We spent the day at Canterbury Cathedral, a place with history and atmosphere, which was in full welcoming mode. For many of the bishops this was their first visit to the ‘mother church’ of the Anglican Communion. We worshipped together, we spent time in silence, and we listened to talks introducing themes from 1 Peter.
Dr Esther Mombo, a Kenyan theologian, was especially thought-provoking. She reflected on 1 Peter 2.13-3.22. Her starting point was the children’s song, learned in Africa as well as in the UK, ‘There’s a hole in my bucket…’. Brokenness can seem straightforward, inviting simple solutions, yet when you get down to it problems are often more intractable and lead onto others.
She spoke of the need to recognise what is broken; to repent, redeem and redress. In the context of the Anglican Communion this seems a good approach. Speaking with others afterwards, we acknowledged that what is sometimes presented as our central problem is only part of something much deeper and less easy to analyse. How many of the issues facing our Communion are tied up with the impact of colonialisation, and what would it mean to repent, redeem and redress in this context? The payment of reparations is, surely, not a matter of ‘if’ but of ‘when’ – and what action should our Communion take on this?
The great joy of the day was to meet Bishop Victor, of Cape Coast, our linked diocese. +Victor and I haven’t met for over five years so it was reassuring to find an immediate rapport. He is deeply involved in working across African Provinces seeking greater understanding and reconciliation where friendship is broken. I haven’t had the chance yet to ask him about the ‘hole’ in our collective bucket, what’s broken and whether it can be repaired. That’s something for tomorrow.
We ended the day with a lovely, quiet service of Night Prayer, led by the young adults of the Community of St Anselm.