15 February 2007

Why come to Tanzania? The right hand of fellowship

It was expensive to come here. Not just for me, but for Peter Akinola, Rowan Williams, Katharine Jefferts Schori, and every primate. It was costly for all the reporters who are here, for representatives of conservative and progressive groups, for everyone.

Was it worth it? Yes, because without these meetings we are talking about each other, not with each other. As Colin Coward observed yesterday, it makes one think about what one writes on a blog when you know the person you're writing about will see you in a few hours. People are talking across "party lines" here. I don't know that we'll heal any rifts, but we'll know each other much better by the time we all take the long journey home.

Here's one vignette of the value in being here. Yesterday Davis Mac-Iyalla met his primate. Is that extraordinary in itself? Not particularly, but for one thing. Davis is a well-known gay Nigerian and his primate is Peter Akinola. A couple of weeks ago, the NY Times reported that Peter Akinola had never knowingly shaken the hand of a gay person. And yet yesterday, they had a face-to-face encounter and Davis was warmly greeted by +Peter. Was either person changed by the encounter? It's hard to say. Certainly though the meeting meant very much to Davis. You can read about the meeting on Colin Coward's excellent blog.

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