I've just finished an afternoon hearing on the Windsor Continuation Report. I've attached a video in which the American bishop on that committee, Gary Lillebridge of West Texas, is introducing the report. You can see from the large turn-out, that many of us were VERY interested in what was being said here. This little committee was set up by the ABC as a way to monitor the progress being made in implementing the Windsor report (a document which technically has no authority in first place). The existence of this group is regarded by many in the American House as suspect, and it became clear that the majority who spoke at today's hearing were opposed to it and to its conclusions that we needed to strengthen the authority of the "instruments of communion" namely, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates Meeting, and the Lambeth Conference. The thesis of the report is that the old description of the Anglican Communion as being made of provinces with "autonomy-in-communion," was no longer enough to hold things together, and that what we need is "communion with autonomy and accountability." That seems to me to be coded language for "communion with discipline and exclusion" for those who don't toe the line set down by the instruments of communion. The vast majority of the bishops who came to the microphone seemed to agree with me. Out of about 20 who spoke, only one approved of the Committee's report. There is suspicion on the part of some, including me, that this report and the Covenant it calls for (at is stands in its current draft form) are attempts to invest power in the ABC and Primates and centralize authority with them. This seems to me to be a very un-Anglican thing to do! I suspect that we will have to come up with some kind of a Covenant, but one which is far less exclusive and authoritarian than what has been suggested so far. So you can see, we are getting a bit more feisty, although the mood in our small groups continues to be open and friendly.
Some upset was provided last night by the Archbishop of the Sudan who suggested that Gene Robinson should resign for the good of the Communion. The church in the Sudan has close ties to many American dioceses (including ours), and this remark has caused a fair amount of dismay. And the TEC had planned a reception for the Sudanese bishops on Saturday! There is bound to be some interesting conversation over white wine!
Tomorrow is the BIG DAY when we travel to London. We leave at 7 in the morning, and (some of us) will first take part in a march downtown in support of the Millennium Development Goals. We will walk from Westminster to Lambeth Palace on the other side of the Thames. There we will have lunch before getting on buses for tea at Buckingham Palace. No cameras or phones are allowed on the grounds, so I you will have to settle for a verbal account. The weather is supposed to be partly cloudy and warm. My guess is I will be wishing my purple cassock was air-conditioned.