Thursday, February 15, 2007

Integrity: Observations on the Primates' Meeting

Excerpts from Integrity's posts about the first two days of the Primates Meeting.
Read all the entries here:

Observations on the Primates' Meeting in Tanzania

by the Rev. Caroline Hall, Integrity's Director of Anglican Communion Affairs
Day 1: Schism Tomorrow But Never Today

I watched fourteen young Tanzanian security guards march proudly across the front of the hotel this afternoon before beginning their long lurking evening dedicated to making sure that no-one invades the inner sanctum where the Primates live, eat, move and have their being. It's reasonable that a meeting of world leaders should have security concerns but it also seemed a curious symbol of where the Anglican Communion is today - attempting to defend its boundaries against marauders of uncertain origin.

In a recent interview with the Christian Science Monitor, Archbishop Akinola of Nigeria was quoted as saying that God always looks to Africa to save His Church. Well, here we are in Africa, but salvation seems to be delayed. The Primates Meeting was originally slated for February 14-18 with a possible pre-meeting on Tuesday 13th. Now the meeting proper starts on Thursday. But tonight we heard that the 'pre-meeting' with additional American bishops in attendance won't be until then - so does that mean Thursday's agenda will happen on Wednesday, or is everything being postponed until Friday?

And why the change? Bishop Duncan's laptop has apparently been stolen… was there vital information on it? and if so, why didn't he back it up? Or is it an attempt to controvert the carefully laid plans of the conservative coalition who met here for two days before the rest of the Primates arrived? Is it a careful liberal plot to prevent anything 'really important' being discussed and so putting off the 'Day of the Lord' until Lambeth next year? And why did conservatives bundle Archbishop Akinola into their car and speed off together? Was it really a dire need for Chinese food, or something even more sinister?

Here in Dar es Salaam there is a severe absence of any hard news and so little incidents become much more important than they really are - which perhaps also says something about the Anglican Communion. In the absence of a galvanizing mission based on the gospel of God's unconditional love, are we just sitting around trading gossip while we wait for the schism which will surely come tomorrow… or the day after?
Day 2: Jesus Loves Me, This I Know

It’s been a quiet day in Dar es Salaam, my home town. Apparently Canterbury had breakfast with Archbishop Akinola and the Primate of South East Asia, John Chu, at which they discussed a letter from Akinola whose contents have not been revealed but can safely be assumed to continue in the established trajectory – to change the agenda in order to contest the presence of Bishop Katharine, and of John Sentamu, Archbishop of York and Primate of England (Canterbury is Primate of All-England).

Bishop Katharine is reputed to be in good spirits. She met today with local missionaries from the Episcopal Church, including Henry and Priscilla Zeigler from the Seattle area who are setting up a medical center here in Dar es Salaam. She spent the afternoon with the other new Primates (fourteen in all) reviewing a paper from the Anglican Communion office on the role of a Primate, and introducing herself and the concerns of her province to her new colleagues.

Tomorrow the meeting starts in earnest. After adoption of the agenda (which might take most of the day) the Primates expect to spend the rest of the day considering The Episcopal Church’s response to the Windsor Report, and the reaction of the Primates’ ‘monitoring committee’. It is likely that the presentation/discussion including Bishops Duncan, Epting and MacPherson will take place during this larger debate.


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