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LAMBETH: Episcopal bishops given talking points

LAMBETH: Episcopal bishops given talking points

By Hans Zeiger in Canterbury
July 25, 2008

CANTERBURY-The Office of the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church distributed a list of media talking points to American bishops prior to the Lambeth Conference. The Rt. Rev. F. Clayton Matthews, Bishop of the Office of Pastoral Development, sent two "sample narratives" along with a "Messaging Strategy" to "Bishops Attending the Lambeth Conference" in June.

The "Messaging Strategy," prepared by Auburn Media, encourages people who speak to the press to use "a structure of three ideas that illustrate and underscore a single core message."

In a March House of Bishops meeting at Camp Allen in Navasota, Texas, bishops discussed the messaging strategy with communications strategist Macky Alston of Auburn Theological Seminary. According to Neva Rae Fox, spokesperson for The Episcopal Church, "all bishops" had the opportunity to provide input about the messaging strategy. A group discussion about the strategy lasted three hours, Ms. Fox said. Then Bishops Ed Little of Northern Indiana, Michael Curry of North Carolina, Neil Alexander of Atlanta, Mike Smith of North Dakota, Cate Waynick of Indianapolis, and Matthews of The Episcopal Church Office of Pastoral Development worked with Ms. Fox to draft the sample narratives.

According to Ms. Fox, the narratives and messaging strategy "were meant to be used as a tool that could be used in addressing groups and dioceses." It was intended for general use and not just for the Lambeth Conference.

However, Bishop Matthews wrote in his cover letter that the sample messages and messaging strategy were "for you to refer to and use as you prepare for the [Lambeth] Conference."

Furthermore, the first sample narrative is entitled "The 2008 Lambeth Conference," offering for its core message, "At the Lambeth Conference, the bishops of the Anglican Communion renew our deep unity in Christ." Supporting points include, "In Christ, we seek justice, love mercy, heal creation, and end poverty. And this is hard work," followed by "Jesus did not call us to agree but to love as he loves. And this is hard work."

The core message in the second sample narrative is, "When Anglicans work together through the power of the Holy Spirit, we change the world." A supporting point for this core message reads, "The church has focused on its mission rather than its disagreements in order to remain faithful."


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