Anglican Samizdat

April 28, 2009

Doing the Indaba in the Diocese of Toronto

In January 2009, Colin Johnson, bishop of Toronto decided to go ahead with same-sex blessings in some of the parishes in his diocese.

On the face of it, this seemed like an odd decision since the Toronto synod is coming up in May: why not wait for a decision on this from synod?

It seems that the May synod will be using the same contention-defusing technique that Rowan Williams pioneered at Lambeth: the Indaba group:

For the first time, synod will use the indaba process for its discussions. Indaba is a Zulu word meaning “one agenda meeting” or gathering for purposeful discussion. Groups of 35 to 40 people discuss a single issue. Everyone is given a chance to speak. There is an attempt to find a common mind or common story that everyone is able to tell when they leave.

Colin Johnson is not in the least ashamed of the fact that he has no intention of allowing a vote on the issue that is on everyone’s mind; he boasts:

My expectation for the May synod is that, except for a few formalities, there will be no motions. We’ll deal with legislative matters when synod meets again in November. This does not mean that the May synod will be insignificant!

So we’re not avoiding decisions at the May synod; rather, we’re expanding opportunities for people to participate in shaping the way we live together in the church.

True enough, Johnson is not avoiding decisions: they’ve already been made.

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