The Pilot Conversations
Four Pilot Conversations were established in order to test the model being developed by the design team drawing from the theological resources generated by the hubs.
Canon Groves was assisted in design of process by Dr Cecelia Clegg, Senior Lecturer in Practical Theology at the University of Edinburgh and Bishop John Simalenga of the Diocese of South Western Tanganyika. Dr Clegg worked as a conflict transformation practitioner in areas marked by religious conflict in Northern Ireland and as a facilitator in local congregational or regional church settings in Britain and Ireland. Bishop Simalenga has wide experience of conflict resolution in the Anglican Church of Tanzania and brought a depth of understanding to the process. Bishop Simalenga assisted in the facilitation of the first Theological Hub in Kenya.
Dioceses were invited to participate based on criteria established by the design team in conversation with the Reference Group. The priority was to ensure the choice of dioceses would enable evaluation by a team of academics. Each of the four Pilot Conversations consisted of three dioceses from four continents across the Communion.
The four Pilot Conversations were:
Western Tanganyika-El Camino Real-Gloucester
The aim was to learn with and from them as they encountered one another and engaged in genuine conversation. Some triads were existing partnerships, such as the Dioceses of El Camino Real, Gloucester and Western Tanganyika. Others were entirely new such as the Dioceses of Jamaica, Toronto and the Province of Hong Kong. Some added on existing relationships such as the Diocese of New York entering into the 35 year history between the Diocese of Derby and the Church of North India (CNI), with the Diocese of Mumbai representing CNI.1 The Diocese of New York was considering expanding its partnership links to include CNI. The bishops of the final triad of Ho (Ghana), Saldanha Bay (South Africa), and Mbeere (Kenya) made a commitment to partnership early on in the process.
Some of the diocesan bishops spoke highly of the Indaba experience at the 2008 Lambeth Conference, but not all. The experience of some of the bishops had been very negative and the diocesan bishop of one of the dioceses had not attended the Conference. Initially some had low expectations of the potential for Continuing Indaba, agreeing to participate out of commitment to the Communion.
1This conversation began with both Delhi and Mumbai representing CNI under the direction of Bishop Samantaroy, who was appointed by the Moderator. Following logistical complexities, the Diocese of Delhi could not maintain a consistent team that would enable evaluation and so, in consultation with Bishop Samantaroy, the diocese was asked to step out of the programme.