Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I have just come from a specially scheduled session billed as a time to think concretely about “moving forward.” It was clear there is absolutely no consensus as to how we are to do that – or even what it means.
HOWEVER, I think a few things can be said at this point. At least, these are my impressions.
First, positions taken ten years ago have not significantly changed. The great majority of the Bishops here would still agree with Lambeth 1:10, and indeed, the Archbishop of Canterbury was very clear in repeatedly saying, “We are not here to revisit Lambeth 1:10; it is the position of the Communion.” At the same time, there is a strong minority position, held not only in the US and Canada, but by some in nearly every part of the Communion, that believes it is a justice matter, a “gospel imperative” to work for the “full inclusion” of all people, particularly “LGBTs”.
But secondly, the atmosphere in which those differences are held is vastly different than it was a decade ago. Today, in some of the Indaba groups there was a real willingness to listen to and appreciate the convictions of those holding opposite views on issues of human sexuality. (This, I think, was true of those who worked together in the sub-section on Sexuality last time; but it certainly was anything but true of the Conference as a whole.)
Thirdly, there is no question that those who are here care deeply, even passionately, about the Anglican Communion. They want it to continue, to be healed and robust, and they want to be part of it.
Some will say, “Yes they want to be part of it so long as they can be part of it on their own terms.” And there is an element of truth in that, for “their own terms” are positions held tenaciously by all sides.
Most of the GAFCON folks have stayed away. My sense is that most of them – not all, thank God – have given up on the Communion, and they are working toward a “new ecclesial structure.” But those who are here do not see that as a Communion solution; it will be another basically protestant denomination (or denominations) with quasi-catholic ceremonial.
Those who are here are wrestling with the Archbishop’s pointed question of two nights ago: “What sacrifices are you willing to make for the good of the Communion?”
Two days to go, and then the wrap-up on Sunday. It has been a very long nearly-three weeks. Don’t stop praying.
Warmest regards in our Lord,
–(The Right Rev.) John W. Howe is Bishop of Central Florida