In mid-July, the historic Canterbury Cathedral, in the United Kingdom, hosted the Lambeth Conference, a once-a-decade assembly that brings together around 650 bishops and archbishops, leaders of an estimated 80 million Anglicans Christians worldwide.
At least seven lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Anglican (mostly American) organizations attended the meeting in support of “full inclusion of LGBT people in the life and ministry of the churches of the Anglican Communion”. Conservative bishops strongly disapprove of the movement and have even threatened to divide the church. According to the Economist, bishops from Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda with more traditionalist parishes refused to attend the meeting in protest.
One of the most controversial liberal figures is Bishop Gene Robinson, an openly gay, non-celibate, 61-year-old Episcopalian bishop of New Hampshire, USA. He was not permitted to enter the meeting, but he opened a video blog devoted to the Lambeth event, called The Gene Pool, where he offered almost daily video commentaries.
In one video, he addresses the LGBT Episcopalian community with words of hope and strength.
The bishop's video-posts are paired with a flow of comments, always engaging even when expressing different views.
One commenter, Una, says:
Thank you Gene. I am a straight believer in God's love for ALL people, irrespective of race, religion, sex, gender. I too pray that those of us who live in countries where hush-hush is the order of the day can stand with you in open honesty about who we are as Christians in our own cultures. Like you, I continue to hope, though I am not an optimist in regard to the Lambeth outcome.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has done his best to keep the church together, and not made outspoken statements in support of LGBT rights, in spite of being known to hold more liberal views. Bishop Gene Robinson takes aim at Rowan Williams’ “centrist stance” in a post on his other blog Canterbury Tales from the Fringe:
The morning we left Edinburgh, the headlines in the London Times announced the publication of letters sent by +Rowan Williams several years ago, in response to a conservative evangelical, in which he says that after many years of study and prayer, he has concluded that faithful, life-long-intentioned, monogamous love between two people of the same sex is NOT prohibited by scripture — and that scripture simply does not address this new phenomenon. Precisely what I and others have been saying all along.
(…) he has steadfastly done what he has said he would do: set his own personal understandings aside and take a centrist stance “for the good of the whole Church.” This is not news, folks! But it is indeed sad.
“…in spite of extraordinary pressure to do otherwise, the Archbishop of Canterbury has managed to achieve his stated goal of a Lambeth Conference of reflection rather than resolutions.
“The long predicted coup d'état that was going to emerge from this Lambeth Conference and vote the Americans and Canadians out of the Anglican Communion failed to materialize. There is much to be grateful for in that.”
Susan Russel also created this interesting photo album showing a great deal of grassroots activism in the Communication Centre, along with other lively behind-the-scene snapshots, during the Conference.
Photo republished from Susan Russell's Lambeth Conference Photo Blog
Acting as “a faithful witness of God's inclusive love to the Episcopal Church and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community”, Integrity USA also made effective use of citizen media in The Lambeth Witness, a daily publication from and about the Canterbury event managed by the coalition Inclusive Church Network.
Photo at top is of Caterbury Cathedral, by Sarah Hecht, republished under Creative Commons license.