A sweltering gym was the venue for his afternoon's third hearing on the Windsor Continuation Report. The attached video was taken just before we got started. The room was packed, and Laura and I were setting next to the exit, trying to get some cool air. Note Rowan Williams sitting on the floor right in front of Laura.
If you are wondering where this group came from and what its purpose is, you are not alone. It was created by the Archbishop to advise him about the Windsor report, but it has taken on a life and authority of its own. There is only one American Bishop on the Committee, and no one in the group is supportive of Gene Robinson's position--hardly representative. Yet it seems now that this group has assumed the task of plotting the future of the Communion. You can read the whole text of their report on Episcopal Cafe or the Episcopal News Service websites, but its recommendations are briefly these, none of which I feel is helpful: 1. Enforce the moratoria against blessings of same-sex unions, partnered gay bishops, and cross border incursions. 2. Create a "Forum" which would investigate violations and recommend actions, including possible discipline. 3. Halt legal actions, placing those groups who had left their provinces "in trust" until they could be reunited with their rightful bishops.
Again, if you wonder what this all means, so do most of us. The document raises as many questions as it answers. Its pretty clear thought that its purpose is to punish the American (and Canadian) Church. What was even more disappointing than the document was the attitude of some of those at the hearing. The American Church was viewed as the cause of all the problems of the communion, and is even referred to in the document as a "dysfunctional family." I felt this afternoon that TEC had been back into a corner, which is exactly where some would like to see us.
However, the good news is that 1)These are only recommendations, the Conference is not voting or approving anything. That will come later when the Anglican Consultative Council meets in the Spring. 2) We still have a week to make our case to our colleagues, and 3)Many of them are already supportive of American position.
The question now is, can the good will that has been generated over the last week get us through the difficult discussions of the coming week? So there is hope even at the end of this rather depressing day.
We redeemed the evening by having dinner off campus with Chuck Robertson, known to many of you. He is enjoying his role as behind the scenes shuttle diplomat.