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Lambeth Digest, Day 9

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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 30, the ninth day of the conference.

Give the angel a hand
Two Lambeth Conference stewards assembled the wire frame of an angel to which hand cut-outs of most conference participants will be attached. Following Sunday worship services in and around Canterbury on July 27, Lambeth Conference participants were invited to trace one of their hands on paper and cut them out. The hands are being attached to a roughly seven-foot-tall chicken wire-frame angel. The angel will later be taken to Canterbury Cathedral where it will reside for a time after the conference.

Interpreters offer Lambeth Conference 'fishes and loaves' -- service in abundance
About 50 interpreters are offering their services in at least seven languages at various events to support bishops and spouses throughout the Lambeth Conference. The Rev. Thomas Mansella, translation services coordinator for the Episcopal Church, says it's a "loaves and fishes" kind of service and much more than a 9 to 5 role at the conference.

"I tell the interpreters they need to think of themselves as loaves and fishes, broken by the Lord and given away," Mansella said. In addition to daily bible study and indaba groups, the interpreters, who may also assist in written translation services, sometimes assist beyond the call of duty.

"They are called for informal conversations, emergency medical situations, personal issues, a whole range of things," said Mansella. "But everyone has worked with cheerfulness and dedication." The languages interpreted daily include: Burmese, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Congolese Swahili and Juba Arabic, a dialect spoken in southern Sudan.

Kenyan primate rejects proposal to stop 'intervention' in U.S.
Anglican Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya has said churches in Africa and the Global South will not stop setting up parallel church structures in the United States, despite a proposal at the Lambeth Conference for such "cross border interventions" to cease.

The call came in a July 28 preliminary proposal from the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG) made to maintain Windsor Report-recommended bans on same-gender blessings, cross-border interventions and the ordination of gay and lesbian people to the episcopate.

"We won't stop going to America to preach the Gospel. We are going to preach the Gospel. We are going to tell the good news to the people," Nzimbi said July 30 in Nairobi. Nzimbi is one of four Anglican primates who have boycotted the Lambeth Conference, although some Kenyan bishops are attending the every-decade gathering.

The Kenyan prelate said that Anglican leaders boycotting the conference needed to hear repentance from the churches that had contravened a 1998 Lambeth Conference resolution that "upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage."

"We need to hear, 'We are turning to God and turning away from sin.' This is the most important thing," he said. Nzimbi explained that his comments did not mean that Kenya did not have gay people. "We have them but we talk to them," the Kenyan archbishop said. "We give them pastoral care so that they can change, to know that the Lord loves them but not their lifestyle."

Archbishop clarifies Windsor Continuation Group report to media
Archbishop Clive Handford, former primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East and chair of the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG), told reporters July 30 that the group's proposal to create a pastoral forum was "not meant to be punitive in any way."

Handford met with reporters to clarify questions about the WCG proposal which, among other things, included retaining Windsor Report-recommended bans on same-gender blessings, cross-border interventions and the ordination of gay and lesbian people to the episcopate. He said that an additional self-select session for bishops had been added to Wednesday's daily schedule to enable further discussions on the proposal.

"We've had two formal hearings and informal conversations last night. We've heard a good deal of views and standpoints and it's been very helpful," Handford told the media.

In response to reporters' questions, he said: "There may have to be a structure proposed -- not intended as punitive -- which will keep us in as full situation of communion as we can be while recognizing that to some degree it may be diminished or it may work out in terms of a slight dilution of representation. I'm not putting that forward as a decision but as a possible way to go forward."

The WCG proposals will be taken up at the 14th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) in May 2009 and Handford acknowledged that they could change many times before that meeting convenes.

Bishops consider second draft of conference's final report
In a closed hearing this afternoon, the bishops considered the second and partial draft of the reflections document expected to be released on August 3, the last day of the Lambeth Conference. The final document is meant to be a "living, breathing narrative" of "what is happening when bishops engage with one another," drafting committee chair Archbishop Roger Herft of Perth has said.

The second draft, released to reporters as the bishops began meeting, covers the work of the conference through July 28, the day the first draft was released. Apparently due to be based around the daily themes of the conference, the second draft expands upon the July 28 first draft's introductory and following sections on Anglican bishops and Anglican identity, evangelism, and social justice. The second draft has new sections on ecumenism, interfaith relations, and the environment.

The second draft has grown to 14 pages from the first's eight. Paragraphs in the document are numbered consecutively. The second draft is up to 55 paragraphs and counting. Still to come are sections on "gender and power," Scripture, "sexuality and listening," the proposed Anglican covenant, the Windsor Process and "leading in God's mission." There will also be a concluding section.

The full text of the second draft is here.

The text of the final document could well change from the current draft. "There's a lot more work to be done," Archbishop Phillip Aspinall of Brisbane, the primate of Australia and principal spokesman for the bishops, told reporters at the afternoon news briefing.

The process of drafting the document begins with so-called "listeners" in each of the 16 bishops' indaba discussion groups forming the committee Herft chairs. They bring the reflections of their groups' work to be summarized and included in the drafts and final document. Each draft thus far has been presented to the bishops in a one-and-a-half hour hearing. There are two more hearings set for the afternoons of July 31 and August 1.

The goal is to produce a finished document on August 2, the day before the conference ends. It is to be made public the next day.

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

-- Contributors to today's digest include the Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg, the Rev. Pat McCaughan and Matthew Davies.

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