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Lambeth Digest, Day 7

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[Episcopal News Service, Canterbury] Much happens each day at the Lambeth Conference. In addition to Episcopal Life Media's other coverage, here's some of what else happened on July 28, the seventh day of the conference.

Presiding Bishop signs copies of her book
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori offered personalized copies of her book, "A Wing and a Prayer: A message of faith and hope," during a book signing at the Lambeth Conference Marketplace booth of Wesley Owen, a U.K.-based charity selling Christian books and other resources. Bishops, spouses and Lambeth Conference stewards took the opportunity to receive copies of the book, published in 2007 by Morehouse, an imprint of Church Publishing Inc.

Reflecting upon the Lambeth Conference
Delegates to the conference were given the first draft of a "reflections" document that will, at the end of the July 16-August 3 event, sum up the bishops' deliberations.

Archbishop Roger Herft of Perth, who is the chair of the "reflections group" that will produce the document, said that facilitators in the 16 bishops' discussion groups are recording the deliberations. They will be collected in order to "provide a document that produces a living, breathing narrative of the conference," said Herft.

The first draft reflected talks on Anglican identity, evangelism, social justice and ecumenism. Further sections will be developed and the goal is to produce a finished document on August 2, the day before the conference ends. It is due to be made public the next day.

No inquisition
Archbishop Clive Handford, chair of the Windsor Continuation Group, told reporters that there were some "wild and wacky thoughts" on the Internet blogs or Web diaries about a suggested faith and order commission. "We are not proposing a grand inquisition," he said.
 
Handford was referring to a small portion of the continuation group's "Preliminary Observations Part Two" document which was released July 25. The last half of the paper's last sentence said that the group "commend[s] the suggestion for the setting up of an Anglican Communion Faith and Order Commission that could give guidance on the ecclesiological issues raised by our current 'crisis'."
 
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams told reporters that day that the suggestion was "a flag raised to see who salutes."

Melanesian peacemakers
Bishops' spouses heard from the Rev. Richard Carter, who addressed the theme: "Charged to be God's peacemakers: situations of conflict."

Speaking to the media after the session, which was closed to the public, he reviewed the ethnic and economic tensions that led to armed conflict in 1999 in the South Pacific's Solomon Islands and the efforts of an Anglican religious order, the Melanesian Brothers and Sisters, to make peace. Carter, 49, said he worked within the brotherhood for 17 years.

The brotherhood sheltered thousands of refugees from the conflict because it was one group people said they could trust. In 2002, a peace accord resulted in a disarmament process and the brotherhood agreed to accept weapons for disposal, said Carter. "People wanted a chance to start again and we believe in a Gospel of forgiveness," he said.

The following year, seven members of the brotherhood were murdered by a militant holdout. Carter said that the brothers "were prepared to live the Gospel. The Christian Gospel is not about arguing with one another. It is about standing up for truth and reconciliation and breaking the culture of payback and revenge."

Creating a safer church
Delegates from seven Anglican provinces concerned about creating a safer church for vulnerable people met in Woking, England during the early days of the Lambeth Conference, which started July 16.

The three-day event was an opportunity for senior international church safeguarding practitioners to listen to the experiences of different parts of the Anglican Communion and to reflect together on standards of accountability and future strategies.

They planned to present to the conference on July 29 a message that churches should lead the way when protecting children and all vulnerable people. "Historically, faith communities were gatekeepers of both the moral imperative and the judicial process," said Canon Dr. John Higgins, a former Church of England national advisor on child protection.
 
"There is no doubt that the Church can do better," said Garth Blake, a senior Sydney barrister and chair of the Professional Standards Commission of the Anglican Church of Australia. "There is a need common to all of us around the world -- and not just in the First World either -- to get beyond 'risk management,' and recognize the care of the vulnerable as being a core element of the Gospel we proclaim and live."

Outdoor Bible study
With southeastern England experiencing hot, humid weather, groups of bishops took their Bible studies outdoors in the morning. On a 9 a.m. stroll through the campus, the primates of Canada and the U.S., Fred Hiltz and Katharine Jefferts Schori respectively, were among those sitting under trees to discuss Scripture.

Laundry dilemma
For major ceremonial events such as worship, bishops wear robes that are the symbols of their office -- the red and white rochet and chimere, or a decorated overgarment called a cope and matching headgear, the miter. But bishops meeting on the University of Kent campus have more mundane clothing concerns, also. A Canadian bishop, carrying two bags of laundry, stopped to greet a friend and sighed that the bags were not full of clean wash, since "the line was around the block" at the washing machines.

Next up
The daily schedules for the bishops and spouses conferences, as well as each evening's official "fringe events" are here.

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