Thursday, February 15, 2007

George Conger reports on Thursday in Tanzania

Here is the Revd George Conger's latest report from Tanzania for the Living Church.

Cordial Day of Listening Marks Opening Sessions in Tanzania

An opening-day impasse was averted after pre-meeting negotiations led to a relaxation of demands from the Global South primates’ coalition that the question of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s attendance at the meeting be the first order of business during their meeting in Tanzania.

In what was described by Australian Archbishop Phillip Aspinall as a “day of intense listening” characterized by “graciousness, patience and care,” the primates gathered at a hotel near Dar es Salaam heard an address by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, received a report from an advisory group appointed by the joint standing committee of the primates and Anglican Consultative Council on The Episcopal Church’s response to the Windsor Report, and heard presentations from three American bishops and Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori.

In his opening remarks, described as “moving” by one listener, Archbishop Williams welcomed the primates and spoke to the importance of their work and collegiality. He also spoke to his great affection for The Episcopal Church.

The Archbishop of Canterbury recounted his experiences on Sept. 11, 2001 when he and other Episcopalians at Trinity Church Wall Street in lower Manhattan were trapped for a number of hours by the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers. This experience had given Archbishop Williams a deep affection for the United States and The Episcopal Church and had led to a bonding with the people with whom he shared the day’s experiences.

The primates heard a presentation on The Episcopal Church’s response to the Windsor Report. In reviewing the main points of the document, Archbishop Aspinall said the report concluded The Episcopal Church had conformed to “two out of three of the Windsor Reports requests, with more work to be done.”

General Convention “probably did the most that could have been done” on the question of a moratorium on the consecration of non-celibate gay clergy to the episcopate. However, Archbishop Aspinall said the report’s authors were “not convinced” that the response by General Convention to the Windsor Report’s request that The Episcopal Church bring to a halt public rites for the blessing of same sex-unions was adequate.

The Episcopal Church’s expression of regret adopted at General Convention did not provide a “full satisfaction” as it did not “use the precise language” of the Windsor Report. But it was concluded that it was “sufficient to meet the requests of the primates.”

The report had been completed approximately six months ago, conference spokesmen noted, and had been delivered to the primates today. Archbishop Aspinall stressed that “no decisions have been taken” on the report and that the task of the primates over the coming days was to make a “collective response” to the report.

The opening session was one of “process,” agreed Canadian Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, with “civil and cordial” conversation characterizing the morning.

Asked where this report left The Episcopal Church, Archbishop Aspinall said “the question has to wait until tomorrow,” but that it was “fair to say that more work needed to be done.”

Read it all here.


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