Thinking Anglicans

Lambeth: Monday and the Marketplace

This report about my second visit to Canterbury on Monday has been delayed, mostly because Tuesday, when I was not there, was a much more exciting day, at least for journalists. Whether this is connected to my absence, I do not know.

Anyway, when I went again to the Registration Desk, I was able to obtain the full content of the previously missing Welcome Pack content, namely a paper Campus Map.

Also from a separate IT Desk I was able to get a WiFi login for my own personal use. I have to say that the instructions for using it in conjunction with Windows XP (which is what my laptop runs) are definitely not for the faint-hearted. However, on Monday I was able to connect using the Press Room’s ethernet rather than the WiFi, and so avoided the challenge again.

During the day I attended two press briefings, one conducted by Paul Feheley of Canada and one conducted by Archbishop Phillip Aspinall of Australia. The latter was the one at which the Archbishop of Canterbury answered questions, which have been pretty thoroughly reported elsewhere already. I didn’t understand the logic of his answer about why the Bp of New Hampshire had been excluded, but then neither did most other people I talked to.

The earlier briefing was dominated by complaints from several other journalists, but Bill Bowder in particular, about being excluded from the morning and evening worship in the Big Top. I was personally surprised to discover this was the case as I distinctly recall ten years ago that these sessions were not restricted only to bishops and spouses, and plenty of outsiders attended them on various occasions. No convincing explanation of the need for this restriction has yet been offered.

I also spent time in the Marketplace. Among the exhibitors there were Inclusive Church, and also WATCH, Changing Attitude and LGCM.

LGCM, which is sponsoring the Peterson Toscano shows next week, had several interesting documents available, including this review (PDF) of the book by Phil Groves, which has been mentioned as a major resource for sexuality-related discussions at the conference. Unfortunately, Professor Michael King is not impressed by this book, although he does like a couple of chapters in it. These were not the ones written by his professional colleagues. You can read a much more favourable review of this book here, and another critical comment here. I have still not read most of it, so am reserving judgement. There is also more about the book here.

Speaking of books, I was sorry not to be there today, Wednesday, when Peter Francis, who edited the book Rebuilding Communion to which I contributed a chapter, was due to be the LGCM Guest of the Day.

At the end of the day, I went down to St Stephen’s Church for Evening Prayer. Everyone was welcome to attend this service…


Sudan bishops statement

Updated six times Originally published at 6.27 pm

Full video of entire press conference now available from ENS, see below.

The Bishops of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan have issued a statement, which is copied in full below. In addition, the Primate of ECS held an impromptu press conference in which he stated that the Bishop of New Hampshire should resign.

Jim Naughton has reported on this here, and

Ruth Gledhill has reported on it here. Note this now includes a video of the archbishop’s remarks

Also reported by Marites Sison here.

And by George Conger Lambeth rocked as Archbishop calls on Robinson to resign.

And by Cherie Wetzel here.

Now, reported by Riazat Butt in the Guardian Gay bishop should resign for good of the church, says African archbishop

And by Ruth Gledhill in The Times Sudanese Anglicans demand gay bishop Gene Robinson resigns

And also by Martin Beckford in the Telegraph Gay bishop Gene Robinson ‘must be sacked’ to save church from schism

And Mary Frances Schjonberg for Episcopal News Service has Sudanese primate wants Robinson’s resignation

Note ENS has also has a full video recording of the entire press conference. Find it here. Navigate to the two videos by date: 07/22/08

And on Wednesday morning by Robert Pigott for the BBC Gay bishop Robinson ‘should quit’

And the Daily Mail Dismiss gay bishop, say Third World church leaders

Original Statement of the Bishops of ECS

In view of the present tensions and divisions within the Anglican Communion, and out of deep concern for the unity of the Church, we consider it important to express clearly the position of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS) concerning human sexuality.

We believe that God created humankind in his own image; male and female he created them for the continuation of humankind on earth. Women and men were created as God’s agents and stewards on earth We believe that human sexuality is God’s gift to human beings which is rightly ordered only when expressed within the life-long commitment of marriage between one man and one woman. We require all those in the ministry of the Church to live according to this standard and cannot accept church leaders whose practice is contrary to this.

We reject homosexual practice as contrary to biblical teaching and can accept no place for it within ECS. We strongly oppose developments within the Anglican Church in the USA and Canada in consecrating a practicing homosexual as bishop and in approving a rite for the blessing of same-sex relationships. This has not only caused deep divisions within the Anglican Communion but it has seriously harmed the Church’s witness in Africa and elsewhere, opening the church to ridicule and damaging its credibility in a multi-religious environment.

The unity of the Anglican Communion is of profound significance to us as an expression of our unity within the Body of Christ. It is not something we can treat lightly or allow to be fractured easily. Our unity expresses the essential truth of the Gospel that in Christ we are united across different tribes, cultures and nationalities. We have come to attend the Lambeth Conference, despite the decision of others to stay away, to appeal to the whole Anglican Communion to uphold our unity and to take the necessary steps to safeguard the precious unity of the Church.

Out of love for our brothers and sisters in Christ, we appeal to the Anglican Church in the USA and Canada, to demonstrate real commitment to the requests arising from the Windsor process. In particular:
– To refrain from ordaining practicing homosexuals as bishops or priests
– To refrain from approving rites of blessing for same-sex relationships
– To cease court actions with immediate effect;
– To comply with Resolution 1:10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference
– To respect the authority of the Bible

We believe that such steps are essential for bridging the divisions which have opened up within the Communion.

We affirm our commitment to uphold the four instruments of communion of the Anglican Communion: the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Primates’ Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council; and call upon all Provinces of the Communion to respect these for the sake of the unity and well-being of the Church.

We appeal to this Lambeth Conference to rescue the Anglican Communion from being divided. We pray that God will heal us from the spirit of division. We pray for God’s strength and wisdom so that we might be built up in unity as the Body of Christ.

The Most Revd Dr Daniel Deng Bul
Archbishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan and Bishop of Juba


News from the Big Blue Tent (6)

Think of the conference as a body:

its head in Keynes where the indaba groups meet to reflect; its mouth in the big blue where we gather for worship and plenaries; its feet on the path between Park Wood and the Central Campus (personal best time 12 minutes so far); Its hands in the Marketplace where bishops fondle the latest selection of liturgical garments for all climes; its (rapidly extending) stomach in the Rutherford and Eliot dining halls. But its heart is in the Prayer Place.

Situated just behind Dave Walker’s cartoon tent the Prayer Place is a haven of godly silence amidst all the conversation and business of the programme. It’s a roughly octagonal space one floor above ground level with a large amount of window. There’s a prominent central cross (life size, or do I mean death size?), and several items (icons, an open bible) symmetrically around the walls. There are a few chairs and then an inner and outer circle of prayer stools. It can sit (or kneel) around 50 plus people and does so for early morning prayers (I haven’t made it as far as Night Prayer yet) at 0630 each day. The rest of the time there are no more than a handful of people there, sometimes nobody at all, but somehow it feels as though this is what holds it all together.

Here in the silence (Rowan on the retreat mentioned the ancient church father who believed that a good bishop was a silent bishop) I find God closer than anywhere else. The stools are just the right height to support me in the half lotus position that I find most sustainable for a prolonged period. There’s a board for prayer requests and nobody has filled the air with pseudo celtic rhythms – just silence! When I’ve been engaging with God by engaging at a human level for a few hours it’s wonderful to just go there and engage with him directly, on my own.

Highlight of the day: supper with yet another African bishop who is keen to establish links and not at all put off by the Gafcon stuff.

Lowlight of the day: walking back to Park Wood past a stream of bishops holding hands with their spouses and missing my wife. Maybe I should explore Riazat Butt’s story about the escorts being laid on for lonely bishops, with most requests being for young women at night!


CartoonChurch and the owner of the former SPCK bookshops

Dave Walker of CartoonChurch fame has on several occasions reported on the saga of the former SPCK bookshops, subsequently owned by SSG.

Today he has removed all his blog entries on the subject after receiving a ‘cease and desist’ notice from the owner Mark Brewer. He writes:

I have therefore removed all of the SPCK/SSG posts on this blog, as, although I believe I have not done anything wrong I do not have the money to face a legal battle. The removal of these posts is in no way an admission of guilt.

Read all about it at Cartoon Church. [This post has also now been removed from Dave’s blog.]


Matt Wardman has posted an article about this, see Lambeth Conference Cartoonist in Residence threatened with Legal Action over blog

Wednesday morning update

Bishop Alan Wilson has posted this: SPCK Bookshops — Gags & Gimcrack.

Wednesday midday update

Matt Wardman again with a roundup of other links: My Name is Dave Walker: People posting about Mark Brewer’s Cease and Desist Notice.


Lambeth: some lighter news

Riazat Butt wrote on the Guardian newsblog about Escorts on offer for lonely bishops at Lambeth conference.

This article also mentions the dining hall flow chart, which can be found here.


Pittsburgh changes its URL

The Diocese of Pittsburgh has moved its website to a new URL. Peter Frank writes: To Become Diocese’s New Internet Address

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is in the process of moving its online home to The new address, based on Pittsburgh’s airport code, now is the primary host for the diocesan website and all diocesan staff email accounts.

“We are grateful for the use of our former address,, which has been very kindly loaned to us by the Society of Archbishop Justus for more than a decade. That said, given the diocese’s coming vote on realignment and the decision of the Society earlier this year to take back the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin’s address after it approved a similar vote, it seemed prudent to make this change now,” said the Rev. Peter Frank, director of communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.

An independent non-profit organization that is unaffiliated with any governing structure in the Anglican Communion, the Society of Archbishop Justus has nonetheless hewed closely to the Episcopal Church’s determination of who is officially Anglican in the controversies of recent years. Explaining their decision earlier this year to revoke the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin’s use of, society member Simon Sarmiento stated “We made the change after receiving a specific request to do so from the Chancellor of the Presiding Bishop of the US Episcopal Church.”

“As the sole owner of all ‘’ domain names, including , the Society of Archbishop Justus is, of course, free to take advice from whomever it likes on how to parcel out use of that resource. However, we in Pittsburgh would be foolish not to take note of whom the Society chose to listen to in the case of San Joaquin,” added Frank.

While may continue to direct individuals to the diocesan website for an interim period, the diocese encourages individuals to update their web browsers and email lists to reflect the change. will be our online home for many years to come,” said Frank.


GAFCON's mistake about the Covenant

The briefing paper formerly on the GAFCON website has been removed.

Andrew Goddard explains why this may have happened in this article at Covenant

GAFCON & The Anglican Covenant:

The first and irrefutable conclusion that must be drawn from these two documents is the shocking inadequacy of GAFCON’s theological resource group and wider leadership. To have produced a briefing paper claiming to summarise the changes between the Nassau and St Andrew’s draft covenants but actually comparing the St Andrew’s draft to a quite different document unrelated to the covenant (and which many of the GAFCON team were involved in writing) is an astonishing error. That nobody in the group (or among the GAFCON leadership which released it) realised that the claimed removals from the Nassau draft were therefore all fraudulent suggests an inexcusable level of ignorance about the covenant process on the part of all those involved in writing and then disseminating this briefing paper to the wider Communion. The authorship is unclear but either we have a very small number of people writing what claims to be a representative document commended by seven Primates or we have a large group which failed to spot this basic and serious flaw. I am not sure which of these options is I would prefer to be reality. Unfortunately this all gives the strong impression that the conclusion – “the new document is severely flawed and should be repudiated” – was already decided upon on other grounds.

The second conclusion is that the other response of the same team is therefore seriously discredited, especially if it was put together on the basis of the briefing paper or by people who had seen the briefing paper and not realised its basic error.


Lambeth: Monday press conference

Updated again Tuesday afternoon

There was a press conference today at Canterbury, at which the Archbishop of Canterbury answered questions.

A full audio recording of this can be downloaded from the ACO website, go here.

A video recording of it is available at ENS, go here.
Navigate to the video by date: 07/21/08.

Jim Naughton has posted about it, see Live: ABC meets the press.

I will add links here to further reports about this event.

Anglican Journal Communion not headed for a schism, says Archbishop of Canterbury

BBC ‘Alienation’ over women bishops and also Robert Pigott’s Lambeth diary: Saying sorry

Guardian Riazat Butt Church is not wounded and bleeding, says Williams

Telegraph Martin Beckford Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams: Traditionalists ‘alienated’ by women bishops

Tuesday afternoon

The Times Ruth Gledhill Archbishop confirms church’s anti-gay sex stance


Love Thy Neighbour

Stonewall has issued a report which Ruth Gledhill describes in The Times, see Faith leaders out of touch about gays and also Lambeth Diary: faith people ‘moderate’ on gays.

The Stonewall press release says:

Many faith leaders inadequately reflect their followers’ religious objections to lesbian and gay sexuality, new research has found. Love Thy Neighbour – published today by Stonewall and based on interviews with Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Christian participants from across the north of England – found that many hold significantly more moderate views of homosexuality than is often claimed on their behalf. Participants suggested to researchers from the University of Leeds that when the perceived tension between faith and sexual orientation is discussed in public, the agenda often becomes so dominated by aggression and sensationalism that levels of respect between faith communities and gay communities are overlooked.

Ben Summerskill, Stonewall Chief Executive, said: ‘Witnessing the saddening divisions in the Church of England demonstrated at this week’s Lambeth Conference, it’s telling that so many people of faith say they actually live, work and socialise with lesbian and gay people, and that significantly reduces negative ideas about difference. Many Christians, Jews, Muslims and Hindus are clearly markedly more moderate that we are often allowed to believe. The stark conclusion to draw when it comes to religion and homosexuality is that it may be time to start listening to the voices of the many people of faith in Britain which have until now not been heard enough.’

Interviewees suggested that new legal protections for lesbian and gay people, including civil partnership, have had a ‘civilising effect’ on British society. The increased acceptance of gay people on a national and political level has also had a positive impact on attitudes at a local level, they said. This confirms the findings of Living together, a YouGov survey of 2,000 people published by Stonewall in 2007, which found that 84 per cent of people who identified as religious disagreed with the statement ‘homosexuality is morally unacceptable in all circumstances.’

Ruth has made the full report available here. It’s a 200K PDF.


GAFCON primate never saw the Covenant response

Pat Ashworth interviewed Bishop Greg Venables.

Her report at the Church Times blog is headlined Greg Venables had not seen or agreed the GAFCON Covenant response:

HE WAS diplomatic about it, but it was clearly vexing to the Archbishop of the Southern Cone, Greg Venables, that he had neither seen nor agreed the published response to the St Andrew’s draft Covenant , issued by GAFCON on Friday in his name and those of the Primates of Nigeria, West Africa, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda. None of the other six is present at the conference…

…“If the conservative orthodox group within the Communion is going to come out of this very difficult situation in a way that honours God, it’s going to have to be consulting together, agreed not just on what we believe but prepared to be tolerant and considerate and loving on secondary issues and also committed to talking together and doing things together,” said Bishop Venables.
“If we speak, it’s because we have had dialogue and we have agreed on what we’re saying. The GAFCON statement as it came out of Jerusalem [The Jerusalem Statement and Declaration] was fully agreed on and worked out together – but obviously other things haven’t been followed through in the same consultative, collegial way, which is a great pity.”

…Bishop Venables had agreed the accompanying response to some of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s concerns, a response which, although uncompromising, has a markedly less high-handed tone. Was GAFCON starting from a totally fixed position with no compromise and no leeway, I asked Bishop Venables? “That’s the opposite of what a number of us feel, “he said. “I wouldn’t be here at Lambeth if I didn’t think that God had always got the door open, and if we move towards him then hopefully we would be moving towards each other if we were all sincerely seeking the same thing.”


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.


General Synod – detailed Church Times reports

The detailed reports in the Church Times of the recent Church of England General Synod are now available to non-subscribers.

Index to all reports

The reports on the women bishops debates

Women bishops: debate: ‘I know people say that bishops can’t be trusted, but I think I can’ – reports of the Bishop of Manchester’s preentation on the Friday evening and the take note debate on the Saturday.
Women bishops: the vote – the main debate on Monday 7 July


Lambeth: Monday news reports

Riazat Butt reports on Sunday’s events in the Guardian Church crisis: Simmering dissent, pleas for unity and grass skirts in the aisles as Anglicans meet

Ruth Gledhill reports them in The Times Archbishop of Canterbury says: ‘Now we must work out what is really important’ and Joanna Sugden wrote The shindig begins with nerves and half-naked dancers

George Pitcher in the Telegraph has Bishops boycotting Lambeth Conference ‘are weakening church’s efforts to resolve crisis’

For the BBC Nick Higham asks Will the conference bring communion?

And the Radio 4 breakfast programme Today had Theo Hobson and Nick Baines discussing the conference, go here for the 6 minute segment at 0840.

James Macintyre in the Independent has Bishops back plea for ‘inclusive communion’


Lambeth: Sunday documents

Rowan Williams gave a Presidential Address. For an html copy of the full text it is necessary to go to ENS who have kindly reformatted it here.

The official press release about it is here.

ACNS has however the full text of the Sermon given by the Right Reverend Duleep de Chickera, the Bishop of Colombo at the opening service in Canterbury Cathedral.

The Order of Service is available as a PDF here.


a GAFCON fragment

According to Chris Sugden writing in Evangelicals Now August 2008 edition

Gafcon takes off…. [emphasis added]

…A preparatory Conference for 140 was held in Jordan from June 17. However on June 18 the Jordanian authorities announced that sufficient high level permission had not been granted for the conference to take place. the conference hall was shut and no meeting allowed. At the same time Archbishop Akinola, travelling on his diplomatic passport was denied entry. So on June 19, the 140 people relocated early to Jerusalem. the hotels concerned, in the chain, transferred the costs. A miracle…

This doesn’t seem to have been mentioned anywhere else before.


Lambeth: Sunday newspaper comment

Simon Jenkins in the Sunday Times wrote A broad church with narrow attitudes. Here’s an extract:

…The visible loathing of some Anglicans for gays and women – expressed in terms that would have them prosecuted in any other walk of life – is indefensible. The British make much noise opposing the intolerant practices of Muslims and other imported religions. They seem deaf to the intolerance of members of their home-grown church. That the conservatives have constant recourse to biblical texts has no more to do with the case than if Islamic scholars appealed to the Koran against the Crown Prosecution Service. The law of the land is the law of the land.

No less astonishing is that the parties are largely warring because the Church of England remains stuck in an imperial time warp. A global membership of some 80m – overwhelmingly in the new Commonwealth – is under the leadership of an archbishop in England, custodian of just a million souls, and a governing body meeting in Lambeth.

The origins of this dispute thus lie not so much in the biblical understanding of sexuality but rather in Anglicanism’s inability to handle global diversity in human behaviour. There is no way African cultures will regard sex in the same way as Asians or Europeans. Why does the church pretend otherwise?

This is a relic of the status of the Church of England as the established church in what was once a far-flung empire. It has struggled to mimic the diversity of the British Commonwealth, allowing archbishoprics to flourish and hierarchies to proliferate. But the trappings of doctrinal centralism remain in place.

The obvious solution to the row over gay and women bishops would be to live and let live. Let a thousand sexualities bloom under the capacious canopy of mother church. Do not impose on the cultures of Africa the sexual norms and gender equalities that have evolved under the white Anglo-Saxon Protestant aegis. There is no need for this dispute…

Read it all.


News from the Big Blue Tent (4)

Today we raised queueing to an art form. From joining the queue for the bus to the cathedral at nine o’clock this morning to getting back off the bus at half past two I calculate I spent two hours in worship, half an hour in coach travel and three hours in queues. We queued to get on the coach, queued to get into the cathedral, queued to get out of the cathedral, queued to leave the precincts and queued for the coach to campus. Mercifully the people serving lunch had kindly stayed on way beyond the scheduled time, so we all got fed. But the crux is that these are not like the queues of the desperate outside a shop in some command economy nor the queues of the frustrated praying that a bus will stop. These are the queues of people who know that they will get where they’re going, and, although it will take some while, there’s some fascinating conversation to be had along the way with the strange assortment of people we find stood beside us. Maybe that’s a metaphor for the conference.

The cathedral service itself was splendid, both expectedly and unexpectedly. It was always going to be something special but in two places it excelled itself. The gospel procession, featuring melanesian religious carrying the book in a model boat whilst singing and dancing, will no doubt feature in everyone’s list of images from Lambeth 08. It was stunning. I hope the TV reports have focussed on that rather than processions of prelates. But equally amazing was the sermon preached by the Bishop of Colombo in Sri Lanka. Hardly using notes he reflected on the day’s lectionary gospel (the parable of the wheat and tares) and called us to three things: rigorous self-scrutiny, unity in diversity and prophetic ministry.

Hardly had lunch digested when we assembled in the tent for an explanation of the conference process. It builds on what has been most appreciated in previous conferences – the small bible study groups – and drops what has been least effective. The western pattern of resolutions and amendments is replaced by the indaba groups (5 bible study groups working together) and a robust process for collating the indaba discussions. Its a recipe to allow everyone to speak and be heard, rather than one that favours the politically astute, the most articulate and the accomplished manipulators. When Rowan rose to give a Presidential Address he got no more than a few words out before conference stood spontaneously to give him a prolonged ovation. He was visibly moved. For that matter, so was I.

Highlight of the day: that sermon

Lowlight of the day: hot water supply was dodgy again this morning


Lambeth: BBC radio report

The BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme had a major report on the Lambeth Conference. It includes recorded interviews with Vincent Strudwick, Graham Kings, Norman Doe, Lucy Winkett and Judith Maltby, by Trevor Barnes, and live interviews with Paul Handley and Stephen Bates, by Roger Bolton.

Go to this page, open the link there, and go forward 23 mins 45 secs (URL will not persist after one week).


Lambeth: Saturday and the Welcome Pack

I visited the University of Kent at Canterbury on Saturday.

My main purpose was to give a Media training session to some Americans and Canadians, but before I did that, I wanted to collect my Press credentials and to check in at the Media Centre. I was interested to see if the accommodation there was as dire as Ruth Gledhill had originally reported. I had forgotten how ugly some of the buildings are.

The letter telling me where to go to collect my credentials had said:

Your accreditation pass and welcome pack will be available from the Accreditation Desk in the GRIMOND Building, University of Kent at Canterbury, from the morning of Wednesday, July 16.

While waiting in what turned out to be the wrong queue at the GRIMOND building, I met an English bishop of my acquaintance who, when I explained to him what I had come to do, said he thought the CofE bishops might find a similar session useful. Before you ask, he wasn’t NT Wright.

When I went to the right desk, I got my accreditation pass and blue lanyard quickly enough, and also a very welcome free pass for use in either of two car parks on campus. But when I asked if there was anything else I should receive, I got an emphatic No.

Expecting to receive perhaps at least a paper map of the campus (how minimalist can a Welcome Pack be?), I was a bit surprised but tried not to show it. I asked again, just to make sure. Still No.

So then I asked if other material was to be obtained from the Media Centre. Yes, she said, it was. So off I went to find the Media Centre. Luckily I had written down its location before leaving home.

When you get there, it is indeed up a lot of stairs and down a lot of corridors, and the space allocated for journalists seems extraordinarily small for the huge number of them that have been given accreditation. I was told (I did not see it for myself) that the room to be used for press briefings only seats a few dozen.

But on the other hand, it is much, much closer to the main conference venues than the place used for these purposes in 1998. It was at the other end of the campus, but was a lecture theatre with ample room for everyone to sit. And it had been equipped with CCTV to allow journalists to watch the plenary proceedings from afar. Space for journalists in the tent ten years ago was extremely limited.

Anyway, when I got to the Press Office I found Peter Crumpler, and told him what had happened at the Registration Desk. He rolled his eyes and said: “Didn’t they give you a personal ID and login for the WiFi?” “No”, I said, “they didn’t.” Of course, it hadn’t occurred to me to ask specifically for that, in the absence of absolutely any other paperwork.

I really didn’t want to go all the way back to the other building at that point, so I borrowed a login ID from another journalist and tried to get my laptop connected to the University network. I did succeed eventually, but it was not straightforward. I will start again on that trail on Monday morning.

Before I left the Media Centre, I did get from Peter’s friendly staff a copy of the paper Official Programme & Event Guide, which lists all the separate events in detail and contains lots of useful information. Today, I’m at home perusing the Programme Guide to plan my future visits.

But I still have no idea what else might have been in the Welcome Pack.


Lambeth: more Saturday news

I said earlier that news was scarce yesterday. The Bishop of Durham leapt to the rescue, and gave interviews to all the journalists he could find, who happily quoted him at some length, but apparently didn’t ask any questions.

The longest quotes were in the Telegraph where Jonathan Wynne-Jones wrote Anglican communion a ‘train wreck’, says bishop.

“All sorts of forces have built up over the years in the communion through misunderstanding and people doing things differently without really consulting,” he said.

“Sooner or later this was all going to meet and hit the buffers. It’s been like a slow-moving train wreck.”

The bishop, who is highly respected and a close friend of the Archbishop of Canterbury, told The Sunday Telegraph that the presence of American bishops involved in the consecration of Gene Robinson, the first openly homosexual Anglican bishop, was proving divisive.

“A lot of people here have a lot of questions about why the American bishops are here,” he said. “Those questions are in the room.”

…Bishop Wright said that there was mistrust between the different factions over who was going to make the next significant move. “It’s like a very odd game of cards,” he said. “We’re all being very civil and talking politely, but people are wondering who is going to play which card next and hence what responses may be possible.”

Bishop Wright added that the summit was lacking direction and questioned how effective it would be.

“There’s a sense that we’re all not quite sure where this is going. That’s the mood of the conference. It is gloriously confusing at the moment and slightly worrying in that one has no idea what’s actually going on.”

But he also spoke to either Victoria Combe or Ruth Gledhill who wrote Gay bishop’s ‘row ‘like Iraq war’ for the Sunday Times.

One of the Church of England’s most senior bishops has compared the consecration of a gay bishop in America to the invasion of Iraq.

Tom Wright, the bishop of Durham and the fourth most senior in the English hierarchy, said both events showed Americans were prepared to act “how they please” with disregard for the rest of the world…

…Wright, who represents moderate conservative clerics who, rather than schism, want provision within the church for conservatives opposed to gay clergy and women bishops, said: “George Bush said he was going to invade Iraq. Everyone told him not to because there would be consequences, but he did it anyway.

“The Americans floated the balloon in 2003 when they consecrated Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire. They knew exactly what they were doing then and they know exactly what they are doing now. They knew it would be unacceptable to the majority of the Communion. They are doing exactly as they please.”

He continued: “Either the rest of the world caves in or someone has to stand up to them.”

And he spoke to Riazat Butt whose article for the Guardian was mainly about Church of England unrest threatens to harm links with Vatican.

As a consequence of all this Jim Naughton had a dream nightmare of an interview with Bishop Wright, as reported at Live: a lesson in moral reasoning on the Episcopal Café.