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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

But, what will you be doing at Lambeth?

I get that question a lot.

Don't think that those of us who are not actually part of the Lambeth Conference (i.e. a bishop or primate) haven't asked that question of ourselves at least several times a day.

I have no doubt that those of my colleagues who are already there aren't asking themselves at least once a day, "Tell me again, why is it that I'm here?"

Let me begin by saying that I was there 10 years ago at the last Lambeth Conference. That's a picture of Lambeth Palace just above, the place where the Archbishop of Canterbury lives and moves and has his being.

It's right on the campus of Canterbury Cathedral, in the midst of a beautiful close where tourists form a steady stream in and out of the other buildings on the campus, taking tours of the Cathedral and the magnificent gardens.

And, that's not where the conference will be held.

We'll be at the University of Kent, just outside of Canterbury. The accommodations there, as I recall, are pretty close to spartan without being painfully uncomfortable. Two twin beds with plastic covered mattresses. Bare shelves. A desk with a lamp. Bathrooms in the hall. You know. A typical dorm room in summer.

Make no mistake: this is no ecclesiastical junket we're on. It should be as luxurious as a 'bus man's holiday'.

The campus is huge, so schlepping is a daily reality. As I recall (and see by the map), there is a pub on campus where one can get some beer (I don't drink beer) and other heavy, deep fried carbohydrates and sweet things.

Ah, the British! What would they ever do without a skillet and a 5 pound bag of sugar?

I'll be ordering out. A lot. Which, as I recall, is not such a bad thing. There are lots of varied ethnic restaurants in the area - mostly Indian, but a few good Chinese places - and pubs. Lots of pubs with 'pasties' (sandwiches) and salads.

I'll survive.

So, I'll be schlepping and eating. What will I be doing at Lambeth?

The short answer, for me, at least, is that I'll be representing The Episcopal Women's Caucus as their national president. That means that I'll be part of the journalism team, together with Herb Gunn, writing for Ruach, the publication of The Caucus.

As a member of the CTB Steering Committee, I'll also be writing for the international LGBT team ("The St. Anne's Group" - you can see our membership at Integrity's website "Walking With Integrity") who will be posting daily there.

We'll also be printing and distributing a daily "news sheet" which will be available for the bishops and primates (the way we do at General Convention).

Oh, yes. And, I'll be blogging. Of course.

There are other fabulous bloggers there:

Gene has a daily blog "Canterbury Tales from the Fringe" as well as a daily video blog "The Lambeth Gene Pool."

Integrity's President and intrepid blogger (and #34 on the Telegraph's "Fifty Most Influential Anglicans" list), is running a daily blog with pictures over at "Inch At A Time."

Katie Sherod's "Wilderness Garden" is, well, "Dr. Sherod" at her best.

The Mad One
is also blogging from afar, providing us with his own particular perspective of the goings on at Lambeth.

"Our own" Allie ("Tales from a Lambeth Steward")and Luiz and "my" Michael are part of the Lambeth Stewards who will be helping the bishops schlep when they aren't in their indaba bible study groups.

You can find more blogs, as well as an ENS (Episcopal News Service) feed, a link to the most fabulous Episcopal Cafe as well as a list of the blogs of some of our "worthy opponents" at "Walking With Integrity" and "The Gene Pool" by clicking on "Lambeth LGBT Portal"

I know. Sounds like "information overload" right? There will be no paucity of perspectives of the goings on. It's all about choices - theirs and yours.

Apart from writing, I'll be networking with other women's groups. I'm keen to provide a vehicle for the voices of women around the world who will also be gathered there with whom I hope to spend some time listening to their stories.

If I had to sum up an answer in two words, they would be: Incarnation. And, Evangelism.

It's all about presence. About showing up. About being there. About living the Gospel story and telling how it is I see the Good News of Jesus Christ being lived out and revealed in our midst.

It's some of the hardest work I've ever done. It's also dangerous. It has been ever thus with the Incarnation and the work of evangelism.

If you do nothing else today, go over to the Gene Pool and watch the video of Gene's Sermon at Putney.

You'll see there a man in a kevlar vest under his vestments being heckled by a young man who is screaming at him that he's a heretic.

And, what is Gene's sermon message?

"Be not afraid."

I've known Gene for more than 20 years and I must tell you that while he's always preached the same gospel with the same wonderful, inspiring message, he's never been better. The man is truly called to this work.

I'll be leaving for Lambeth on the 6:35 PM plane Sunday evening. I've got many piles of clothes to sort through, select carefully and pack before I leave.

The impulse for pacing light comes not just from the additional cost the airlines are charging for heavy bags. No, it's that I remember well that the train stations in Briton have neither escalators or elevators, and I never saw a "red cap" once.

A girl can only schlep up and down stairwells so far with heavy bags by herself.

Please, do keep Gene in your daily prayers, along will all of us who are showing up for Lambeth and scattering the seeds of the Good News of Christ Jesus.

Let us pray: Pour down upon us, O God, the gifts of your Holy Spirit, that those who prepare for the Lambeth Conference may be filled with wisdom and understanding. May they know at work within them that creative energy and vision which belong to our humanity, made in your image and redeemed by your love, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


marnanel said...

Is there a cut-and-paste problem here? You have "That's a picture of Lambeth Palace just above[...] It's right on the campus of Canterbury Cathedral". I assume you mean the University is on the campus of the Cathedral, rather than Lambeth Palace, but you don't mention the University until the next paragraph.

Anyway, I shall be reading your blog with even more interest than usual. Thanks for the link to the St Anne's group-- my reading list will be at least temporarily expanded. Have a wonderful, prayerful, and worthwhile time.

Brother David said...

¡Vaya con Dios, Madre Elizabeth!

Unknown said...

Thanks for all of your hard work - I wish you safe travels!

Allie said...

Actually, all the bedrooms, at least on campus, are singles. Far more comfortable than anything I've seen at most US universities....

Can't wait to see you and thanks for the shout out

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hi, marnamel. Sorry for the confusion. Lambeth Palace is on the campus of Canterbury Cathedral. The University of Kent has its own campus. I think the confusion came with using the word "campus" which is how the British - and some Americans, if fact - describe the land and buildings which belong to the church.

Ola, David. Gracias.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Allie - ah, then a few things have changed in 10 years. Or, perhaps last time I was in the Freshman Dorm and you are in the Senior or Grad School Dorms (or, whatever their equivilent is.)

Thanks Yank. I hope for safe travels as well.

the Reverend boy said...

God's blessings be with you! I know you'll represent the ECW well!

Erika Baker said...

I would have thought the food has changed too - I don't recognise the descriptions of much of what you had to put up with 10 years ago.
As for pasties, they're not sandwiches but individual pastry cases with various hot fillings.
But the ARE brown and stodgy.

marnanel said...

Rev Elizabeth:

So what you were saying was that Lambeth Palace stands on land owned by Canterbury Cathedral, and not that it's physically anywhere near it? Oh, I see. I hadn't run into that use of "campus" before-- thanks.

Brother David said...

I think Mother Elizabeth you are in error. Lambeth Palace is the ABC's London residence and is not on the Cathedral precincts in Canterbury.

I cannot find mention of an actual residence in Canterbury.

Daniel Weir said...

Lambeth Palace is in London.

Dave Walker said...

Some local knowledge: Lambeth Palace is in London, not Canterbury.

Brian R said...

Sorry your Geography is way out
"Lambeth Palace is located in Lambeth, on the south bank of the River Thames a short distance upstream of the Palace of Westminster on the opposite shore." That is at least 50 miles from Canterbury Cathedral.
Blessings on your work but do not try to schlepp (does that mean walk?) from Canterbury to Lambeth :-)

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hmmm . . . well, I guess it's true what they say about brain cells diminishing with age. I thought sure I remembered being told that Lambeth Palace was on the Cathedral campus at Canterbury.

I guess the problem is not so much geography as that I have to increase my daily intake of Ginko.

My apologies.

And, yes, Erika, "pasties" are more like "hot pockets" than they are sandwiches.

Thanks for all your good wishes.

Fran said...

You know how connected I feel to this community Elizabeth, and we are all one in the end.

Many prayers to you and to all from me as you journey.


Dennis said...

Have a great trip. I've been dreading this Lambeth and what the rightwingers were going to pull - but for some reason I am more hopeful lately. Perhaps I'm being naive. Maybe not.

So I'm hoping that you are there to see the turning point when everything changes. For good.

Fingers crossed.

Stay safe and Godspeed.

Mary Clara said...

The Archbishop has a residence within the Cathedral precincts at Canterbury in addition to his main residence at Lambeth Palace in London.

The University of Kent is located in, not outside of, Canterbury.

Have a wonderful time, Elizabeth! I'm looking forward to your reports from the scene.