"Postpone current plans for the Lambeth Conference (as has been done before).
Allow the current tensions to subside and leave room for the hard work of reconciliation that is a prerequisite for the fellowship we all desire.
Confirm that those invited to the Lambeth Conference have already endorsed the Anglican Covenant and so are able to come together as witnesses to our common faith."
The wind up for the pitch involved several convoluted arguments, the most interesting of which was a long section on the dangers faced by traditionalist Anglicans in attending the Lambeth Conference. They cited the following:
"We are also concerned about the abuse directed towards those who hold to traditional views on matters of Human Sexuality. The spate of hostility in the UK is alarming.
We are all witnesses to:
- The presence of placard carrying and leaflets distributing campaigners at the last Lambeth Conference distracting Bishops who travelled thousands of miles for fellowship. These protesters effectively shifted the focus of the conference to human sexuality - as if that was all that mattered.
- The physical assaults against clergymen with opposing view, such as your predecessor attacked in his own Cathedral pulpit, and a Kenyan bishop assaulted by two people dressed as clergymen.
- The occasion when your own General Synod was disrupted by protestors angry over the handling of the Canon Jeffery John issue.
- Recent attempts to mandate unbiblical views in the UK through force of law and the protests and attacks by activists determined to disrupt and intimidate any group that seeks to uphold biblical teaching.
In truth anyone who does not embrace revisionist views is a potential target. We know it is possible to provide some security to minimize such occurrences but is the additional cost justifiable? Would the resultant atmosphere of fear and uncertainty be conducive to the goals of such a large gathering of bishops?"
So the bishops feel Lambeth will be dangerous for them. Odd, since by all accounts they saw the last Lambeth Conference as a remarkable success for their position and some of them went to considerable lengths to confront and exorcise persons they felt needed the benefit of their wisdom and power.
Times change, however, and perhaps they are saying they do not feel they would be welcome in England these days. A the very least an odd argument.
The letter moves on, however, to the final stance prior to the pitch:
"...in our opinion there is a way forward. The proposed Anglican Communion Covenant is the one way for us to uphold our common heritage of faith while at the same time holding each other accountable to those teachings that have defined our life together and also guide us into the future. It has already received enthusiastic support from the majority of the Communion.
Therefore we propose the following action plan:
As a matter of utmost urgency, call a special session of the Primates Meeting
- Receive the responses made by The Episcopal Church to the Dromantine and Dar es Salaam Communiqués and determine their adequacy.
- Arrive at a consensus for the application of the Windsor Process especially in Provinces whose self-understanding is at odds with the predominant mind of the communion.
- Set in motion an agreed process to finalize the Anglican Covenant Proposal and set a timetable for its ratification by individual provinces.
This cannot be done at the Lambeth Conference because it is simply too large and, we all know, the Anglican Covenant requires individual provincial endorsement and signature."
It is at this point that the bishops return to the pitch:
"Postpone current plans for the Lambeth Conference..."
Taken together the message is this:
It is dangerous for us to go to Lambeth, there is too much criticism of the truth in England, an unbiblical nest of meanness.
The Anglican Covenant (which most of us know is in draft form subject to considerable more work at Lambeth and beyond) is the new marker - Windsor having failed, and all those Primates Communiques not withstanding - and it becomes the benchmark for inclusion in the life of the Communion.
Lambeth should be postponed because they might have to talk to our enemies and those who hate them, and beside that there is a "a high level of distrust, dislike and disdain for one another" that would make conversation difficult.
Well, this should give the Archbishop something to think about as he prepares to meet with the Episcopal Church House of Bishops this next week.
It would seem that the bishops of Nigeria will not go where there is too much criticism, where there is distrust, etc, and where there are unclean persons.
In other words, if Lambeth is held next year in England, they are not going.
Times to let the chairs out to others, I suppose. Perhaps the Porvoo folk would like to come, or the ELCA? I think there is something biblical about invitations not taken.
Look it up. It's in the Book.