09 November 2012

A Challenge and Opportunity

With these excerpted words, Bp. Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury designate, has begun his public service with a challenge.
... but to love one another and to demonstrate to the world around us a better way of disagreeing.

It is perhaps time to think about how one might achieve this. It seems clear that Dr. Williams' project the, "Anglican Covenant," hardly a footnote at the recent ACC meeting and a dead letter among both traditionalist Central African and liberal North Atlantic churches alike, is not the way. We must look elsewhere.

In his polished and gracious remarks, Bp. Webley offered a tribute to Archbishop Williams. While I find his description of Dr. Williams an exaggeration of monumental proportions, in Williams' design of the Lambeth Conference, there may be something to consider.

"Indaba" is a Zulu word that describes the decision process common to many tribal people. The tribe / council / churches(?) come together. Someone makes a presentation describing the problem. The group then discusses how they can either resolve the problem or agree to continue together with it unresolved. In traditional cultures, the conversation continues, hours, days even weeks, until a resolution is found.

Maybe that is where we should look. That sort of intensive, continuous conversation that calls us to focus on the issue with only the assumption that we will be together when we finish can succeed. If such a process is to be a success however, the commitment is absolutely needed.

The big issue may be that "if." We have already heard from the primate of Nigeria, that if the subject is the, "homosexual agenda" then the Nigerians will not participate.

It may be that only a process like Indaba or a "listening process" similar to that employed some years ago in TEC can make the communion whole. But equally it may be that the communion is simply broken beyond repair.

If everyone is committed to staying together, it can work. And if that is what happens then we can indeed be the Christians that show a, "better way of disagreeing." Equally, if for whatever reason, some refuse to committ, Indaba may become the barrier between churches which stay together and others which won't. Then the effort will stand as a symbol of our failure to live into the new archbishop's goal.

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