Lambeth 2008

I assume, and maybe I should not, that most of my readers are of the Eastern Orthodox variety and therefore have no clue what Lambeth is. Well Lambeth is the once very 10 years conference of all of the Anglican Bishops in the Anglican Communion who are invited by the Archbishop of Canterbury to come to Lambeth England to talk about the Communion. This conference has just concluded, and because I am such a church geek I have followed the news of the conference these last two and half weeks. There is a lot of information on the web about the conference and a simple Google search will keep you busy for most of the day.

During the conference the bishops gathered together for Bible Study in groups of eight and then in larger groups, called Indaba, for discussions on certain topics. It is these Indadba groups that I will comment on.

First off the word is pronounced in DAH ba and is a South African concept of listening to the others in the group in an attempt to reach consensus on the issue being discussed. The main word in that phrase is listening. How often do we really listen to one another without any preconceived notions about the other person. Some of the bishops have commented that they have learned so much from their counterparts in other parts of the world during this process and others hope that this process will continue even after the conference is over. I think it is very easy to complain about someone or something if you do not know who or what they are!

One of the more challenging things of pastoral ministry is listening. Ministers all called to be good, no great, listeners. People want someone to talk to and to be listened not preached at or told what to do. Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing at all.

In my short time in the ministry I have often found that if you just let the person talk they will figure it out all on their own in their own way with their own words. We need to do more listening in the church. We need to really listen to one another and not pre judge a situation or a person.

Listening requires giving up something as well and also it makes us vulnerable to what we might learn in the process. As humans we are so quick to judge one another for all sorts of reasons and that is not right. If we take a step back and listen to the other person, really listen, to their wants, needs, hurts, joys, desires, then maybe, just maybe, we could really minster to them and to our world.

Stop preaching and start listening I guess is what I am trying to say. Also stop judging and start listening. You might just learn something.


  1. Fr. P: Why do we not listen to others? Maybe we are afraid of what we will learn.

  2. Fr P. The only way to learn something is to come right out and ask. So what are you trying to learn?

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