Indaba and Human Sexuality
At the 14th Anglican Consultative Council in Jamaica Continuing Indaba was launched to follow the Listening Process. Both of these process emerged from the 2004 Windsor Report as ways to address those issues threatening to split our Communion. You can read more of how this emerged here. The Listening Process was designed to assist the church in the commitment of the Anglican Communion to listen to the experience of gay and lesbian people. Continuing Indaba was launched by ACC 14 in response to the requests of ACC 13 and the 2009 Primates meeting for Mutual Listening, in the light of the Indaba processes used at the 2008 Lambeth Conference.
The report to ACC 14 included a description of Continuing Indaba the aims are set out as:
- Develop theological resources to inform the process of seeking a common mind by the utilisation of theologians around the world reflecting on Scripture and the traditions of the church in the context of diverse cultures, with an emphasis on non-western cultures and to publish them in culturally appropriate forms. Develop and publish training materials for the convening and facilitation of Anglican Indaba processes.
- Run five pilot conversations of typically three dioceses meeting across diversity. The focus will be upon on the primary mission issues in each context and will not avoid hard questions – not only related to sexuality, but also to the authority of Scripture, faithfulness to tradition and the respect for the dignity of all. The hope will be that the result of the conversations will be a depth of agreement and the clarification of disagreement resulting in positive missional relationships.
- Run theological and process evaluation groups to ensure the process is faithful to the Anglican way, valuable in enabling mutual mission and replicable across the Communion.
Whereas the experience of Gay and Lesbian people in the Anglican Communion is the focus of the Listening Process the focus of Continuing Indaba is mutual listening for the sake of God’s mission. Resolution 1.10 from the 1998 Lambeth Conference committed the Anglican Communion to listening to the experience of homosexual persons and has gave absolute assurances of their full membership of the church. That commitment was given in the context of an affirmation of marriage between a man and a woman.
So what does all that mean?
It means that Anglicans from all over the Communion, with diverse convictions on Sexuality (and Scripture and gender and authority and liturgy etc etc) met together as part of Continuing Indaba. Some of those people would self identify as being gay or lesbian. Some of these Anglicans came from contexts where it was not seen as unusual others came from contexts where homosexuality is not culturally or religiously acceptable. Although they are different issues there was a parallel in the groups with the acceptance of women as priests and bishops. As one participant reflected:
All of us quickly realized that the opportunity being offered in the Indaba experience was to reject our urge to defend a position, but to simply befriend the people, visit their homes, meet their children, eat their food, visit their churches, experience their efforts in evangelism and discipleship, and then to discuss the significant issues we face together as the people of God.