In the week following Easter 7 when the RCL appoints John 17 “that we all might be one”, the Archbishop of Canterbury (ABC) lets it be known that Bishop Gene Robinson will not be invited to the Lambeth Conference which is THE tea party that all Anglican bishops are invited to. Only +Gene and +Martyn Mimms, a bishop of Nigeria who has been posted to interfere with the American Church by his archbishop, have been not invited.
How are we to understand this snubbing? I believe that we should see it as the ABC’s finale to a sad term in office. He has steadfastly ignored the Episcopal Church’s (TEC) witness to gay and lesbian persons. He has avoided meeting with the House of Bishops HoB) or attending the General Conventions of TEC even when invited. He has proposed a Covenant relationship for membership in the Anglican Communion and supported the Primate’s attempted interference in TEC. And now he has refused to be seen in the company of a gay bishop. So much for the listening process promoted by Lambeth ’98!
To me it is clear that the Windsor Report, the Primate’s Communique, the HoB communication, the will of General Convention has all been a great exercise in nothingness and a major waste of time and money. The ABC doesn’t get it. He is as dense as Jesus’ disciples. And I doubt if the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is going to do anything for him. And if the ABC is one of the marks of unity, I think it is time for TEC to recognize that the spirit of Anglicanism resides in TEC, not the CofE.
Either we are one or we are not. To say that all the diocesan bishops of TEC can come but he can’t have LGBT cooties in their midst is not living out the Gospel that concludes Jesus’ Priestly prayer. What an insult to TEC, to the HoB, to the HoD, to the Executive Council, to + Gene, to all of us who have tried to continue in dialog when the heart of the ABC has been closed to LGBT people all along!
Until now I have been one who has been supportive of staying in the Anglican Communion (AC) at nearly all costs. I was proud of the HoB’s communication to the Primates as to the demands they made by making it quite clear that bishops are not the only Christians with authority in TEC. But now I am not sure that we can stay in the AC if only some of our bishops are welcome and others are not.
There is no way to be in dialog, to address conflict if both sides are not at the table to speak. By excluding both +Robisnson and +Mimms, there is no way that the issue that is tearing our Communion apart can be healed. As long as people are silenced, as long as their voice is not permitted to be at the table, there is no unity and no possibility for its development.
I hope the HoB has the courage to live up to the convictions that they had in April. If the steadfastness to stand in unity with LGBT persons is as strong as it was in TX, they, to a bishop, need to decline the invitations en masse. The Executive Council and the HoB should also be unwilling to foot the considerable funding of Lambeth ’08 that it has done in the past. The ABC must know that the unity that he has so symbolized is a shattered by his actions, not TEC, or Nigeria or the Global South or Windsor compliant folk. The symbol of unity is a sham.