The Revd Colin Coward, Director of Changing Attitude England, Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria and the Revd Caro Hall from Integrity USA arrived at the White Sands Hotel, Jangani Beach, Tanzania on Monday, not without difficulty and minor drama. The three of us arrived and met together at the immigration desks in the airport at 2.30pm Monday: Davis had been advised that he could apply for a visa on arrival. The authorities decided that they were not able to grant him a visa on the evidence available, despite the fact that Caro and I vouched for him and did have visas and evidence that we were here for the Anglican Primates meeting. After waiting three hours, Caro and I took the hotel limo to White Sands and I returned to the airport with a letter of authorisation from the hotel. Meanwhile Davis had met an immigration official from Nigeria. When I arrived at 9.30pm with the letter, a visa was issued within 10 minutes. Davis remained calm and confident that he would be allowed in. I wasn’t so sure!
The conservatives are already here, and as reported elsewhere, have set up headquarters at an adjacent hotel where they have been planning their strategy for the coming week with Archbishop Peter Akinola and Bishop Martyn Minns (CANA). Canon David Anderson (American Anglican Council) and Chris Sugden (Anglican Mainstream are here too and Davis has been introduced to them. I detect a certain reticence on their part to meet and acknowledge Davis‘s presence. Why is this? Why are the conservatives so discomfited by meeting a gay Anglican from Nigeria? This is a basic failure of Christian respect and hospitality, and is contrary to the spirit of the Windsor report and the listening process.
Also here are staff from the Anglican Communion office – Kenneth Kearnon, Sue Parkes, Phil Groves, Jim Rosenthal, and Matthew Davies who is from ENS.
The Primates and those involved in the organisation of the Primates meeting are in a self-contained part of the building, protected by security guards. If they remain inside their own enclave, contact with any of them will be impossible. However, if they want to speak directly to their own lobby group, beyond phone conversations, they will have to come outside. Then Davis will have an opportunity to introduce himself to other Primates, including his own, Archbishop Peter Akinola, and engage with them as one Anglican to another. If, like David Anderson and Chris Sugden, they reveal a reluctance to engage, this will reveal the dishonesty of Primates who claim to be committed to the listening process and to love their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in the Anglican Church, but in reality, are unable to overcome their instinctive prejudice and fear.
If the conservatives were not so fearful, they would not need to be here 4 days in advance, meeting and planning their strategy. And be sure, the reports posted by Steve Bates of the Guardian and Jonathan Petre of the Telegraph are accurate – these Primates and their supporters are planning a campaign against Archbishop Rowan Williams, a campaign in which they are determined to get their own way and ultimately exclude Katherine Jefferts Schori and John Sentamu from the meeting. This is a high risk strategy for them. If they fail, they have to eat humble pie. If they succeed, they will undermine the authority of Rowan Williams. They have no conscience about doing this, but I suspect the majority of Anglicans will not be impressed by their campaign to destroy the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury.