Wayne Smith's occasional blog of pilgrimages and journeys

Monday, July 21, 2008

Monday, July 21. Indaba groups begin.

Following today's Bible study, I joined a group of thirty-six other bishops to begin the discernment of some of the substantive issues before us. The whole process, which makes its way from these smallish groups to the whole Lambeth Conference, is labor-intensive, and I will say that we worked very hard. The outcome, if the process works, will be in some consensual statements arrived at by the end of the Conference--no debating on the floor, no voting, no working of parliamentary procedures. Indaba is a concept of working toward consensus and, a process adapted for Lambeth from a South African culture. The purpose, as I understand it, is to prevent yes-or-no votes, polarizing statements, winners and losers. Consensus steers toward that which resonates with a group as a whole, that which people can live with; by definition, it lacks a divisive edge. We shall see how the process has worked, at the Conference's end.

Our first assignments in two sessions today had to do with the ministry of bishops and Anglican identity. We have an "animateur" (a bishop) to facilitate every Indaba group, and we also have a "reporteur" (not a bishop) to record the discussions of the group. Both roles were handled adeptly, and they were both obviously well prepped for the work given them. The product our group arrived at on these two issues will then be collated with the reports of all the other groups, the point being to look for those places of agreement. Representatives writers from every group will then work together, with these reports before them, to prepare a draft statement, which will then go to the whole Conference. God willing, we will have a mind-of-the-Conference position at the end of the work.

Then tonight, in a plenary session, we heard Brian McLaren's presentation on the dynamics of making disciples in a rapidly changing world. His point, not a new one but one which he convincingly presented, is that the ways of the modern world, to which the Church for five hundred years has accommodated (or over-accommodated) are losing their currency. He also suggested that in the three basic cultures in place in the current world--non-modern, modern, and whatever it is that you want to call the one after that--the Church has yet to find a voice. He pointedly challenged this Conference to work in finding one, saying that the Anglican way has within it distinct gifts to do so. The coexistence of the three cultures, he also said, has in it the makings of many of the conflicts in a world-wide communion like ours. A long evening well spent.

4 comments:

Kathi said...

Bishop Smith~ I feel like I am also journeying along on your pilgrimage. You and the others continue to be in my prayers. Peace~K

suzanne w said...

Bishop Smith, I agree with Kathi. Your posts allow us to experience Lambeth with you. The Indaba groups sound interesting. They remind me of exercises we practiced in my meditation training. Of course, this is all based on “being heard” so that there are no misunderstandings. I will continue to pray for you and all the Bishops. Peace, S.

Lisa Fox said...

You wrote: "The purpose, as I understand it, is to prevent yes-or-no votes, polarizing statements, winners and losers. Consensus steers toward that which resonates with a group as a whole, that which people can live with; by definition, it lacks a divisive edge."

I pray that me be so.

The word coming today from the ECS does not give me hope, but cuts like a sword of division. I hope you may be able to talk with your brother bishops and give some word of hope to your diocese back home.

Pat in Phoenix said...

Bishop Smith,
Thank you for your articulate and concise description of the indaba process. I join Lisa Fox in hopes for your non-judgmental and open-minded acceptance of this process to spread among all bishops.

I pray for the continuing unity of the Anglican Communion with recognition that cultural differences need to be accommodated so that all baptised Christians may be free to respect the dignity of every human being.

May the Holy Spirit enrich Indaba participation to engender good solutions, and God bless you all for your work at Lambeth.