A member of the Gloucester team reflects on their Indaba journey
What difference has Indaba made to your life and ministry?
It has made me aware that if I really want to understand the perspective of someone else with whom I instinctively do not agree, then I need to enter their world and see it through their eyes. I must also be prepared to allow them to enter my world and in both cases that demands a vulnerability which does away with barriers of race and status, creating a sacred space in which the Holy Spirit can open both our hearts and minds and enable us to journey together to a new place. This is as applicable to parish ministry as it is to relationships across the Communion.
Indaba has also enabled me to make lasting bonds of friendship across the globe through worshipping together, through studying and responding to scripture together, through eating together, through sharing experiences together, sometimes as guest, sometimes as host, through questioning and being questioned, through sharing passions and frustrations. What has been shared can never be unravelled and I am aware of the lasting gift of close interrelationship.
What influence has Indaba had on your diocese through its involvement in Indaba?
We pray daily in the diocesan cycle of prayer for those who are linked with us, but the fact that we have had the opportunity of hosting groups from Western Tanganyika and El Camino Real and that they have been out in the parishes as well as part of higher profile events centred around the cathedral has begun to widen the horizons of the people in the parishes. In many cases they can now say “Oh yes, I remember when N came to this parish”. In addition those of us who have been directly involved are able to speak with passion and commitment about Indaba, about corporate worship, about the lectio divina in which we have shared, about our friendships and about our understanding of different cultures and the riches they have to offer to us as well as rightly valuing the gifts we too have to offer. The experience of Indaba has gone a long way to facilitate true partnership and a living expression of being part of the body of Christ.
What effect has Indaba had on the way you think about the Anglican Communion?
I have a greater sense of being part of a family. As in all families there is not always complete agreement but that does not break the bonds of kinship. I no longer think of parts of the Anglican Communion as separate entities or even no-go areas because of their theological views. On the contrary I am filled with hope that Indaba is a process which can allow the grace, that is the generous and freely given love and hospitality of God, to work in the hearts and minds of all to bring about true relationship, generous and open listening as we journey deeper into truth.
Has Indaba changed the way you approach people who hold different views to you?
Real listening has always been important to me but Indaba has brought home the key element of understanding the culture and the circumstances which shape the opinions of those who hold divergent views. I am also increasingly aware of the need to continue the dialogue and to maintain the relationship rather than closing down the channels of communication, even when that is costly and painful. It is perhaps about carrying the cross in order to continue the journey.