LAMBETH: Low Visibility For Biblical Sexual Healing Groups
By Hans Zeiger in Canterbury
July 25, 2008
CANTERBURY -While gay and lesbian advocacy groups were given prime locations in the Lambeth Conference Marketplace display halls, two Biblically-grounded sexual healing groups are faced with lower visibility at the conference.
The first booth that one sees when entering the first Lambeth display hall at the University of Kent is the booth of Lesbian and Gay Christians and Our Friends. Integrity, a homosexual pressure group focusing on The Episcopal Church, is located near the front of the second display hall, to the rear of the first hall.
The Rev. Dawn McDonald, president of Zacchaeus Fellowship, a Canadian Anglican coalition for repentant homosexuals, asked conference organizers if her group could provide books in a conference packet for bishops at Lambeth. The organizers agreed to distribute a Zacchaeus book entitled Transformed by an Encounter with Christ, containing testimonies about healing. McDonald shipped several hundred books from Canada to Canterbury .
After the books had shipped, McDonald learned that they could not be distributed to the bishops after all. Conference organizers explained that the University of Kent was a green campus. Apparently, the university did not want excessive distribution of paper products based on its "Statement of Universal Environmental Policy," which commits the campus to "an active waste minimisation policy." Bishops would now have to pick up the books at the Zacchaeus booth instead of receiving them in their packets.
But to make matters worse, Zacchaeus was moved out of its anticipated prime booth location. Organizers of the Lambeth Conference initially told McDonald that her booth would be located near the front entrance to the first vendor hall. Then McDonald received word that her booth would be located at the back of the rear vendor hall, next to the back doors.
"We're trying to stay positive," said McDonald. "If we look hard enough, there's grace in everything."
The Rev. Don Alcock, who is working with McDonald at the Zacchaeus booth, said that he has been having some good conversations and receiving "lots of encouragement, especially from the African bishops who are here, positive comments even from folks who were firmly for blessings, who are surprised by our gentle approach. We provided them with food for thought."
Alcock also said it isn't bad to be next to the back door "where the fans are, so it's not as hot as it is over there."
A second Biblically-based sexual healing group also has lower visibility than some liberal organizations like Lesbian and Gay Christians and Our Friends, and Integrity. The Rev. Mario Bergner, an Anglican priest in the Boston area and founder of Redeemed Lives Ministries, said, "The perception would be that they've been given preferential treatment."
Redeemed Lives, a ministry that helps people out of sexual addictions with Scriptural counseling, had to pay double the rate that most other ministries and non-profits had to pay to get into the conference. When Bergner registered for a booth, he was told that all of the charity slots had been taken and that Redeemed Lives would have to pay the commercial rate-two times the 750 pounds paid by charities. For Redeemed Lives, this was not a problem, since a generous donor stepped up to help.
Like McDonald and Alcock of Zacchaeus Fellowship, Bergner is positive about his experience at the conference. "Reception has been in one sense really good because the Southeast Asians and the Global South people are pleased to find out that our organization exists. The Global South doesn't know what it is that we do. They have never heard of the redemptive approach. They assume that we're in the same line as the others"-such as Integrity, Inclusive Church , Lesbian and Gay Christians and Our Friends, and other sex-related organizations represented at Lambeth.
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