Spouses open Programme of study, worship
by David Skidmore
Underscoring the hope that their gathering will be an opportunity for deepening faith commitments, Mrs Eileen Carey welcomed more than 600 bishops' spouses to Sunday evening's opening service for the Spouses' Programme. ``I pray that each one of us will find that our Christian commitment is deepened by the experience of being together and sharing with one another,'' said Mrs Carey, whose husband is Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey.
The spouses' programme, featuring four plenary sessions, daily Bible study groups and a series of workshops, seminars and presentations, is intended ``as a gift from God,'' Mrs Carey said, adding that ``those of us who have planned the programme present it as a gift to you.''
Study topics cover range of concerns
Among the topics to be covered are health and social issues, mission and evangelism, spirituality, poverty and environmental concerns, parenting, marriage, children at risk, and coping with stress. Presenters include Dr Jean F. O'Barr, director of Women's Studies at Duke University, North Carolina, who will lead a dialogue on ``Women in Leadership'' July 23; Archbishop David Gitari of Kenya who will speak on ``A Christian Challenge Towards a Healthy Future;'' Dr Carey, who will speak on the Vocation of the Anglican Communion in the 21st Century July 27; and Susan Howatch, author of the acclaimed series of novels ``The Bible, the World, and the Church'' is the focus for the Conference's first plenary session set for today at 11.30am in the Sports Centre meeting halls. All participating in the Conference are invited to attend. The plenary will help to establish the central role scripture will play in the conference, planners say.
The Bible should ``receive a quite prominent place fairly early in the conference,'' so that ``interpretation of the Bible is integrated with the deliberations of the conference on its key topics,'' notes Dr David Ford, Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University and coordinator for the plenary. The plenary will feature video interviews with bishops and spouses commenting on 2 Corinthians, which is the focus of their daily Bible studies. It also will include a theatrical interpretation of Jacob's encounter with God by the Riding Lights Theatre Company, followed by an address by Dr Ford. Scripture is focus for today's plenary only the events and activities which interest them.``Make space for yourself and attend what you feel is right for you,'' she said, but also encouraged the spouses to take full advantage of the Bible study sessions. Like the bishops, the spouses will be working through all of the book of 2 Corinthians during the course of the three-week Lambeth Conference.
Mrs Carey also made a special point of welcoming the five male spouses from the United States and New Zealand attending the conference: Mr David Dixon, husband of Bishop Suffragan Jane Dixon of Washington DC; Dr Ian Jamieson, husband of Bishop Penelope Jamieson of Dunedin, New Zealand; the Rev Mac McLeod, husband of Bishop Mary Adelia McLeod of Vermont; Dr Philip Roskam, husband of Bishop Suffragan Catherine Roskam of New York; and Mr Larry Waynick, husband of Bishop Catherine Waynick of Indianapolis. Dr Jamieson is among the spouses speaking on ``The Role of the Bishop's Spouse'' today, one of four main presentations of the Spouses' Programme. Also speaking at the opening event were Sally Sargeant, chair of the Spouses' Programme planning group and wife of Bishop Frank Sargent of Canterbury; site coordinator Jo Cundy, wife of Bishop Ian Cundy of the Diocese of Peterborough in the Church of England; Lady Eames, president of the Mothers' Union; and the Rev Susan Bailey, chaplain to the spouses.
Events seek to reflect Communion's diversity Like the liturgies planned for the bishops, the Morning and Evening Prayer services for the spouses will reflect the communion's cultural and linguistic diversity, said Mrs Bailey. The vision of Bishop Roger Herft, the conference chaplain, is ``that Lambeth 1998 will be a community that includes everyone appropriately,'' she said.
The worship portion of the spouses' opening event stressed inclusiveness with a prayer for the conference read in seven languages (French, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese, Swahili, Arabic, and English); the Gospel proclaimed in Swahili; and intercessory prayers read by the spouses of three primates: Mrs Cynthia Tay of Southeast Asia; Mrs Olga Lindsay of the West Indies; and Mrs Phoebe Griswold of the United States. Solos also were sung in Bengali and Spanish. Mrs Benita Rumalshah of the Diocese of Peshawar, Pakistan, encouraged the spouses to imagine themselves as a stick of incense consumed by the fire of faith. The song ``Life Burnt for Jesus,'' composed for the 1948 Lambeth by Dr Nirode K. Biswas, Bishop of Assam, was sung by Rumalshah in Bengalese without accompaniment. Mrs Iris Heinze de Axt, wife of Bishop Humberto Axt of Argentina, led the spouses in the closing song ``Santo, Santo, Santo'' (Holy, Holy, Holy) which was sung in English and Spanish. The spouses also enjoyed a preview of some songs that will be featured in the ``Crowning Glory'' revue on August 6.
In keeping with the theme of hospitality and community, the Spouses' Programme has been housed in a miniature tent city perched on platforms between Rutherford and Eliot Colleges. Known as the Spouses'Village, the canvas hamlet consists of a single large tent on the east end of the platform for plenary sessions, with a cluster of interconnected smaller tents for Bible study groups and workshops. An open deck on the platform's west end affords spouses with one of the best views of Canterbury Cathedral.
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