two items from the Swanwick conference:

Bishop Katharine calls on Anglicans to ‘speak truth to power’

The presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church in the US has called on Anglicans to help defeat injustice and human suffering.

Speaking at the USPG Annual Conference yesterday, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said ‘missional partnerships, whether Anglican, Christian or inter faith’ were essential for building a worldwide ‘community of peace and justice’.

Thabo Makgoba Addressing Anglican Differences - Spirit and Culture at the Foot of the Cross

‘Jesus Christ is the standard for discerning the path between authentic cultural expression and flawed syncretism, between ensuring we do not quench the Spirit and yet properly testing what we believe may be the Spirit’s leading’ said Archbishop Thabo Makgoba. He was addressing the USPG Annual Conference in Swanwick, England, on ‘Mission Realities for Southern African Anglicans – and their Wider Implications’.

Follow the link above and scroll down for the full text of his address. Here is one extract:

I am convinced that in our current situation within the Communion neither have we done, nor are we continuing to do, enough of this sort of listening to one another. We do not understand one another and one another’s contexts well enough, and we are not sufficiently sensitive to one another in the way we act. Autonomy has gone too far. I do not mean that we should seek a greater uniformity – I hope it is clear I am saying nothing of the sort. But we risk acting in ways that are so independent of one another that it becomes hard for us, and for outsiders, to recognise either a committed interdependent mutuality or a common Christian, Anglican, DNA running through our appropriately contextualised and differentiated ways of being.

Bishop Katharine, what I am going to say next is painful to me, and I fear it may also be to you – but I would rather say it to your face, than behind your back. And I shall be ready to hear from you also, for I cannot preach listening without doing listening. It sometimes seems to me that, though many have failed to listen adequately to the Spirit at work within The Episcopal Church, at the same time within your Province there has not been enough listening to the rest of the Anglican Communion. I had hoped that those of your Bishops who were at the Lambeth Conference would have grasped how sore and tender our common life is. I had hoped that even those who, after long reflection, are convinced that there is a case for the consecration of individuals in same sex partnerships, might nonetheless have seen how unhelpful it would be to the rest of us, for you to proceed as you have done.

There are times when it seems that your Province, or some within it, despite voicing concern for the rest of us, can nonetheless act in ways that communicate a measure of uncaring at the consequent difficulties for us. And such apparent lack of care for us increases the distress we feel. Much as we understand that you are in all sincerity attempting to discern the best way forward within your own mission context, we ask you to be sensitive to the rest of us.

Let me immediately add that, if there were certain others here, I would speak to them equally frankly. Cross border visitations and other moratoria violations have undermined not only your polity, but wider attempts to handle disagreements in a godly way before the face of the watching world. I will also add that, outside the scope of the moratoria, there are too many other shameful and painful ways that ‘gracious restraint’ has not been exercised by various different individuals and groups from all manner of perspectives. These too destructively exacerbate our attempts to live truly as a Communion, and contribute to the way that disagreements over human sexuality and its handling have come to dominate the life of the Anglican Communion to a disproportionate and debilitating extent. When I am interviewed, when I participate in radio phone-ins, no matter what the ostensible topic, again and again I find myself derailed by questions on this. I have to say this undermines our witness; dissipates energies that ought to be spent on the true priorities of mission; and distorts the focus and agenda of the Communion’s common life to an increasingly detrimental degree.

Updates

ENS has a report, ‘Witnessing to Christ Today’: Presiding bishop, Southern Africa primate address USPG conference.

This has links to videos as well:

Video: Presiding bishop addresses USPG on ‘Witnessing to Christ Today’
[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori delivers a keynote address June 9 on the theme “Witnessing to Christ Today,” during the annual meeting of USPG-Anglicans in World Mission in Swanwick, England.

Video: Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba addresses USPG conference
[Episcopal News Service] Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba delivers a keynote address June 10 as part of the USPG-Anglicans in World Mission annual conference. Makgoba speaks on the theme “Mission Realities for Southern African Anglicans — and their wider implications.

Video: USPG panel tackles issues concerning mission, Anglican identity, human sexuality, environment
[Episcopal News Service] Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba and Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori join the Rev. Mark Oxbrow, international director of the Faith2Share network, for a panel discussion June 9 that focuses on issues of local and global mission, Anglican identity, human sexuality and environmental concerns. The discussion was held during the USPG-Anglicans in World Mission annual conference in Swanwick, England.

Colin Coward reports, Thabo Makgoba and Katharine Jefferts Schori model the possibility of creative dialogue at the USPG Conference.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 10 June 2010 at 4:54pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | Church of England | ECUSA
Comments

Archbishop Thabo is being what Pope Rowan is trying (and failing) to be - an honest broker dedicated to maintaining the unity of the Communion as far as possible. And unlike Pope Rowan, Archbishop Thabo isn't afraid to talk to Presiding Bishop Katharine's face.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Thursday, 10 June 2010 at 6:56pm BST

TEC just doesn't see that all these heterosexual Anglicans in Africa are hurting

because TEC is acting to end the oppression of lgbt people.

What is Thabo thinking of ?

Posted by: Pantycelyn on Thursday, 10 June 2010 at 8:11pm BST

TMs remarks are most welcome, as he simultaneously lays bare the listening which is now mostly lost in the power plays, as well as the glaring failure of holy nerve and holy imagination which plagues the traditional Anglican views on queer folks as humans/believers.

How much better for us all, if RW had used listening as the basis for his Pentecost bull, instead of turning to policing/punishing?

How much better for us all if all the conservative-traditional Anglicans could get over their closed legacy presumption that hot buttons and controversies involving queer folks are best solved via competing theories/hermeneutics, instead of having prayerful intimacy with the daily life and persons of the patient/thriving queer folks so typically being scapegoated and dissed?

If listening is really of the Spirit, we will still find ways to listen, even when RW and other brash leaders wish to police or punish instead of listening. Really ironic, now, that RW declares TEC (and Canada?) as outsiders, so suddenly ripe for just the sort of respectful interfaith and ecumenical listening to which neither set of Anglicans is automatically entitled as member churches/provinces?

The real daily lives of real thriving queer folks will persist ... revealing the fruits of spirit mentioned in the much neglected brief (To Set Our Hopes On Christ) as well as brought forward by so much else that fails to get noticed in the present power mongering. PS, dear RW, what ever will you do, given the fact that more same sex blessings are happening under the official Lambeth Palace radar in UK, than anywhere else on the planet including North America? Are you dutifully kicking Brits right off those ecumenical talking commissions?

Posted by: drdanfee on Thursday, 10 June 2010 at 8:25pm BST

"Primate Katherine and Archbishop Thabo have restored my confidence in the possibility of the Communion weathering the current storm and emerging with changing attitudes inspired with a more radical commitment to the Christian gospel."

- Colin Coward: Changing Attitudes -

I am heartened by Colin's remarks here - about the way in which both Bishop Katharine of TEC and Archbishop Thabo of the South African Provincial Church were able to contribute to the dialogue on Communion relationships and missional convergence.
These two outstanding Church Leaders provide a substantial counterpoint to the culture of static
policies in the Communion which have militated against the open discussion of sexuality, and its impacts upon the Church and the world.

The forward-looking culture of emancipation of the LGBT community, being exercised by the South African and North American Provinces of the Anglican Communion, can now be seen and perhaps better understood by USPG and the other missionary agencies, as the only way to deal with the deeply-rooted homophobia and misogyny of the former colonial situations of Anglicanism. Thank God for the opportunity for actual discussion of issues which have benighted the mission of the Church for many decades of its existence.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 11 June 2010 at 1:00am BST

I'm afraid I don't see anything helpful in Thabo Makgoba's rebuke, either.

It is the same call to sacrifice what is right for what is expedient. It "derails" other churches? Are they that weak in their leadership - even the church that gave us Desmond Tutu? The "communion" is so "sore" that this issue is insurmountable? Of what value is such a weak bond?

There is a great talk of the "difficulties" for other provinces, but evidence of little else than the same navel-gazing of which TEC is accused. TEC is, I fear, paying the price for nothing more than being the church in the United States; a relatively small demographic in the USA's religious life being held accountable for all the sins of the nation - Bush has eaten sour grapes, and TEC's teeth are set on edge.

If TEC becomes isolationist and cut off, it's "friends" will have only themselves to blame.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Friday, 11 June 2010 at 5:17am BST

+TM: "There are times when it seems that your Province...can nonetheless act in ways that communicate a measure of uncaring at the consequent difficulties for us. And such apparent lack of care for us increases the distress we feel...we ask you to be sensitive to the rest of us."

Archbishop Makgoba is sincerely trying to speak openly and honestly about the feelings of many Primates and bishops in the Communion. With respect, what I hear him saying is that it is basically about them, their "distress" and our lack of sensitivity to them. No doubt our actions in TEC are causing many in the Communion significant distress.

But how does the "distress" of the leadership of the various Churches compare to the awful suffering of LGBT persons in all parts of the world? The bullying and suicides of children and youth? The disowning by one's own family? The fear of public shaming and loss of employment? The great difficulty in having a loving relationship in the face of the relentless opposition of government and Church? The imprisonments? The murders?

I do not mean to suggest that Archbishop Makgoba is among those who seem not to care about these matters. But, at what point does a Church stand up against this sin of homophobia? When all are comfortable with our action? This movement by TEC is not just about honoring the episcopal suitablility of Mary Glasspool. As is clear from +Katherine's statement, our stand for the lives and the rights of LGBT persons is part of our Gospel vision of a world being reconciled in Christ. Is there no room for prophecy in the Anglican Communion? Who did not experience distress at the hands of Jeremiah, or more importantly, Jesus?

I think that if Jesus had taken the archbishop's advice, he would have stayed home in Capernaum. No lepers would have ben touched and healed. No children lovingly blessed. No woman from the street praised for her trust in him and her grief for him. No eunuchs praised as models of those living for the reign of God. No tax collectors redeemed. Nobody saved actually. The religious and political leaders of his time and placed were so distressed they scapegoated and killed him.

Our work in TEC is to stop this same thing from happening to more LGBT persons.

Posted by: karen macqueen+ on Friday, 11 June 2010 at 5:53am BST

I think we westerners need to understand the basic difference between our own cultural situation and that of the African Churches. Archbishop Makgoba is a lone voice in the African Continent, who is at least prepared to challenge the intstitutional homophobia of some of his fellow Church Leaders in Africa - at grave risk of alienation from those of his own culture and background. He deserves our empathy and patience, at least.

If people care to look in on the videos available of the interviews with Archbishop Makgoba and TEC Bishop Katharine at the USPG meetings in the U.K., I think you might be agreeably surprised at the wonderful sense of convergence on missionary strategy that has been teased out between them. There is no doubt that Archbishop Tutu's successor in Capetown is intent on helping to break the deadlock against emancipation in the African Provinces of our Church. Give him time.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 11 June 2010 at 10:38am BST

Don't forget Archbishop Makgoba and his bishops also spoke out clearly against the imprisonment of Stephen Monjeza and Tiwonge in Malawi. See - http://archbishop.anglicanchurchsa.org/2010/05/imprisonment-of-stephen-monjeza-and.html

Posted by: Sarah RJ on Friday, 11 June 2010 at 12:03pm BST
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