by Bob Libby
Lambeth `98 gives new meaning to the term ``via media.'' Thanks to a grant of $161,000 (£97,700) from Trinity Church, Wall Street (US), state-of-the-art communication technology is at the service of the more than 2,000 people involved in the Conference.
Archbishop Robin Eames of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland, is the Conference's much-esteemed, much-respected Coordinator for Communications. He is assisted in interpreting the Conference to the media by a cadre of ``episcopal communicators: Bishop Riah Abu el-Assal (Jerusalem), Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold (US), Bishop Victoria Matthews (Edmonton, Canada), Bishop Nigel McCulloch (Wakefield, England), Bishop Paul Richardson (Australia), and Bishop Dinis Sengulane (Lebombo, Mozambique).
Canon James Rosenthal, Communication Director for the Anglican Communion, has assembled a team of more than 70 professional communicators from around the world.The team is guided by a steering committee, whose members include Archbishop Eames; Barbara Braver, Assistant to the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, US; the Rev Bill Beaver, Communication Director of the General Synod of the Church of England; Liz Gibson Harries, press officer for the Church of Ireland; the Rev Kris Lee, telecommunications director for the Episcopal Church,US;and Lesley Perry, media adviser to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Supporting these leaders are assistants Dominic Brant and Veronica Elks.
This team shares in oversight of the Lambeth Conference Communications Centre, located at the Canterbury Business School on the University of Kent campus. Daily work is shared among the Centre's several units.
As many as 200 requests for interviews are processed daily by Ms Harries and her team, assisted by Mark Lamour (Ireland). Mr Beaver oversees overall media relations, and hosts widely attended daily news conferences. A newsroom with modems and personal computers accommodates journalists from around the world, thanks again to the Trinity Wall Street grant.
Other Communications units include the Conference news team (led by James Thrall, former deputy director of news and information for the Episcopal Church in the United States); The Lambeth Daily (edited by Robert Williams, communications director for the Diocese of Los Angeles); photographers (directed by the Ven. Lynn Ross (Quebec, Canada); Section Communicators (led by Deaconess Margaret Rodgers, chief media executive of the Diocese of Sydney, Australia); seminarians led by the Rev Philip Chester (vicar of St Matthew's, Westminster, London). Veteran UK journalist Sally Hastings coordinates communications for the Spouses' Programme.
The Telecommunications Unit posts news releases, photographs, reports and The Lambeth Daily to the Conference website (www.lambethconference.org).Releases appear in English,French, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish. Up to last Tuesday, more than 110,000 ``hits'' had been received on both the Conference and Anglican Communion Office websites, reports the Rev Dr Joan Butler Ford of the telecommunications section. Bishops and others have been interviewed for various radio and television newscasts. The BBC aired the opening service from Canterbury Cathedral, and devoted a whole episode of ``Songs of Praise'' to the Lambeth Conference.
Most of the Conference's professional communicators are volunteers, here at their own expense from many places around the world. Scholarships for developing-world communicators have been provided by Trinity Church, Wall Street, by members of the Diocese of Los Angeles, and by the national US Episcopal Communicators organisation.