July 31, 2008


Dear Friends:

Greetings again from Kent University in Canterbury…

Over the last couple of days we have directly addressed issues facing our Communion in our bible studies and Indaba Groups. In addition, this past Tuesday there was a joint plenary session of the Spouses Conference and the Bishops to reflect upon “The Abuse of Power” and the abuse in relationships in society.

The program Tuesday began with a dramatic presentation that juxtaposed several passages from scripture and the reality of abuse in our world. The drama set the stage for a two-hour bible study of 2 Samuel 13:1-22. In Samuel we read of Tamar who is abused at the hands of her half-brother Amnon. Through this reading we were invited to consider the sometimes unspoken reality of abuse in all parts of society and how we as church leaders are called to be voices and advocates for those who are victimized.

Our bible study on Wednesday addressed the interpretation of scripture. Our group consistently shared that there is no single method of biblical interpretation. We are aware that our interpretation is influenced by culture, context, experience, subject matter, audience, etc. This was not to say that we allow the environment to dictate the truth of the biblical message, but our interpretation is subjected to various factors.

As we continue to struggle as a Communion to find some common ground around biblical interpretation, we are aware of the difficulties created by our various languages. In conversation with other bishops it was shared that in one language there is no word that translates as “resurrection.” In another there is a void around the concept of the “Good Shepherd.”  And in another when Jesus sends out the seventy-two and they return with “joy,” the word “joy” is translated as they returned “wagging their tails.”

Obviously the variety of languages, dialects, and translations complicate our ability as a communion to do the difficult exegetical, hermeneutic, and interpretive work of scripture as it relates to the challenges of our Church.

Today, Thursday, has been referred in the local press as “Sex Day.” Our bible studies and Indaba groups focused on the issue of Human Sexuality. I am blessed with a group of bishops committed to and faithful in their generous conversations as we address these difficult issues. In both groups we spoke honestly and directly about our various contexts and the challenges before us.

The reality of our world is that some bishops find themselves ministering in a place where the mere conversation of sex is illegal. For others sexuality does not raise to a topic needing conversation; for others the government has enacted laws for the protection of Gay and Lesbian individuals and in some cases where it is suggested the Church has not responded appropriately, the Church has been brought before Human Rights Commissions.

When we consider the variety of cultural contexts, coupled with the diversity of biblical interpretation, then challenged by our Baptismal Covenant, you begin to understand the great challenge before each of us as we seek to live faithfully as the Body of Christ.

As a conference we continue to address the issues before us and seek ways to move forward. We have begun to develop a “Reflections Document” that is intended to give some account of our understanding of who we are as an Anglican Communion. It has been said repeatedly that there will be no definitive document from Lambeth that lays out practical steps to address the challenges and issues before us. That work is still ahead of us through the continuing Windsor and Covenant processes.

Certainly the few days left will influence the path we take as a Communion in the months and years ahead of how we will live together. I am still hopeful and prayerful we can find the grace, wisdom, and courage to find our way forward.



+Bishop Ed