We had an honest-to-God day off yesterday!
Beacause we're housed in a Parish Hall, we have to take apart the Communications Centre on Saturday evenings so that the parish can use it on Sunday mornings for Coffee Hour. Last week we set everything back up on Sunday afternoon, but this week, we decided to just take all of Sunday off, so we set back up today (Monday morning).
With the day off, I had the chance to really get out and have a nice time.
Like all Feasts of our Lord, my Sabbath began on Saturday evening with the Inclusive Church Network Eucharist. The Archbishop of Mexico presided and the Rev. Canon Lucy Winkett preached a brilliant sermon.
One of the highlights of my time here in Canterbury happened there. I ran into Martha Gardner at the Inclusive Eucharist. I mentioned to her how I'd been wanting to meet Jenny Te Paa. Jenny is a layperson from the Province of New Zealand and was the first woman to attend Theological School in that Province. I think she's one of the most important voices in Anglican Theology today. Martha said, "Oh, I've known Jenny for years, let me introduce you!"
I was so excited. I've been a huge fan of Jenny's since she preached a fabulous sermon at our General Convention in 2006 - one of those rare sermons that I still remember and think about even after all this time! And she was very gracious and gentle. I asked her if she'd be coming back to preach for us again in Anaheim, and she said, "Oh, I hope so!" So perhaps I'll hear her again!
On Sunday morning I worshiped at the Cathedral. It was very nice. The Dean preached a humorous sermon (but admittedly rather bland - now a day later I don't remember what it was about) and the Archbishop of Canterbury presided. As a matter of particular interest to me, he was using a crozier from the 12th century that I had seen just a couple of days before in the Treasury Crypt.
After the service, the Archbishop was mobbed by people asking for photos. Without shame I joined the throngs. While I don't necessarily like +Rowan's politics, it was special to have this opportunity to meet him. After praying for him daily for low these many years, it was nice to make him a little more "real". And he was very gracious to all of us seeking his attention, and kindly waited until we'd all had our chance, even though he must have been quite hot in his chasuble and mitre - it was a bit of a muggy day...
After church I had lunch with my friend Michael (the videographer from a previous post) and Rowan Smith, the Dean of Capetown, South Africa.
When we all parted company, I decided I run to the train station to see how difficult it would be to get down to Dover. I was actually not really planning to go. I was tired and thought I might be better served by spending more time in Canterbury. But I'm so glad I went!
The train ride was only about a half an hour, and it was just a lovely scene. I hired a taxi from the train station, and my driver was really great. I told him I just had a little while, so he took care of me - helping me to get the best use of my time.
We first drove to an overlook where I could see the Dover Castle and the famous "white cliffs", and then he took me up to the castle. I didn't really know what to expect, but surprised myself to find how much I enjoyed my time there.
I spent most of my time leisurely strolling around the grounds. I called a few family members to check in.
There's a lovely little Saxon era church up there called St. Mary in the Castle.
Also, next to the church you'll notice the remains of a Roman era lighthouse - it is the only Roman lighthouse left in the world.
The Castle itself was also great - beautiful views of the Dover valley and the Channel, and very faintly in the distance, you could see the tips of the cliffs of France.
On returning to Canterbury I met another friend, Gregory, for a dinner of Belgian Mussels before we met Michael for drinks and pub crawling.
All in all, it was a great day!
Now back to work - saving the church! This week should be a bit more eventful than last week. The last couple of days of the Conference get into the sticky issues: the authority of scripture, human sexuality, and the proposed Anglican Covenant.
At Saturday's press conference the Conference Organizers tried to pull a slick one on us. They advertised an entirely uninteresting press conference. Being the end of the week with everyone so tired, and being that it was billed as so uninteresting, very few people went. At it, however, a bound, proposed version of a set of Anglican Communion Canons was released. Wow! They thought we'd just let it slip by!
So be on the lookout for backlash from that this week. I'll keep you posted!