Page last updated at 20:01 GMT, Monday, 4 August 2008 21:01 UK

Lambeth Conference: Readers' views

Church ceiling

The Lambeth Conference has drawn to a close. The 10-yearly gathering got off to a shaky start when more than 200 conservative bishops announced a boycott. Issues such as the ordination of gay priests have caused rifts in the Communion.

Four Anglicans discuss the events of the past three weeks and share their thoughts about the future of the Church.

Bob MacDonald
Victoria, Canada
William Aku
Abuja, Nigeria


Stephen
Colchester, UK

Roger Jones
Birmingham, UK

WILLIAM AKU, 46, CIVIL SERVANT, NIGERIA

Americans and Canadians cannot have their way in the Anglican Communion
Not much was achieved at the Lambeth Conference as the Archbishop of Canterbury decided to sidestep the main issue at the heart of recent arguments - the consecration of homosexuals as priests.

Moving forward, we still believe Rowan Williams will come to realise that the Americans and Canadians cannot have their way in the Anglican Communion.

Church leaders should rethink their position and remember that it is the Bible that should be the ultimate guide in these matters. Ordinary Anglicans do not have any choice but to listen to their consciences and what their local church leaders have to say.

I believe the openly gay bishop Gene Robinson decided to attend Lambeth just to provoke people - and he knows it. It is the display of extremism in his views that scares many orthodox Anglicans.

I was glad to see bishops marching in London to demand action on poverty. However, the issue of poverty cannot be addressed in isolation. The Church must first tackle the main problem facing it today - the issue of homosexuality.

I do not think the Anglican Communion will split - we will continue as a unified Church given the special nature of Anglicanism as a bulwark against Catholicism.

But the divisions between liberals and conservatives will continue until the former group realise they cannot move too far away from the core principles of the Church.

BOB MACDONALD, 62, SOFTWARE DEVELOPER, VICTORIA, CANADA

Bob MacDonald
There has been some meeting of minds at Lambeth. A number of people from African churches have accepted that the gay issue is there and won't simply go away.

At the same time, some from the North American churches have come to realise the importance of cultural context in which countries from the southern hemisphere operate - and how this affects people's attitudes over the gay issue.

Overall, I believe there is now the possibility for greater honesty on this topic. So I am more optimistic about the potential for change in the future.

The only problem is time. Time is of the essence for individuals but is not so important for organisations like the Anglican Church.

Ultimately, the issue of homosexuality is an issue that all the major faiths must tackle.

I was pleased to see the bishops marching in London calling for action on the Millennium Development Goals. While poverty must have focus, honesty and justice on the ultimately personal issues of sexuality are not unimportant.

Although I do not foresee a major split, some churches may splinter off from the main Anglican Communion. Those churches will continue along their own path until they are able to come to terms with controversial issues such as sexuality. I hope we will address all issues with a spirit of gentleness.

STEPHEN, 49, ORGANIST, COLCHESTER, UK

Stephen Hogger
I think the Lambeth Conference proved that most churches still wish to be associated despite recent difficulties. But Church leaders should remember that each church is autonomous. They need to go back to put things right in their own countries and stop "fishing in each others ponds".

The Church should treat the gay issue the same as they have the Biblical strictures on eating shellfish, divorce, slavery, the planting of two crops in the same field, the wearing of garments made of two fibres, the ministry of women etc. However, I still think Bishop Gene Robinson should have stayed away - never go to a party if you are not invited!

I suspect that this may have been the last Lambeth Conference. The Gafcon Bishops will not be satisfied with anything except total victory. They have refused every offer of compromise so far so I doubt we've heard the last of it. The Anglican Communion is almost entirely paid for by Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA) who have been extremely patient but will eventually close the purse.

I think the Archbishop's march against poverty was noticed by the media in a positive way so it didn't do any harm, a pleasant change from recent coverage. But what will come out of it will depend mostly on the politicians of course.

I am a bit disappointed with Rowan Williams' pandering to the international stage. There seems to be very little reaction to the gay issue here at home and like ECUSA I am getting very tired of the African Primates telling me what I should do.

ROGER JONES, 60, COMPOSER OF CHRISTIAN MUSIC, BIRMINGHAM, UK

Roger Jones
The impression I get from the media is that little was settled at the conference.

A desire to maintain unity meant there was no definitive statement on controversial issues. This is hardly good leadership and eventually there will be division on authority of scripture.

I would like the Church to pronounce clearly that the only place for sexual intimacy is within heterosexual marriage and that marriage that isn't heterosexual isn't marriage at all.

We would then all know what the Church stands for, and we could decide whether or not to join the denomination.

It was a tragedy that so many bishops decided to boycott the conference over the gay issue. Although I understand their concerns and respect their right to take a stand, I think it would have been better if they had attended and made their voice clearly heard.

As for Gene Robinson, I wish he had not come to the UK at this time. But, then again, I think he should not have been made a bishop at all.

I believe a split in the Communion is inevitable. It will be a tragedy, but it is unavoidable. Any initiatives to head off future divisions will come to nothing as the problems surrounding homosexuality have not been solved.





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