Thursday, July 10, 2008

A good start

Just finishing a three day conference of the Modern Churchpersons Union, north of London. This is a 110-year-old, left of center Liberal group, and proud of it. They have been a most welcoming and warm group. A VERY nice way to begin my trek in England.

The setting is an old manor house that's been turned into a lovely conference center. The gardens/lawn out back are beautiful, and in the early morning, it has a Watership Down look, with dozens of rabbits all over the lawn, and a few pheasants pecking away. A tranquil setting in which to discuss the roiling boil going on in the English Church (ordination of women bishops) and the Lambeth Conference.

Other speakers included our own former Presiding Bishop and sometime New Hampshire resident Frank Griswold, Oxford professor Marilyn McCord Adams, Bishop of Botswana Trevor Mwamba, and chaired by the Primate of Wales, Barry Morgan. Each has given a fine lecture on "Saving the Soul of the Anglican Communion." Last night, I gave my talk. I think it went well, receiving a standing ovation at the end. Later, one of the participants asked me if I knew how seldom the Brits offered such a gesture, wanting me to know that they rarely get out of their seats to offer such frank and straightforward praise to a speaker (noting that "you Americans" do it at the drop of a hat" -- but not us!).

In this setting, people are generally of one mind about the ordination of women to the episcopate (for it), the Archbishop of Canterbury (disappointed at his perceived lack of leadership), the full inclusion of gay and lesbian people in the Church (it's about time!), and commitment to the Anglican Communion (universal). It has been good to be among these new friends and to gather up good energy for the coming days, knowing that their prayers will be added to all of yours.

God seems very close. As I tried to point to God and not to myself in this presentation, I was once again reminded of the need we all have to remember that we can do none of this well without the Living God. I have gotten clearer and clearer about why I'm here: as Psalm 27 puts it, I seek one thing only -- to sing God's song in this place, and to let the light of Christ in me and through me shine for all the world to see.