In October, some 25 Anglican leaders from across Africa gathered with more than a dozen Episcopalians from the United States for a consultation on issues of justice and human sexuality.
For three days the group prayed, studied the Bible, listened to presentations and talked about issues of theology, sexuality and culture. When formal sessions ended, they talked into the night, all in an attempt to better understand one another and the unique context in which each participant lived and ministered.
The Chicago Consultation was proud to sponsor this event at the Salt Rock Hotel in Durban, South Africa with our partners from the Ujamaa Centre at the University of KwaZulu Natal.
The “Listeners’ Report” written by a team led by the Rev. Canon Janet Trisk, the Church of Southern Africa’s clergy representative to the Anglican Consultative Council, gives a comprehensive account of the time the group spent together.
The list of participants includes several people who attended at some risk to their careers and ministries, but permitted their names to be made public nonetheless.
Members of eight African provinces participated in the consultation, including a bishop from Nigeria, the general secretary of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa, the provincial secretary of the Church of Tanzania and numerous seminary faculty.
The delegation from the Episcopal Church included Bishops Jeff Lee of Chicago and Mark Beckwith of Newark, the Rev. Gay Jennings, the Episcopal Church’s clergy representative to the Anglican Consultative Council and the Rev. Bonnie Perry, co-convener of the Chicago Consultation.
Interfaith and ecumenical guests included a gay imam, representatives of the Church of Sweden and clergy of the Methodist and Dutch Reformed Church.
During much of the recent upheaval in the Anglican Communion over issues of sexuality we have been told that those of us who favor the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the church have no partners for conversation, in Africa no brothers and sisters who will join us in ministry.
The experience of the consultation tells us that this is not true, that the bonds of affection that sustain the Anglican Communion remain strong, and that generous-spirited Anglicans around the globe are more eager than ever to enter into the deep, prayerful, scripturally informed conversations on which the future of the Communion will be built.