Canadian bishops trade advice before leaving for Lambeth Conference

By

Brenda Still

Bishops had a wide-ranging discussion about the Lambeth Conference, scheduled for July 16 to Aug. 3 in Canterbury, England. Bishop Anthony Burton of the diocese of Saskatchewan, who attended the last Lambeth in 1998, said that meeting bishops from around the world meant “it was very apparent that the Anglican Communion is a living, breathing reality.” He told his colleagues that the conference would give them “a depth of understanding” about the church since there is a “little sliver of world Christianity in a room.”

The bishops will worship at historic Canterbury Cathedral, participate in small study and discussion groups as well as large plenary sessions at the University of Kent, meet ecumenical partners, and consider church and global issues.

One highlight, said Bishop Burton, often disparaged but eagerly attended by all, is Queen Elizabeth’s garden party at Buckingham Palace. (See related story)

Bishop Mark MacDonald, the national indigenous bishop, who attended Lambeth in 1998 when he was bishop of Alaska, said that worship on the Aug. 6 anniversary of the Hiroshima atomic bombing was “profound.” He also referred to some of Lambeth’s more difficult moments. The 1998 conference passed a resolution saying homosexuality was “incompatible with Scripture” and Bishop MacDonald said that some of his “American colleagues got a cold shoulder and many speak painfully about it to this day.”

Retired Archbishop Terence Finlay said “some of the women bishops were subject to comments” from those opposed to women’s ordination and refused to be photographed with female bishops in the formal rochet (white robe with ruffled cuffs) and chimere (red overgarment) vestments.

Archbishop Caleb Lawrence of Moosonee, who attended the 1988 and 1998 conferences, commented that while meeting people from all over the world is wonderful, Lambeth is an intense experience and it is good to “take an afternoon off” for some quiet time.

Other details were suggested: “take extra hangers,” “take washcloths.” Some bishops also criticized what they saw as a lack of organization, with Bishop Dennis Drainville of Quebec wondering why he could not get a list of nearby accommodation from the conference office.

Bishops were also reminded that the Canadian church is contributing $500,000 to the conference, pro-rated by dioceses and paid annually over the past 10 years.

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