The Indaba groups became places of deep trust, even as we exchanged very divided opinions and sharp disagreements – but we learnt we could be honest, and held in love and trust by one another. Some people were afraid the Indaba approach was a tactic for avoiding difficult questions. But the reverse was true. We created a safe space where everyone could have their say.
We could peel the layers off the onions, so to speak, getting beneath the surface, and grappling with what really mattered. Some members of the Episcopal Church in the United States in my indaba group, for example, discovered how ignorant they were of the situations in other parts of the world, and of how their actions affected the lives of Bishops and ordinary Christians far away. Other Bishops came to realise that the accounts of the American church that are beamed round the world on television and internet, are often not accurate, and certainly don’t tell the whole story.
What we concluded was this. We do have big differences, and we don’t easily know how to deal with them – but, more than this, we all belong to Jesus Christ, and therefore we belong to each other, and we must, we must, keep on debating and discussing, in mutual care, respect and trust. As several bishops said, the indaba must go on! Of course, it will not be easy. Some bishops stayed away, and we were diminished by their absence. Their perspective would have enriched our sharing, and challenged us more sharply over our disagreements, forcing us to draw even more deeply on the reserves of our common life in Christ.
But our conclusion was – as we said in the Reflections document that recorded our discussions – that we should now ‘build bridges, to look for opportunities to share with them the experience we have had in Canterbury and to find ways of moving forward together in our witness to the Lord Jesus Christ,’ and that in the interim, the recommendations of the Windsor report must be upheld – that is, moratoria on the consecration of actively homosexual bishops, on formal rites of blessing for same sex unions, and on bishops and archbishops trespassing into dioceses and provinces not their own.