Talking, conversation, and reconciliation- three bulwarks against disaster- are not means to an end. They are ends in themselves. And it seems, to Andy Trenier, peculiarly Christian ends.
Week after week I look askance- nay agog- at the international news section of my copy of Church Times. What catches my eye and ignites my ire is the drip-drip of argument, litigation, and general apparent anarchy that seems to characterise parts of the Episcopal Church in the USA. The same kind of thing occasionally bubbles up in cases involving individuals in England, and yes of course, our public battles are hardly bridled. And yet- it is that bit where conversation has so deformed that fellow Christians end up in court with one another that is so terrible. I always think there is an irony in some walking this this way since it is so clearly advised against in Scripture- especially when what is at stake is at heart- or is it?- a question about scriptural observance and interpretation.
So it was with a great rush of interest that I took up my front-row seat to see two former protagonists sit down together- as they are obviously now very used to doing- to talk. Not to agree necessarily but simply to talk. Talk- that most excellent of bulwarks against disaster, that most effective enemy of enmity- turns out to be a quite difficult Christian activity. A difficult activity but The Rev’d Baucum, and Bishop Shannon were really rather good at it. I suppose practice makes perfect.
The Rev’d Baucum suggested that the law-suit, in which they both found themselves embroiled, was the occasion but not the reason for their meeting as they did. Discovered first in secret and then in public their tentative personal but then later improbably prophetic dialogue, really is a good in itself. It is reason enough. Online people will moan and groan that they have given up on this principle or that: ‘how could you talk to him?’, they will ask or, ‘don’t you know what he is?’. Anonymous posters will harp, and crow, and shout blue murder, that talking is not enough. It is agreement that counts; it is truth that counts; it is winning that counts…
However beyond the nuance-less world of the blogosphere, up close and personal with these two men, it was clear to us hears that the talking was enough; that reconciliation was an end it itself; for it had converted them both. It had converted them not to another more truthful point of view but to Christ- who is the truth. If talking to others who are different that represents the ‘best charism of Anglicanism since the Elizabethan settlement’ , as The Rev’d Baucum suggested, then it is so because precisely because friendship with difference is a converting experience. We meet Christ there in the face of the stranger.
For these two witness before us one thing was crystal clear- ‘agreement is overrated’. Talking, conversation, and reconciliation are not means to an end. They are ends in themselves.
The Revd Dr Jo Bailey Wells reflects upon what an Indaba lifestyle might look like.
“You are training people for a Church that doesn’t exist.”
This was the conclusion of a bishop checking up on his ordinands at Duke Divinity School in the United States. At first, I heard it as criticism. But then he clarified:
“You are training people for a Church that doesn’t exist . . . yet.”
He was responding to the mix of Episcopal and other Anglican students who studied happily side-by-side, within a much larger interdenominational student body, working constructively, despite their differences, when elsewhere in the Church, these differences seemed only destructive. Read more
Back in November we told you about plans for a Women’s Indaba working with Anglican Women’s Empowerment (AWE ). This took place in New York just before the UNCSW meeting. Janet Marshall (Canada) and Alice Mogwe (Botswana) facilitated the Indaba between the 11 women from America and Africa that focused on violence against women and girls.
Indaba is an organic process, going where the Lord leads and where the group finds itself after deep conversation, prayer, and contemplation. We knew it meant trusting the process, our facilitators, and one another to do the work that came before us. Diane Enyon, AWE
Update: We understand that since the event on which this reflection was based that The Revd Tory Baucum has now ended his work with Bishop Shannon Johnston. You can read Tory Baucum’s letter to his vestry here. We pray that they find a ‘good resolution’ to the glory of God. The reflection is intended to be on what was said at the conference and reflects the thoughts of the writer. The author stands by the post.
Every living, vibrant church experiences conflict. Conflict is a sign of life, of passion and of growth. We know this from the Scriptures: the law, the histories, Psalms and prophets all witness to a people experiencing conflict. In the New Testament the living churches in Corinth, Galatia, Jerusalem and Philippi were marked by arguments and even division. Jesus himself experienced conflict within his own community as well as with the authorities of his time. Read more
Dr. Zebedi A. Muga, Lecturer in Biblical Studies at Kenya’s St. Paul’s University, reflects on Indaba through selected readings from the Old Testament.
This paper seeks to examine aspects of resolving intra-person and inter-communal conflicts based on readings from the Pentateuch. This is intended to informing the Indaba listening process of the Anglican Communion through analysis of certain readings that is hoped will shed light on the process from the biblical perspective.
The Pentateuch is chosen by virtue of the fact that few studies have been done in it. Also its social context is deemed closer to the African pastoral and indigenous social orders and organization and ethos. This has therefore provided an area of interest to the researcher. Read more
This paper by Rev. C. B. Peter, senior lecturer in Old Testament Studies at Kenya’s Saint Paul’s University, explores Biblical Models for Conflict Resolution.
The much lamented contemporary ideological rift within the Anglican Communion is much too small compared to the greater rifts in the universal church of Christ and the continual remapping of contemporary political and economic world characterized by newer re-groupings of nations. The rift would look even smaller if viewed on a historical scale. Adam and Eve by their first blame-game in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:11-13) inaugurated the gender-rift forever. Cain and Abel became the protagonists of the hideous drama of mutual extermination of shepherds by farmers and vice versa throughout the history of Israel, the history of colonialism in the two-thirds world continents, the never-stopping bloodbaths in the Middle East, and the post election violence in Kenya in early 2008. All religions of the world have always stood divided along sectarian lines, and Christianity is no exception. Read more
Canon Ernest Ndahani, lecturer at St Philips Kongwa, reflects on Philippians 2:1-11 and the connection between humility and unity.
The often-cited proverbial phrase “I am because we are; and since we are, therefore I am” was formulated by John Mbiti and its huge influence led to the realization of the African Philosophical tradition. In this tradition the identity of an individual is never separable from the socio-cultural environment. If individual identity is grounded in the life of community, then that individual’s good life is inseparable from the successful functioning of his or her society. Hence, in this philosophical tradition, ethics and moral reflection tend to focus much more on the collective structure than on individual decision making. It is from this understanding, I suppose, that we can think of the church as being called to the ministry within itself in order to fulfill its ministry to the world. In the words of Morgan, “the measure in which the Church is composed of men and women, who are living the life of reconciliation, is the measure in which the Church is declaring the evangel of reconciliation to the world.” With reference to this thinking we are going to look closely on Paul’s exhortation to harmony and humility in the face of conflict (Php. 2:1-4) and his illustration of the supreme example (Php. 2:5-11). Read more
Charles A. Mwihambi, from Msalato Theological College in the diocese of Central Tangyanika, reflects on King David’s successors in relation to the ongoing conflicts in the Anglican Communion.
Struggle for power is a common phenomenon that surrounds every election in both the secular and religious realm in the world, most especially Africa. Many hearts have been wounded beyond healing (at least from human point of view). Blood shed caused by civil war, as well as genocide. Schism in the Church which forms many denominations has been a common practice in Tanzania, Africa and elsewhere in the world. If you try to trace the roots of all these conflicts, you will find that deep down the cause of these conflicts is power struggle. Read more
The February edition of our prayer is now available to download from our Prayer Page
As we pray together during this holy season of Lent for reconciliation we pray with Mary Alueel Garang in the Episcopal church of Sudan.
Let us encourage our hearts in the hope of God, who once breathed the breath of life into the human body. God’s ears are open to prayers; the Creator of humankind is watching; the Lord reigns from his high place, seeing the souls of those who die. Turn your ears to us: upon whom else can we call? Is it not you alone, O God? Let us be branches of your Son. Amen