Andrew Plus: Taking an appreciative path at Lambeth

Current Affairs / Religion

Andrew Gerns has a very interesting point about the contrasting approaches of this summer’s Lambeth Conference and GAFCON meeting.

First, GAFCON:

“The more I think about it, the more I believe that GAFCON will be the anti-Lambeth in almost every way. GAFCON calls what they are doing is called ‘pilgrimage’ but GAFCON will certainly be both a pep-rally for the troops and a conference where strategy will be laid out for a future of their own design and determination.

The designers of GAFCON have made it clear that their future will happen regardless of what anyone else thinks or wants or needs: witness the blatant disregard for the Bishop of Jerusalem and their disinterest in the local situation. For the GAFCONites, Jerusalem is not a place where real people live but it is an historical and religious theme-park to be viewed from bus windows, hotel conference rooms and through guided tours. It is a backdrop that makes a political statement.

GAFCON represents one way of creating change. Gather people around you who agree with you. Get them good and steamed up about something they hate. Separate from people who are you think are ‘bad.’ Create a new structure. Go your own way.

A tried and true approach. And for what it is, it works. But does it really address the things that make them the most uncomfortable? Does it move them towards actual Gospel mandates? Does it make them a better church?

But as regards the Lambeth Conference:

Since 2003, the Anglican Communion, and all the Instruments of Unity together and separately have shown us that we cannot legislate our way out of this, and that diplomatic solutions are at best provisional. The Windsor Report is a disaster precisely because it attempts to solve a problem structurally that is at heart a theological problem. But it did not spring out of nowhere.

Progressives have tended to go about solving problems by way of organizing and creating legislative and judicial solutions to theological and moral problems. And, in my view, the reasserters have gone wrong because they have attempted to impose a competing, conciliar (structural and political) solution to solve what they fundamentally see as a theological problem.

In other words, we have a legitimate series of problems and impasses, that need to be addressed concretely. But instead of building on what we do best as a Communion, and in the Episcopal Church, we have tended to focus on fixing specific symptoms through the use of interest group politics. That is building solutions based on our weakness.”

What Andrew sees is a strong signal that Lambeth is not going to be a typical legislative event, but instead it will focus on using a different methodology – Appreciative Inquiry.

I think he’s on to something here.

Read the full article here and you can see Andrew’s full explication of the process of Appreciative Inquiry and how it might be used this summer.

What do you think?

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...