Bishop Michael Perham – Telling the Story
I came to Continuing Indaba with a deep commitment to the Anglican Communion and to its unity. I came also with a belief that relationships through diocesan partnerships, especially partnerships involving more than two dioceses and cultures, were crucial to the future of the Communion. I find it very difficult to differentiate in my mind between our companion link relationship and the Indaba process, the first preceding the second, the second enriching the first. This I think, in terms of Continuing Indaba, is uniquely the experience of El Camino Real, Western Tanganyika and Gloucester, but it does give us a slightly different slant.
Continuing Indaba has enabled me to strengthen that conviction through more intense and intentional conversations than would otherwise have been possible. Continuing Indaba has allowed us to take our relationships to a deeper level and it has done this by providing a clearer framework for our conversations, by bringing in some outside influences to challenge our way of working with one another and by providing the resources that have allowed us to spend much more time in each other’s company than would otherwise have been the case.
I think Continuing Indaba has brought a greater sense of equality among the partner dioceses, enabled the African voice to be more clearly heard and increased the sense of mutuality. I think that in our particular partnership, where Episcopal leadership has been key, it has broadened the partnership and enabled others to own it in a new way.
I think one of the strengths of Continuing Indaba is that, although it has deepened our ability to converse about the difficult and divisive issues in the Communion, it has done so not simply by focusing on them, but by encouraging us to look at other areas of our life and mission, where we may learn from one another. In a strange way focusing on some other issues has enabled us to tackle difficult questions in a more open way.
I venture to suggest that Continuing Indaba may have learnt a thing or two from our partnership as well. Not least I hope the fact that a rich pattern of worship and bible study, which has always been a mark of our partnership, has become all the more embedded in the Continuing Indaba process as a result of what our three dioceses did together. In particular I think we have wanted to contribute the belief that Lectio Divina is a particularly helpful way of studying the Scriptures when people come from different cultures and have to speak in their second or third language.