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.