Friday has been like Thursday, only more so. Once again the bulk of the day has been spent at the cathedral, listening to Rowan, praying and quietly getting to know one another. In the Bible Study Groups we’re getting to a deeper level of engagement and beginning to touch on areas that we can’t simply agree as platitudes. It’s still early but the process seems to be doing what it was set up to do. As Rowan explained, we’re modelling what it is to be a cell of the Body of Christ; that doesn’t promise to resolve all disputes, but we won’t get far without it (what in my mathematician days we called a “necessary” as opposed to “sufficient” condition).
In the dining halls as well as the formal sessions there is a good mixing of traditions and stances – it doesn’t appear that many are seeking the comfort of the likeminded. Today I’ve talked with bishops from Tanzania, Canada, West Indies, USA, India, New Zealand, Eire and the UK.
The security looks big because to cordon off an outdoor area (the surrounds of the big blue) you need a lot of fencing, but it’s no more than I’m used to when I attend secular voluntary sector conferences for which participants have had to pay fees. Delegates get in, others don’t. We wouldn’t want the press in the bible studies or indabas either, but there it will be more discreet because it’s all indoors. The media have a pretty free run of much of the rest of the site. This is hardly going to be a conference that maintains a high level of secrecy, but we do have the right to do our business in a manner that allows (encourages) us all to feel able to open up to one another.
Highlight of the day: being given an invite to a drinks party hosted by Jack Iker tomorrow. Perhaps this really is engagement across the fault-lines. I felt touched, honoured, and minded to go listen.
Lowlight of the day: 2 minutes later being told the invites were only meant to be given to “sympathetic” bishops. But hey, I do sympathy really well, perhaps I am invited after all.