Faith and Fellowship in Crisis - April 2008

by Graham Kings

Date added: 29/04/2008

A friend and I were trying to meet up at Spring Harvest. We hadn't seen each other yet, although we both knew we were there. We arranged to meet at the front of the main white pavilion. 'I can't see you yet, Pete. I'm just by the main entrance'. 'So am I', he said. Then, in a moment of inspiration, he added: 'You're not in Minehead are you?' 'Yes.' He replied, 'I'm in Skegness!'

Well at least we both thought we were at the same conference - not rival ones, one in Canterbury and one in Jerusalem!

My title is 'Faith and Fellowship in Crisis' and I will be taking the words in a different order, beginning with God's word through St Paul:

  • The Church at Philippi: learning through Scripture
  • Crisis: learning through tragedy
  • Faith: learning through mystery plays
  • Fellowship: learning through thinking and being together

1. The Church at Philippi: learning through Scripture

Paul founded the church at Philippi. Remember his dream of the Macedonian man who cried out to him 'Come over and help us'? (Acts 16:9-10) In his dream he heard a man, but at Philippi he met a woman. Lydia took him into her home and came to faith (Acts 16:11-15). She was a trader in purple cloth - and would no doubt thereby have been at home in the market place of the Lambeth Conference 2008. Paul had very close and happy relations with the church. He is writing from prison, probably in Rome, many years later. The church had been very generous to him and the theme of joy runs throughout the letter, but there was also a certain amount of disunity.

(a) Prayer

Paul starts his letter with thanksgiving and prayer. Philippians 1:3-4, 'I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for you all.' When the Church Mission Society began in 1799, one of its foundational principles was to 'put prayer first'. It is encouraging that the programme of the Lambeth Conference begins with a retreat and puts prayer first. In his video this week released on YouTube, concerning the Lambeth Conference, Rowan Williams said:

We are going to begin the Lambeth Conference with a couple of days of retreat, of quiet prayer and reflection. There will be addresses. There will be a lot of open space and open time where people can just be alone with God, to think deeply about what they want from the conference and perhaps have the opportunity to talk quietly with one of two others about their hopes and fears.

(b) Fellowship

In Philippians 1:5, Paul writes of their 'sharing in the gospel', which can also be translated 'partnership' or 'communion'. The Greek word is 'koinonia' which has become very important in recent ecclesiological and ecumenical concerns. Nicholas Sagovsky's book, 'Ecumenism, Christian Origins and the Practice of Communion' (Cambridge: CUP, 2000) expounds in depth this word in the Scriptures and in Christian tradition.

In his video this week, Rowan Williams described the 'middle sized groups' of the conference:

We have given these the African name of indaba groups, groups where in traditional African culture, people get together to sort out the problems that affect them all, where everyone has a voice and where there is an attempt to find a common mind or a common story that everyone is able to tell when they go away from it. This is how we approached it. This is what we heard.

(c) Love, Insight and Discernment

In Philippians 1:12 Paul writes, 'And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you determine what is best, so that on the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless.'

I remember George Caird lecturing on New Testament Ethics at Oxford in the mid 1970s and he majored on this verse as pivotal for Christian ethics. The phrase translated in NRSV 'determine what is best', in RSV is 'approve what is excellent' and in the REB is 'to learn by experience what things really matter'.

In his commentary on Philippines, in his book Paul's Letters from Prison (Oxford: OUP, 1976), Caird wrote:

The verb dokimazein can mean approve, but the sense required here is rather 'learn by experience'. Ethical judgment becomes mature only by constant exercise. Ta diapheronta (what is excellent) was a technical term of Stoic moral philosophy, which had passed into popular usage, denoting 'the things that really matter.'

It seems to me, that we could refer this to the concept of core beliefs and to adiaphora which the Windsor Report defines as follows:

As the Church has explored the question of limits to diversity, it has frequently made use of the notion of adiaphora: things which do not make a difference, matters regarded as non-essential, issues about which one can disagree without dividing the Church.

Caird's other pivotal text for Christian Ethics in the epistles was similar. It is Hebrews 5:14, 'But solid food is for the mature, for those who faculties have been trained by practice to distinguish good from evil.'

(d) Crisis of Unity

In Philippians 1:15 -18 Paul writes, referring to his detractors, 'Some proclaim Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill...What does it matter? Just this, that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice.'

In Philippians 2:2, he continues, 'Make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.'

This is a powerful reminder for our concerns today and Paul uses it to introduce his famous christological hymn in verses 5-11, 'Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus...

In Philippines 4:2-3 he writes, echoing his earlier language, concerning specific people who are not united in the love of Christ, 'I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel.'

It seems clear from Paul that humility and unity hang together, while pride and disunity hang down and drag others down with them.

(e) Faith

People usually go to Romans and Galatians for Paul's doctrine of 'justification by faith', but Philippians is also vital. Chapter 3:8-9 runs, 'that I may gain Christ, and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith.'

People in the church at Philippi were probably mostly Gentile, not Jewish, Christians. It is worth remembering, in the context of Lambeth 2008, where nearly all the bishops and their spouses will be Gentile Christians, that justification by faith is crucial - literally - not because it is easier than by the law, not because it is more spiritual than by the law, but because it thereby includes the Gentiles, who do not have the law and only have faith in Jesus Christ.

2. Crisis: learning through tragedy

In February last year, I saw a cartoon soon after the sad death of a famous inventor. A husband and wife were looking around a church yard and asked the vicar: 'We're looking for the grave of Robert Adler, the inventor of the TV remote control - but we can't find it anywhere.' (Spectator, 24 February 2007) Remote control is an interesting concept.

(a) Hamlet: rival or rival?

Although some of the organizers of the Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON), taking place in Jordan and Jerusalem in June 2008, claim it is not an alternative to the Lambeth Conference, which meets in Canterbury in July 2008, it clearly is, and it was set up as a rival conference. Rival is also an interesting concept and its meaning has changed over the centuries.

Can you remember the old English song 'Green Grow the Rushes O'? For some reason, in our family we sing it loudly each year after Christmas lunch. There is one line 'Three, three the rivals.' It goes on, 'Two, two the lily white boys, all dressed up in green O. One is one and all alone and ever more shall be so.'

It is a song of deep Christian symbolism and the three rivals refer to the three persons of the Trinity, and the one at the end to our One God. But why rivals? Aren't they meant to be united in communion and fellowship?

The clue comes from Shakespeare's Hamlet of all places, and was shared one Christmas by my father-in-law, who used to lecture in English. He said that an early meaning of rival was 'colleague'. In the opening scene of Hamlet at the change of the soldiers' watch, Barnardo, is waiting for his mates to join him on duty. He says to Francisco:

Well, good night.

If you meet Horatio and Marcellus,

The rivals of my watch, bid them make haste. Hamlet 1.1.10

So in the ancient English folk song, 'Green, Grow the Rushes O', and in Hamlet, the meaning of rival is not 'competitor' or 'antagonist' but 'colleague' and 'partner'. Later it changed meaning.

What if GAFCON had been arranged as that early meaning of rival, rather than the later one? In January this year, I wrote an article in the Church of England Newspaper and in on Fulcrum, entitled 'Substance or Shadow: Lambeth and GAFCON'. I stated:

'Preparatory' conferences, eg in Kuala Lumpur 18 months before Lambeth 1998, are valuable: 'diverting' conferences, in a volatile context four weeks beforehand, are divisive.

Recently, I was with a member of Anglican Mainstream who said that he wished that GAFCON would be in a location in England, so bishops could move on from it easily to the Lambeth Conference, if they so wished. This seems to have been an early plan, but then, it seems, a deliberate decision was made to hold it away from England. Then it became embroiled in the racial, religious and political context of Jerusalem. Some bishops, even with the consequential difficulties of extra expense and travel, will indeed be attending both. It is encouraging to learn that planners of the Lambeth Conference are considering how to discuss positively in Canterbury some of the concerns which may emanate from GAFCON.

(b) Atonement by Ian McKewan: glory or gory?

At the end of Hamlet, there are dead bodies all over the stage and much blood. Near the end of the novel and film 'Atonement' by Ian McEwan, there is portrayed the graphic horror of the retreat from Dunkirk in 1940.
Matt Kennedy, who runs a very conservative evangelical web site in America, called Stand Firm, has used the metaphor of Dunkirk as a glorious call for lots of different congregations to leave The Episcopal Church, as in little boats, and be rescued. This has become quite a popular metaphor. But this romantic picture of a glorious rescue is questioned by what actually happened at Dunkirk.

It really was nothing like many imagine - lots of nice little boats picking up soldiers. It was an absolute hell hole, and a mess, and awfully coordinated and thousands were killed and wounded. The planners of the breakaway umbrella group from The Episcopal Church, known as 'Common Cause Partnership' - however much we may sympathise with their ethical stance, if not their ecclesiology - need to heed the awful reality of war in their metaphors. It is gory, not full of glory.

Matt Kennedy has also expressed the plan to replicate the 'Common Cause Partnership' in the wider Communion, which is the strategy behind GAFCON. This is openly being discussed on the site and on other conservative sites. To some of the planners and their advocates, GAFCON is 'Common Cause' writ large.

The litigation in the USA concerning this split is appalling and costing millions of dollars. The Episcopal Church and churches in 'Common Cause' have got themselves into a crazy situation of suing and counter-suing. The communiqué from the Primates Meeting in Dar es Salaam (February 2007) spoke in particular against litigation and yet the Presiding Bishop, and others who read it and knew the mind of the Primates, still went ahead with it. The Bishop of Virginia, Peter Lee, was negotiating with the breakaway parishes in Virginia to bring about a settlement and agreement. Then he was overruled by the central bureaucracy of The Episcopal Church and legal cases were started, and defended, and are costing millions.

Where is the central Anglican voice of Scripture interpreted by tradition and reason? In the USA, it seems to me, it is the 'Windsor Bishops' who are conservative on issues of sexuality but are not going to split from The Episcopal Church. They have met several times at Camp Allen, facilitated by the theological work of the Anglican Communion Institute. The new web site, Covenant, which was launched in September 2007, is also a valuable resource in a similar tradition.

Who can cry 'stop this madness of litigation'? For this drama, we need a Greek Chorus to comment on it and cry 'shame' and 'cease'.

(c) Molora by Yael Farber: righting the wrong through rewriting the end

Last week, Alison and I saw an amazing play at the Barbican theatre in London, Molora. It is a South African version of the three Greek tragedies by Aeschylus, known as the Oresteia trilogy. A young director, Yael Farber, has recontextualised the tragedies into the setting of apartheid South Africa and the subsequent 'Truth and Reconciliation Commission.' It is very powerful, and the Chorus are the heroines.

For they are played by South African mamas who play traditional drums, a basic one- stringed instrument of a calabash and a bow, and twangy metal mouth instruments. The sing in split tones and come out with deep groans - sighs too deep for words. They are played by the Ngqoko Cultural Group, made up of Xhosa tribeswomen (and one man), who create a 'soundscape' around the action.

As they appeared, I whispered to Alison, 'remember the Mothers Union in Kenya?' We served in Kenya with the Church Mission Society for seven years at a theological college at Kabare, just south of Mount Kenya. The Mothers Union there, and throughout Africa, are a powerful, unstoppable movement. One day, Bishop David Gitari (who later became Archbishop of Kenya), was threatened by a Cabinet Minister for his challenging sermons advocating justice. He was ordered to turn up at the Cabinet Minister's office. Bishop Gitari said he would be delighted to do so, and he would attend wearing his robes, together with all the Mothers Union, wearing their robes. Nothing further was heard about the matter.

The South African mamas are the chorus in this modern version of Aeschylus' tragedies. By the way, there is an ancient ironic tradition of how Aeschylus met his death. The Oxford Companion to English Literature states, 'Legend attributes the manner of his death to the fall of a tortoise which an eagle let drop, mistaking his bald pate for a rock.' It seems that the Eagle wanted to find a way of smashing open its prey and opted to drop it on a rock, but it turned out to be the famous playwright's head. On his head be it and it was. If he had written it into a play, people would have said it was too fantastic and unlikely. I'm sure there is a sermon illustration there somewhere...

So be careful, some of you, when you go outside of this conference centre. Look up and beware. In Luke 21:28 Jesus says 'Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and look up, because your redemption is drawing nigh.' Alas, it was not so for Aeschylus...

The tragic Oresteia trilogy of Aeschylus is based on a cycle of violence and vengeance. In the first play Agamemnon, the King and leader of the Greek soldiers who captured Troy, is murdered by his wife, Klytemnestra. In the second, their son and daughter, Orestes and Elektra, plot revenge on their mother, and Orestes kills her. He is then threatened by the Furies for doing so and flees. The Furies are mythical, very scary avengers of crime, especially family murders. The third is the trial of Orestes who is accused by the Furies. When the Athenian judges have a split vote, Athene gives her casting vote to Orestes.

Now Molora, at the Barbican, weaves this tragic story into new patterns. It begins with the trial scene, but 'not as we know it', for this is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was chaired by Desmond Tutu. Tutu does not appear in the play, but is mentioned with awe and appreciation in the programme. The mother and daughter face each other across the stage, behind desks with microphones on them and speak of what had happened.

Later we see what they were talking about when the white mother, Klytemnestra, abused her black daughter, Elektra, using apartheid-era torture methods, including holding her head under water in a bowl and keeping her head in a wet plastic bag. The arrival from exile of the black Orestes, the son, and the recognition of him by Elektra, is very moving. The plot of vengeance is frightening.

Why am I relating all this to you? Because the ending is changed. The cycle of violence and vengeance, according to the ancient written tragedy, is stopped. And there is hope.

There is not blood and death all over the place at the end. Orestes can't bring himself to kill his mother and the axe dramatically does not come down on her head. When Elektra takes it up to kill her mother herself, because Orestes has bottled out, she is wrestled away by the Chorus of mamas. They carry her, still struggling, to the side of the stage and over a few minutes of singing and soothing, murmuring and caressing, calm her down.

The wrong is righted by the end being rewritten. The Chorus enter into the drama, physically, and does not just comment on it. 'Molora' is the Sesotho word for 'ash'. When fire is met with fire, all that remains is ashes.
Now the Anglican Communion is caught up in a cycle of verbal and litigious violence and vengeance. It is not physical as in this trilogy, but is still heart rending and shocking. The litigation and splits that are happening in the USA, and which are being planned to extend to the Anglican Communion - need to stop. Some of the leaders of GAFCON have plans to set up a non-Canterbury centred Communion. This is openly being discussed on conservative web sites in the USA.

Even this week, the Bishop of Bungoma in Western Kenya, Dr Eliud Wabukala, is reported as saying about GAFCON, 'Does it mean we are starting our own church? The answer is that we are going there to seek God's will.'

It is a crucial time and some of the other leaders of the Global South Anglican movement who may be there, but are also deeply involved in the Lambeth Conference, need to persuade them against this act of vengence. For that is what it would be. To set up a rival Anglican Communion, not centred on Canterbury, would be an act of vengence. You have done that to me, so I will do this to you.

There is another way. It is the way of faith in the cross and in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

3. Faith: learning through mystery plays

Another South African recontextulasation comes to mind.

'The Mysteries', are the spectacular South African update of the medieval Chester mystery plays. In 2002, they played to packed houses at the Wilton Music Hall in the East End, near the Tower of London, and then later at the Queen's Theatre in the West End.

Mark Dornford-May had gathered talented young South Africans from the townships and reworked the mystery plays with dance, song, and drumming into that context, using a mixture of languages - Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, English and even some Latin.

The vibrancy and energy of the story and of the cast was extraordinary. The context in South African townships was compelling - complete with Pilate as a white governor and black murders through 'necklacing' (setting fire to a tyre placed around the neck). The sheer range of the biblical story was breathtakingly portrayed. Noah's party after the flood was interrupted by the arrival of God: everyone froze, worried about celebrating too much. But God broke the tension by tapping the wine bottle he was carrying and joining in the party.

In particular I enjoyed the sheer humanity of Jesus. He had difficulty learning a rhythmic hand slap 'code' from his mother but then used this to great effect in calling his disciples. When they were huddled in the upper room, after his crucifixion, they were not sure it was he who suddenly appeared. Then he performed the rhythmic slap again, slowly at first, which was picked up by his followers. Again after tragedy, recognition, joy and dance intermingle.

At the beginning of the play, creation is sung into existence by God with a haunting song. After the interval, the young Jesus plays the same theme on his tin whistle. At the end, the risen Jesus bursts into the same theme with a resurrection song. The resurrection of the Son of God involves new creation.

Rowan Williams, in his Advent Letter of 2007, referred to his earlier invitations to the Lambeth Conference and wrote that:

a refusal to meet can be a refusal of the cross - and so of the resurrection. We are being asked to see our handling of conflict and potential division as part of our maturing both as pastors and as disciples. I do not think this is either an incidental matter or an evasion of more basic questions.

In the video introducing the Conference, released this week, the Archbishop says:

What I would really most like to see in this year's Lambeth Conference is the sense that this is essentially a spiritual encounter. A time when people are encountering God as they encounter one another, a time when people will feel that their life of prayer and witness is being deepened and their resources are being stretched.

4. Fellowship: learning through thinking and being together

This leads us into our third word, 'Fellowship' and into the thought of a remarkable woman, Gillian Rose, who died in 1995.

She was Jewish and an ardent seeker of the kingdom of God. She was a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Warwick, and had discussions with Rowan Williams over a period of ten years concerning these matters. Simon Barrington-Ward, was drawn into these when he was Bishop of Coventry, and it was he who baptized her on the day she died, as Rowan Williams was speaking at a conference at Warwick, which she had organized. The Archbishop's set of three poems, 'Winterreise: for Gillian Rose, 9 December 1995', is very moving. Her final book was a powerful memoir entitled 'Love's Work'. Andrew Shanks has written the first major book on her thought from a theological point of view, entitled 'Against Innocence' (London: SCM press, 2008), which is published on Wednesday 30 April.

In 1991, when she was still alive, Rowan Williams published an essay drawing on her work, 'Between politics and metaphysics: reflections in the wake of Gillian Rose'. Recently it has been republished in his collection, edited by Mike Higton, 'Wrestling with Angels'. He wrote:

Central to Rose's concern is the philosophical importance of error and the recognisability of error. To recognize misperception is to learn; to learn is to reimagine or reconceive the self; and this in turn is to encounter the 'violence' - a crucially significant and difficult word in Rose's recent oeuvre - that is inescapably involved in our position towards others and towards ourselves. It is because this violence is always presupposed by our particular positions in any network of relations that law is required in our sociality. And the insistence on a sociality never 'mended' in a final way (another recurrent theme) is precisely what raises, obliquely but inexorably, a religious question; not the facile and tempting question of law's relation to grace, but the harder one of how the very experience of learning and of negotiation can be read as something to do with God.

Rowan Williams, Mike Higton (ed.), Wrestling with Angels: Conversations with Modern Theology Rowan Williams, chapter 4 'Between politics and metaphysics: reflections in the wake of Gillian Rose', (London: SCM press, 2007), p60.

Let's look again at that dense, tightly packed paragraph and apply it to our concerns today.

(a) 'The importance of error and the recognisability of error.'

The consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire, who is in a sexual relationship outside of marriage, has been recognized by the Anglican Communion, but not yet by The Episcopal Church, as an error. It was warned against by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates' Meeting in Brazil in May 2003, and in London in October 2003, but the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church at the time, Frank Griswold, went ahead with the consecration in November 2003. Later he had to withdraw from being Chair of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission. Interestingly, concerning the relationship between The Episcopal Church and Roman Catholicism, his successor as Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts-Schori, opted to open the diocesan offices in Utah rather than to attend the ecumenical service led by Pope Benedict XVI in New York earlier this month, on 18 April.

The Windsor Report recommended that the Bishop of New Hampshire should not be invited to the Lambeth Conference and, in spite of considerable pressure, he has not received an invitation.

I am reminded of the remark of Sidney Smith who, when he was in Edinburgh, heard two women arguing from flats high up on either side of a road. He said to his friend, 'They'll never agree.' When asked 'why not?', he replied, 'They're arguing from different premises.'

The Episcopal Church has expressed regret for the hurt caused by the consecration to others in the Anglican Communion, but not for the fact of the consecration. It has announced a 'moratorium' on the consecration of non-celibate gay and lesbian persons as bishops (Resolution B003 of the General Convention 2006, elucidated by the New Orleans House of Bishops statement September 2007), but it is still unclear whether this will continue after 2009.

The Episcopal Church continues to 'wink' at local public services of blessing of same-sex unions, though technically, it has not centrally authorized such public rites.

(b) 'To recognize misperception is to learn; to learn is to reimagine or reconceive the self; and this in turn is to encounter the 'violence' that is inescapably involved in our position towards others and towards ourselves.'

In the video mentioned above, the Archbishop makes it clear that learning from each other, and from God, how to be bishops together, is a key part of the conference.

Henry Chadwick, in his book The Church in Ancient Society, wrote:

Echoing Cyprian himself, Augustine was sure that 'there were many things the learned Cyprian could teach: but there were also things that the teachable Cyprian could learn.'

Henry Chadwick, The Church in Ancient Society (Oxford: OUP, 2001) p. 383

Reimagining, reconceiving and, we may add, reshaping the Anglican Communion in the light of this crisis, has an enormous potential for learning. This is not a peaceful learning and is likely to involve some form of 'violence' towards others and towards ourselves. Those not invited to the Lambeth Conference at first, the Bishop of New Hampshire and the then Bishop of Harare, may have experienced this as a violent rejection. Those who may soon be receiving the 'painful letters' that Tom Wright referred to in his Fulcrum Conference address on 12 April, may well also have similar feelings. It is not easy, but it is part of the process of learning as a body. The concepts of 'constituent' and 'associate' members of the Anglican Communion, mentioned in the Archbishop of Canterbury's address, 'The Challenge and Hope of Being an Anglican Today' (June 2006), and elucidated in his address to General Synod (July 2006), may again have come over as somewhat threatening to some, but they are important.

(c) 'It is because this 'violence' is always presupposed by our particular positions in any network of relations that law is required in our sociality.'

It may be that this 'sociality' could be referred to the Anglican Communion and the 'law' to the concept of an Anglican Covenant. The St Andrew's Draft of an Anglican Covenant will be discussed during the Lambeth Conference. Before the vote on the concept of a covenant in General Synod in July last year, I wrote, with Jonathan Clark of Affirming Catholicism, an article entitled 'Stretching and the Spirit'. We stressed the invigoration that comes from being stretched and that seeing the covenant as a calling of the Holy Spirit may be a new way of looking at it.

However we may view it, the Covenant concerns ecclesiology and Canon Law. Although Geoffrey Fisher's archiepiscopate (1945-61) is sometimes remembered as somewhat dull, two key features of it were the vital revision of Canon Law, in the Church of England, and the granting of provincial autonomy to various provinces of the Anglican Communion, with bases in Canon Law. Max Warren, the General Secretary of the Church Missionary Society (1942-63) was, in effect, Fisher's Foreign Secretary and a man of immense influence in this work. In his autobiography, Crowded Canvas (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1974, p166), Warren related the story of happening to be with Fisher when the latter was on retreat at St Julian's before his enthronement as Archbishop. Fisher called Warren in and asked his advice about drafting the constitution of an African diocese.

Things are quite rightly very different now. The Communion has come of age. The Archiepiscopate of Rowan Williams is anything but dull and again we are in a period of reshaping the Anglican Communion. Reshaping is much better than splitting. It seems to me that GAFCON is about splitting and Lambeth is about reshaping.

(d) 'The very experience of learning and of negotiation can be read as something to do with God.'

This may be referred to the profound insight and challenge that, in coming to the Lambeth Conference, bishops are coming to meet with God.

It is encouraging that the Conference begins with a retreat, and then moves into learning about being bishops from Scripture and prayer and from each other, encountering God in all three aspects. It is important to see that the learning and negotiation involved in the Anglican Covenant also involves a meeting with God. If not seen in this light, it is reduced to politics and legalism. Maybe this is the greatest challenge of all for the conference.

So, for our theme of Faith and Fellowship in Crisis, we have considered Paul's letter to the church at Philippi, the drama of ancient theatre reinterpreted for today and the challenge of contemporary philosophical thought. In some ways, perhaps, this could be seen as Scripture, tradition and reason.

As the bishops gather this summer, may God have mercy on the Anglican Communion and may the Anglican Communion delight in God. I conclude with the words of God through the words of St Paul to his beloved church at Philippi:

Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

(Philippians 4:6-7)


Graham Kings

Graham Kings


A bronze

Wood panel

Wood panel