The inclusive church movement is going through a purple patch at the moment. There are enough positive things happening to give us cause to, at least, contemplate that the snowball is gathering momentum and, even, hope more realistically that we will see a tangible justice within our lifetimes.
The gay hate bill before the Ugandan government has been roundly condemned by the international community but last week protests against it started to take shape in Uganda itself. The bravery of these prophets in their own land adds enormous value to the universal campaign against the superstitious power abusers who would lay such a vile injustice on their own people.
The passing of the bill that will allow same sex marriages to take place in English places of worship is another huge breakthrough. The fact that so many church people, up to and including those with the rank of bishop, plus leaders from other religions, used its passage through the House of Lords to pin their true and supportive colours to the post is particularly telling.
But there is a lot of other stuff going down away from the direct control of the Anglican Head Office that is very interesting. Last week a group of five, inclusive minded, Canadian bishops met with five, not exactly inclusive but definitely open minded, bishops from Africa at Lambeth. This meeting was part of an ongoing conversation initiated by those concerned that had already seen the exchange of much theological correspondence between the dioceses concerned.
Of course, it is too early to expect great, world changing pronouncements to issue forth from such meetings but they will come eventually. We know from experience that change always comes from the grass roots and is taken up by the powerful when they perceive political advantage in doing so. Ironically, these conversations come out of the Grand Tufti's imposition of small group conversations at the various synods and conferences he has been responsible for over the last few years. Unfortunately, it appears that the only negative aspect of last week's meeting of bishops was the attitude of the important people from Head Office who sat in on some of the sessions. These people talked at the delegates and left far too little time to listen to them. Also, they are showing a definite antagonism towards the idea of such initiatives taking place outside of their control. They want conversation, or so they say, but they also wish to be in control of who talks to who and where and when. But such centrally controlled debate has been shown to be manipulative and bogus by the appointment in the past of such people as Archbishop Gomez as head of the covenant enforcement group and Phil Groves as facilitator of the "listen to me process." The dominance of such people in the Grand Tufti's appointments leads me, personally, to assume that there is a definite loading of the debate and process in favour of extreme conservatives. But the bishops of the Communion are not all stupid and the more worldly wise ones have sussed out what is going on. And these same bishops are not sycophants either. So it was obvious from the beginning that they would eventually start conversations away from the heavy handed control of the movers and shakers of Head Office.