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Lambeth Digest, Day 10

[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 31, the tenth day of the conference.

Bishop Roskam addresses conference on domestic violence remarks
Suffragan Bishop Catherine Roskam of the Diocese of New York, addressed a July 31 conference session on a point of personal privilege to explain the context behind remarks of hers on domestic violence that caused headlines. "I was talking about the context of the pervasiveness of violence against women all over the world," she said in an interview, adding that only remarks about violence in developing countries got reported.

In the newsletter Lambeth Witness on July 29, Roskam was quoted as saying, "We have 700 men here. Do you think any of them beat their wives? Chances are they do. The most devout Christians beat their wives … many of our bishops come from places where it is culturally accepted to beat your wife. In that regard, it makes the conversation quite difficult."

She said she told the conference that remarks of hers that did not get reported focused on domestic violence in the United States and noted that she sees murders of women by spouses or boyfriends increasing. Headlines that distilled her remarks into a few words were misleading, she said. The Episcopal Church has supported the 1994 Violence Against Women law in the U.S., which provided funds to combat domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault, and the 2007 International Violence Against Women law, which extended those concerns to the global arena.  Bishops consider second draft of conference's final report The group drafting a reflections document, expected to be issued on the last day of the Lambeth Conference (August 3), released a third draft of the document this afternoon.

The third draft was given to reporters as the bishops began a closed hearing this afternoon to comment on it. Diocese of Maine Bishop Chilton Knudsen said the two hearings held on the document's drafts thus far have provided the chance for bishops to suggest ways to "enlarge the attentiveness of the document," in other words to give the document more depth. Another hearing is set for August 1.

The third draft covers the work of the conference through July 28, which is where the second draft stopped. Currently based around the daily themes of the gathering, the third draft includes expanded versions of sections on Anglican bishops and Anglican identity, evangelism, social justice, ecumenism, interfaith relations, and the environment.

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.

One evident change from the second to third draft is that the section on Anglican bishops and Anglican identity has been moved from Section B, which followed the document's introduction, to Section G under an added heading of "Strengthening Anglican Identity."
Many of the sections now contain resource lists.

The mission and evangelism section is the only section that now ends with recommendations (new to this draft). Included are calls for an expansion of the Anglican Communion website "to allow the sharing of theological thinking, mission ideas, partnerships etc" and a "Bishop's Introductory Pack" to explain what information and resources are available throughout the communion.

This section also notes that "the current cycle of Lambeth meetings every 10 years is deemed inadequate" and recommends that "perhaps there could be a meeting of a representative group every 3 years."

The third draft has grown to 18 pages from the 14 pages of the second draft and the first's eight. The full text of the second draft is here. The text of the third draft has not yet been posted.

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.

Added workshop on 'initiatives' gives bishops time to discuss new ideas
Possible new ways of building and maintaining relationships in the Anglican Communion, which have arisen during conversations and various gatherings, got a chance to be aired this afternoon during a special workshop.

The Rev. Ian Douglas, a member of the Lambeth Conference Design Group, said the workshop was meant "to give an opportunity to bishops with constructive ideas to bring them forward."

Douglas termed the ideas "genuinely positive developments that are merging in different corners."

"There's no alternative plan [or] proposal that suddenly will be put forward in that self-select session," he said. "It really is a genuine opportunity to bring constructive ideas forward and see how they fit."

Each day the bishops are able to spend the time from 4 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. in one of a series of concurrent "self-select sessions." The added self-select session was led by Archbishop Clive Handford, former primate of the Jerusalem and the Middle East and Windsor Continuation Group chair. Douglas said some of the suggestions could become part of the conference's Windsor Report discussions, scheduled for the next two mornings.

Bishops' spouses discuss spiritual, physical health
The spouses' discussion focused on maintaining physical and mental health in the church context and in the demanding environment of being a bishop's spouse. The Rev. Jackie Cray, who is married to Bishop Graham Cray of Maidstone, England, is unusual in that she is a bishop's spouse who is ordained, noted Archbishop Philip Aspinall of Brisbane, spokesman for the conference.

Cray, chair of the Spouses Implementation Group, noted that the session in the previous day had been about abuses of power and said it was appropriate that "caring for one another" followed the next day. She said her own church community carried her through the illness of a daughter. "People not only prayed for me but practically supported me, brought me meals, cared about my well-being as a mother and us as a family unit. The good news is that [the daughter] is now a social worker," said Cray. "That is the unique contribution that the Christian church brings -- that love for one another."

She told a news conference that another type of illness -- mental illness -- still carries a stigma and churches should provide a safe place where those coping with it "can be helped and walked alongside."

Spouses heard from Dr. Maria Akrofi, a physician and wife of Archbishop Justice Okei Akrofi of Accra, Ghana, primate of West Africa, who talked about caring for clergy spouses in her country, said Cray. They also heard from Professor John Copeland, professor emeritus of the University of Liverpool, who has done research on mental health issues following disasters. "A lot of money goes into practical support after a disaster, but almost no money is set aside for the provision of mental health resources for those who suffer with mental health difficulties from a disaster," Cray said.

Cathedral not just a museum for tourists
Canterbury Cathedral, which stands on a site that has seen Christian worship for 1,400 years, receives thousands of visitors per year and they are reminded daily that the huge building is not just a museum for tourists. Several times a day, a priest ascends into one of the pulpits and announces prayers. Tour groups pause. The clergyperson then announces that he or she is available for several minutes thereafter for anyone, should they wish to speak with him or her. One priest interviewed briefly said people often come up to talk about serious issues or to request a blessing on a marriage or other situation.

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 Episcopal Life Media Editor Solange De Santis and Episcopal Life Media Correspondent the Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg.

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