Monday, July 28, 2008

Lambeth Letter #5

Saints:

The highlight of Friday was a presentation by 5 transgender folk. I filmed the testimony from the American speaker--Cam Partridge.



We also learned the good news that Nigerian LGBT activist Davis Mac-Iyalla--who spoke at 2 Saints a year ago--has been granted asylum in the UK. [Last Easter an attempt was made on Davis' life in Togo.]

On Saturday evening, an "inclusive communion" was held on campus sponsored by the Inclusive Church Network--the alliance with which Integrity USA is working during Lambeth. It was held in a lecture theatre. About 150 people attended. The Archbishop of Mexico presided and Lucy Winkett--a controversial female canon at St Paul’s Cathedral in London--preached.




Sunday was a complete day off--yeah! Since I had the benefit of the blessed sacrament the night before, I skipped church and drove 2.5 hours to see Stonehenge. The site was packed with hundreds of tourists like me. The stones are roped off so that visitors can see but not touch. A "Druid" was quietly protesting the lack of access to the circle. [They are only allowed inside during the summer solstice.]



I then drove a short way to Avebury--another neolithic sacred site that is older and larger than Stonehenge. The stones at Avebury are not as dramatic as those at Stonehenge, but there are LOTS of them spread out of a large area, and visitors can walk freely among them.

I imagined that some of my ancestors had a hand in constructing both these ancient holy places in their attempt to understand the creation and the Creator.



Now that the conference has slowed down at bit, I will confess to being somewhat homesick and lonesome. I am quite ready to return to the USA. One more week to go!

Your ambassador,

John Clinton Bradley

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Lambeth Letter #4

Saints:

It's been a busy week! I finally have a quite hour or so to myself since this is "London Day" when the bishops and their spouses travel to Buckingham Palace for tea with Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth II.

On Friday we finish setting up our Canterbury Communications Centre [3C].

On Saturday many more volunteers arrived. We held two training sessions. The first was a briefing for those likely to talk to British "journalists." [I put the term in quotes because most reporters in the UK are only interested in the scandalous and sensational.] The second was an orientation for all volunteers [below].





Speaking of British "journalists," Ruth Gledhill--a reporter from The Times whom I am convinced was the inspiration for Rita Skeeter in the Harry Potter series--paid us a visit in the 3C. One of the producers showed her [below] a preview of a new documentary--Voices of Witness: Africa--in post-production . There was some conflict on our team about the wisdom of trusting Rita, I mean Ruth, with this story. Much to my surprise she gave us positive coverage on her blog and other press pick it up.




On Sunday an open-air LGBT Eucharist was held. Colin Coward of Changing Attitude presided and Susan Russell of Integrity preached. Attendance was good. Many bishops from the Episcopal Church were present--including our own bishop, Prince Singh. Just before the start of the service, the American bishops walked [below] with Gene Robinson from the parish hall to the nearby athletic field where the Eucharist was held . Of course there was thunderous applause.




On Monday we distributed the first issue of our daily newsletter--The Lambeth Witness--. Although we had obtained all necessary permissions in advance, the head conference organizer objected to the fact that we were ACTIVELY HANDING THEM OUT rather than PASSIVELY DISPLAYING THEM. This is a green conference, and she deemed the latter less wasteful than the former. So, I spent a good part of my day figuring out out to construct 10 newspaper racks from materials available at Staples.

On Tuesday I spent most my day finalizing preparation for a screening of Voices of Witness along with a preview of Voices of Witness: Africa. Also arranged to have a paper folding module added to your photocopier so that our volunteers wouldn't have to stay up past midnight manually folding the newsletter.

I saw +Steve and Gretchen Lane on campus. They seemed hale and happy. Steve reported that some of the Global South bishops are dissatisfied with the "indaba" small-group conversation process being used because it doesn't give them a forum to express their views.

On Wednesday several of our newspaper racks were vandalized. Campus security, rather thin on the ground, is investigating the matter. We also will be posting monitors at the known trouble spots.

In the evening we previewed Voices of Witness: Africa and showed Voices of Witness in a large lecture theatre. Several of the Africans highlighted in the preview--Bishop Christopher Ssenyonjo, Father Michael Kimindu, Davis Mac-Iyalla, and Mia Nikasimo answered questions [below].


On a personal level, I am STILL not getting enough sleep. But I think we have turned the corner on workload and things will be a bit less hectic for awhile.

Although I am fairly comfortable driving in Britain, I've managed to ding our rental van twice in the same place--both times attempting to park. The vehicle is small by US standards but huge by UK standards and it doesn't fit easily into English car parks or garages. I bought all the insurance coverages just in case something like this happened!


Your ambassador,

John Clinton Bradley

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Lambeth Letter #3

Saints:

On Tuesday my team "translated" from London to Canterbury. We are temporarily staying at the Ebury Hotel--which is bit like Fawlty Towers--until Saturday. Because the Internet access at the Ebury proved to be unreliable, we purchased mobile phone modems--which I'm told the Brits call "dongles" because they dangle. Unfortunately, I am not finding the modem much more reliable. One reason for the lack of a report in the last few days.

The conference officially stated on Wednesday. However, the bishops are in retreat for the first few days and not much is happening. We issued a press advisory about an outdoor Eucharist that Integrity is co-sponsoring on Sunday afternoon. There's been a bit of controversy about the service. Our British allies had been either silent or evasive about who would be presiding. This spawned a rumor that Bishop Gene Robinson would be presiding--in violation of specific prohibitions outlined by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The rumor was false. Colin Coward, Director of a British LGBT organization called Changing Attitude, is presiding.

Today [Thursday] we set up our Canterbury Communications Centre [3C] in the parish hall adjacent to St. Stephen's Church. This is where I will be spending most of my time for the next 2 weeks...



It's in a lively neighborhood near a school, pub, and mini-market.

The 3C is equipped with high-speed Internet access [reliable so far!], a local area network, a printer, and a photocopier. About a dozen volunteers from a number of LGBT and allied organizations will be using it. Here are some of of Integrity's team members already hard at work...




I've mostly adapted to the local time zone, but I'm still not getting as much sleep as I would like. Hopefully that will change after we settle in to a routine.

Your ambassador,

John Clinton Bradley

Monday, July 14, 2008

Lambeth Letter #2


Saints:

The Bishop of New Hampshire preached a powerful sermon on fear last night to a packed congregation at St. Mary's Church, Putney Parish. You can read about it here or watch it here. Sadly, a heckler interrupted the sermon calling +Gene an heretic and urging him to repent. The protester was quickly drown out with a hymn and voluntarily left the service. Afterward, 4 members of our team [including me] stayed up until the wee hours managing press coverage of +Gene's sermon. While 2 of my colleagues had to also rise early to do interviews, I got to sleep until almost 11 local time.

fast forward

This evening was the UK premier of For the Bible Tells Me So at the Southbank Centre. Sir Ian McKellen introduced the film. After the credits, +Gene came on stage. Sir Ian asked +Gene a few questions, then invited the audience to do the same. The event ended with Sir Ian reciting a monologue written by William Shakespeare for a play about Thomas Moore. No photos or video were permitted. Although +Gene was promptly whisked away, Sir Ian mingled with the crowd. Several of our team introduced themselves to him and had their photos taken.

Your ambassador,

John Clinton Bradley

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Lambeth Letter #1


The view from my hotel--the River Thames with the Millennium Eye and Big Ben in the background.

Saints:

I arrived in England early this morning after an uneventful flight. As I write this I am sitting at a Starbucks in central London, waiting for my hotel room to become available. I didn't sleep on the plane, so I really want to crash about now.

fast forward

I finally got into my room and took a long nap. After a shower and tea, I am somewhat refreshed. On my way to St. Mary's Church, Putney Parish, where Bishop Gene Robinson is preaching tonite. I understand he had 14 press interviews today!

Visit www.integrityusa.org/lambeth2008/ for a wealth of information related to the Lambeth Conference.

If you would like in-depth news from Integrity USA as it happens, visit http://walkingwithintegrity.blogspot.com/ and/or subscribe to the Walking With Integrity email list.

Your ambassador,

John Clinton Bradley

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Education For Ministry Registration Now Open!

Registration for the upcoming term of Education for Ministry is now open! Click here for a PDF of the registration packet. Watch the video below to find out more.