Rowan’s presidential address

Members of Changing Attitude were in the Synod chamber to hear Archbishop Rowan’s presidential address this morning. We have been sitting drinking coffee and discussing our reaction to it for the past 2 hours.

Rowan’s mantra was that we have to be passionate about the God who has not abandoned us and does not abandon us. Rowan spoke passionately at the beginning about Kenya where a scripture reading congregation is learning what the new humanity means in practice, the Sudan where churches are working with such prolific energy not to abandon or stigmatise or reject, and the Congo, where the Church matters intensely. There is nothing on earth so transforming as a church in love, said Rowan. Amen to that.

Rowan repeated his mantra about the God who does not abandon us several times in his address. I was disappointed that Rowan lost the passion and energy he experienced in Africa as he developed his thoughts in the context of the Church of England and Synod’s agenda, preparing the ground for the discussion groups that were to follow.

Indeed God’s love does touch everything, as Rowan said, and does not ignore or desert any human being in every corner of what is made. Of course, say I, this includes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, Forward in Faith people, Reform and Anglican Mainstream people, WATCH people – God abandons none of us.

But this is a diminished picture of God, and not one that has the energy and prophetic vision to transform the church and our individual lives. Nothing can separate from the love of God, nothing in all creation, and it is only when that profound experience takes root in the core of our being, that we can begin to live free from our anxiety that we are infinitely, intimately, inseperably loved by God.

That is the message and the experience that transforms human lives and can transform the church. I think Rowan was being politically cautious and missed an opportunity to lay a more prophetic, radical vision of God’s presence in our lives and creation before Synod.


  1. says

    I´m sorry to hang my head at the mention of ++Rowan and his latest version of God´s powerful love…sadly, in Kenya as well as other Anglican provinces abroad, Anglicans/others are falling away from such ¨edited¨ pronouncements regarding God and his ¨inclusivity¨ at Church (Kenyans especially after the Anglican Church rejected the now, in place, new inclusive Kenyan Constitution)…any person who has even the slightest flicker of innermost contact with their own Soul (and the Holy Spirit) knows that God is God for everyone and that GIFT is understood…everyone means everyone and the ongoing omissions of ¨some¨ by Dr. Williams will surely strain further any hope for ¨loving thy neighbor¨ anywhere in the World…the loving God of our understanding commands us to expand our focus and not be afriad of truth in the light…Rowan Williams has a very hard time understand truth and dealing with *it* and seems the dodger and coward…our spiritual ¨first amongst¨ can´t quite see what is in front of him in Kenya, Uganda, North America, Jamaica or even England…if he could he would be sharing bold truth about the vile destruction and abuse reigned down on LGBTI Anglicans and heterosexual women at the Body of Christ…that´s the challenge and the rest is hot air.

  2. The Reverend Canon Susan Russell says

    Well said! And might everyone with ears to hear be inspired to be passionate about the God who has not abandoned us and WILL not abandon us … no matter how foolishly those given charge over Her church sometimes act out of their anxiety.

  3. Savi Hensman says

    Listening from afar via computer, I was in favour of the general sentiment, but less impressed by the romanticisation of churches in Africa in comparison to those in the West. While the achievements of churches in the Congo, Southern Sudan and Kenya should be acknowledged, I doubt that all LGBT people in those provinces (despite some recent progress in Kenya) feel welcomed and included. I had a curious sense of the invisibility of LGBT people and our allies from or in the South, not for the first time when listening to Rowan.

    I also wondered whether non-religious charities and projects which care for the abandoned (e.g. Kids Company) do not deserve some recognition.

  4. Laurence C. says

    “I also wondered whether non-religious charities and projects which care for the abandoned (e.g. Kids Company) do not deserve some recognition.”

    Three cheers for that remark, Savi.

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