Continuing Indaba - Background Information

The bishops present at the 1998 Lambeth Conference passed Resolution I.10 on human sexuality. The second clause stated that the Conference: “in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage.”[1] Within the same resolution the bishops also recognised that there are people who experience themselves as having “a homosexual orientation” and that that they look to the church for “pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God's transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of relationships”.[2] In this context the bishops committed themselves “to listen to the experience of homosexual persons.”[3]

The Windsor Report described this as a “listening process” and called for it to be “taken forward, so that greater common understanding might be obtained on the underlying issue of same gender unions.”[4] The Primates’ Meeting of 2005 urged the Anglican Consultative Council, which met later that year, to appoint a facilitator to monitor the work being done, share the results and enable further listening.[5] ACC –13 responded by passing a resolution affirming this request, but also calling for a process of “mutual listening”.[6] At their meeting in Dar Es Salaam in 2007 the Primates commended the work of the Facilitator and asked for “the preparation of material to assist the bishops at 2008 Lambeth Conference”. This request was fulfilled by the publication of the book The Anglican Communion and Homosexuality.

During 2007 and 2008 preparation was underway for the Lambeth Conference with the focus on equipping bishops for mission.[7] At the heart of the conference were Indaba groups. The Archbishop of Canterbury described the Zulu word Indaba as a “meeting for purposeful discussion among equals.  Its aim is not to negotiate a formula that will keep everyone happy but to go to the heart of an issue and find what the true challenges are before seeking God's way forward.”[8]  He compared it to what “Benedictine monks and Quaker Meetings seek to achieve as they listen quietly together to God, in a community where all are committed to a fellowship of love and attention to each other and to the word of God.”[9]

The Primates’ Meeting of 2009 accepted the Windsor Continuation Group’s recommendation that there be a renewal of the Listening Process.[10] Following the Lambeth Conference the Anglican Communion Office and Lambeth Palace had been working on a proposal for Continuing Indaba to fulfil this request. This proposal was supported by the ACC in 2009.[11] The Continuing Indaba project intends to:

  • Develop theological resources to inform the process of seeking a common mind by the utilisation of theologians around the world reflecting on Scripture and the traditions of the church in the context of diverse cultures, with and emphasis on non-western cultures and to publish them in culturally appropriate forms. Develop and publish training materials for the convening and facilitation of Anglican Indaba processes.
  • Run five pilot conversations of typically three dioceses meeting across diversity. The focus will be upon on the primary mission issues in each context and will not avoid hard questions – not only related to sexuality, but also to the authority of Scripture, faithfulness to tradition and the respect for the dignity of all. The hope will be that the result of the conversations will be a depth of agreement and the clarification of disagreement resulting in positive missional relationships.
  • Run theological and process evaluation groups to ensure the process is faithful to the Anglican way, valuable in enabling mutual mission and replicable across the Communion.[12]

Featured Area: Continuing Indaba and Mutual Listening

The ACC at its recent meeting in Jamaica received a report on the Listening Process and welcomed a proposal for a Continuing Indaba Project urging its implementation as soon as possible. It is a biblically based and mission focussed project designed to develop relationships within the Anglican Communion by drawing upon cultural models of consensus building for mutual action.

 


Notes:

1. http://www.lambethconference.org/resolutions/1998/1998-1-10.cfm

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. TWR, 135.

5. The Primates’ Meeting February 2005 Communiqué, 17. Available online: http://www.aco.org/communion/primates/resources/downloads/communique%20_english.pdf

6. ACC – 13

7. Ian Douglas “Equipping for God’s Mission: The Missiological Vision of the 2008 Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops” International Bulletin of Missionary Research Vol. 33, No.1. (January 2009), 3-4.

8. “Archbishop of Canterbury's Pentecost Letter to the Bishops of the Anglican Communion” (12 May 2008), available online: http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/1792

9. Ibid. See also Thabo Makgoba “Essence of Indaba” in Worship and Indaba Group Resources (London: Lambeth Conference, 2008), section on Indaba Groups, 1-2.

10. “The Windsor Continuation Group Report to the Archbishop of Canterbury” (2009), available online: http://www.aco.org/commission/windsor_continuation/docs/WCG%20Report%20Final%20090105.pdf

11. ACC –14, Resolution 14.12: The Listening Process.

12. “The Continuing Indaba and Mutual Listening Project” (2009), available online: http://www.aco.org/listening/continuing_indaba/description.cfm