Wednesday, July 16, 2008
I missed a report from yesterday (Tuesday). It was really a day off, with a trip to London where we had lunch on a boat cruise that sailed up the Thames. It was warm and sunny and a great way to see the city. After lunch we visited an art gallery and ended up looking for the Church of St Olaf, where a literary favorite of mine, Samuel Pepys, is buried. Then it was home to St. Albans and dinner with our hosts.
Shortly after lunch today we set out from St Albans with a few of the other bishops who had been staying in the St Alban’s area. A rented van transported us all to Canterbury in about 2 hours. We arrived to a scene of some confusion. The communications officer for St Albans had arranged for a “photo-shot” with the Archbishop of Canterbury, but no one seemed to know where it was to take place or what we were supposed to do. We finally arrived at the palace next to the cathedral, and were met by the ABC. He walked us to the lawn of the cathedral where a horde of press people took our picture. Laura got a few herself for you to look at. Although there were scores of photo journalists, only one fellow from the BBC World Service seemed interested in talking to us.
We then drove up to the University of Kent, which is located on a hill overlooking the cathedral which is a couple of miles away. Although the check in procedure was well organized, a computer malfunction meant that most had to wait some time before getting their rooms. We have single rooms next to each other. They are clean and “adequate” although we overlook a fairly busy road, so the traffic noise is annoying. Before we left St Alban’s today, I went to the Woolworth’s store and bought two inexpensive electric fans which will help to create white sound, and also to give us a little ventilation. Although it is only about 70, the humidity makes it feel warm and close.
We had our first welcome by the Archbishop and instructions about the coming days in the “big top” a huge tent in the center of campus. We were also given electronic translators to use, since presentations will be given in 7 or 8 languages.
That meeting was followed by a dinner which took a long time, given the number who had to be served. The food, however, was quite good and worth the wait.
That is the news from here tonight, on the first evening of the conference.