I said a few days ago that this conference happening at all is a complete miracle. As the week has progressed, this has only become more apparent. Logistically, moving 1200 people around this city, and then today into Galilee, had to have been daunting. There have been a few little hiccups here and there, but over all, to the letter, things have gone beautifully. (I’m really sorry I’m not able to think of interesting words to describe things tonight—I just have to get it down, even uninterestingly, and hopefully describe it better later as I assimilate it all).
The organizers of this event have thought of Everything. When getting on buses to go to the Ophel Gardens, there were boxes and boxes of water bottles being handed out (same with the Mount of Olives). Today (Saturday) we lunched by the Jordan River (well, tiny Jordan trickle, mainly dry river bed), under huge shade trees. A crew came in, set up tables and chairs, set out table clothes, set out hot food and cold drinks (pita bread, chicken, beef, salads, rice, potatoes, watermelon, I could go on and on). Everyone ate lavishly and then they took all the tables down and the chairs were rearranged for worship.
Another logistical miracle has been the organizing of the Statement and the Work Groups. TEC has blathered unhelpfully for years and years about ‘lay leadership’ (in our own diocese there were meetings, grumbling, complaining, desperate attempts to get the laity to ‘be involved’ and ‘do more’ etc.) without actually making it a substantial part of ecclesiastical life. Sure, people do things in their own churches, and of course there’s Bonnie Anderson, lay woman extraordinaire, battling her way across the country, but not like Anything I have experienced here in the last few days. The work groups have been carefully formed to include Bishop, Priest, often Deacon, and Lay people. Everyone discusses together the questions (or anything they want), writes down what they feel is most important at the end of the session and submits it to the Conference leadership/drafting committee who read everything and write accordingly. Most groups have At Least One Bishop, often more. The level playing field—everyone talking together from their own “context” has been lively, enlightening, encouraging and, frankly, fun. Plus, my group has passed our GAFCON baby up and down, everyone getting a turn. I have every confidence that what comes from this council is not just the will of the Bishops or Primates, but of the whole body gathered together. I’m also really moved and encouraged that every possible order (lay, clergy, bishop) was invited without fuss or loud trumpeting. Its no big deal, it’s the whole church together.
If you’re looking for the work of the Holy Spirit in the world, look no further. It takes the power of God to make something like this happen.