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.