Monday, July 21, 2008

From Lambeth ... from Mid-Court

...from Virginia Theological Seminary's "Center for Anglican Communion Studies" ...

From Lambeth...

From Mid-Court

Well, here we are at the Lambeth Conference in a place called Canterbury. Our VTS “booth” or hospitality center is located at the Lambeth Markeplace in the Sports Centre of the University of Kent. That seems to be an appropriate location for us at this Wimbledon of Anglicanism. We are watching the fast volleys from our courtside perch! No match-point yet!

All kidding aside, you cannot miss the gravity of this event. In the history of the Communion, the Conference may be its most critical hour. It is a time which calls for great sacrifice and wisdom, and so we pray fervently for all the delegates and all who surround and support them.

Last week, the initial days in retreat with Rowan Williams set the right tone. The Archbishop met with his guests in the great nave of Canterbury Cathedral.

His opening address last evening left the impression that Anglicans will have a “Covenant” as this Conference concludes.

But there seems to me to be a larger question than the proposed Anglican Covenant: Will the Conference find the Anglican Communion recovering its religious imagination?

We have misplaced one of the great gifts of Anglicanism to the rest of Christendom: The ability to think outside the box and to imagine a church and a world that does not yet exist. Will we be clear about what we value as Anglicans in a changing church and world once we go home from this sacred place? How do we nurture Gospel values in a church conversation that could dwell on misplaced values? Our history teaches us that we are a broad church, but of late we have asked narrow questions and taken narrow positions. As we deal with current matters, are we connected with our long history and our early church identity? Can we imagine a new Church for this historic Christian way called Anglican?

Barney Hawkins

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