The official account of the opening session is on ACNS and is imaginatively titled The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams opens the Lambeth Conference.
From this we learn the important fact that:
Some Bishops have chosen to stay away although only one Province (Uganda) has no Bishops present.
Dave Walker who was actually and corporeally present at the session has a guarded account on the Church Times blog at The opening session of the Lambeth Conference.
His first batch of cartoons are now available here.
The view from the press room is rather different, see Ruth Gledhill’s blog post titled Lambeth Diary: the ‘Clean and the Unclean’, although I fancy the picture of Bishop Martyn Minns was not taken yesterday. She writes:
…Read and believe if you like the official stuff trickling in a tightly-controlled way out of Jim Rosenthal’s entirely independent press operation operating from a place I’ve yet to track down somewhere on the university campus. This is where the ‘on side’ ‘journalists’, many of whom seem by coincidence to wear episcopal clerical collars, are permitted to hang out. I am sure the citizens of the former USSR were similarly enlightened by what Pravda produced on a daily basis. The real operation, the concrete prison where proper journalists do their work, is being run by the staff from Church House. Peter Crumpler and his minions, themselves shut away in an even more terrible bleak hole of a broom cupboard than our own, are brilliant. (Update: Incredibly, TEC might be coming to our rescue. A series of unofficial bishop briefings is to be organised, beginning this evening. I’ve been asked to make clear that these are nothing at all to do with the official Lambeth press operation.)
There’s nothing like a Lambeth Conference or two to swing me back into the conservative camp. Here I am, separated from the leaders of the Anglican Communion, of which I happen to be a covenanting member, by a ten foot wall. I’ve helped pay for this! Oh it makes me so cross.
Ok then, it’s not a wall, merely a security fence. And it’s probably closer to eight feet than 10, a closer inspection today has established. It comes complete with security guards. The wire lacks barbs but I’ll try and supply those. I guess David Virtue, George Conger and Riazat Butt and I, all equal in our exclusion, are the ‘terrorists’. I’m telling them, a three-foot fence of hurdles, or even a green line made of ribbon, would have been enough. Or even, they could have just asked us not to go in the Big Blue Top. But no. Forget simple human means of exchange. The staff running the Anglican Communion Office have moved beyond that. They’re probably wearing bomb-proof vests under their copes in case my pen is loaded with a bullet. Pathetic.
George Conger has an account of the day, and his own comments on the environment for the press at Religious Intelligence in Lambeth Conference: ‘Efforts must be made to preserve integrity of Church’:
…Bishops began arriving on Wednesday on the campus of the University of Kent situated on a hill to the south of Canterbury, with lines snaking across the campus as the bishops registered for the conference and were assigned dormitory rooms. A corps of yellow-sashed volunteers ranging in age from university students to elderly clergy escorted the new arrivals to their assigned rooms, while also enthusiastically patrolling the boundaries of the plenary areas —- keeping the press and on-lookers on the far side of a 10-foot high chain link fence.
Participants in the Conference have been divided into castes denoted by the color of the lanyard holding their name tag, with the freedom to roam determined by one’s colour. Bishops and their spouses wear purple, volunteers yellow, exhibitors at the Marketplace —- the venue for shops and special interest groups wear white, the press blue and conference staff red.
“Red is home, blue away” the bishops were told in the closed evening session that outlined the mechanics of the conference in between bouts of hymn singing, with the bishops cautioned to be careful in what they say to “outsiders.”
In other news about Wednesday, I had lunch with Jim Naughton who has told you all about it here. As he reveals, I shall be in Canterbury for the first time on Saturday, and will give you my own on-the-scene report after that.