The conference has completed two days as I write this and I have to say that the experience has been truly eye-opening. I have heard all of my life about the global Anglican Communion that we are blessed to belong to, but I have now experienced it firsthand. One of the very first things that I noticed on Monday morning when I arrived for the start of the conference were the Ugandan, Nigerian and Kenyan women arrayed in their dignified and colorful traditional garb. When the conference MC asked people from different continents to stand, there was quite a contingent from North America, Australia, and Southeast Asia but the overwhelming amount of Africans present at this conference was a very strong and visual reminder that the vast majority of Anglican Christians today are in fact African. Something like 2/3 of the world’s 90 million Anglicans are from Africa and it is obvious looking around the plenary sessions. The gathering is a truly global gathering, with faithful Anglicans from over 60 countries in attendance, and it has been a powerful reminder that our fellowship at St. Laurence is part of a very large global family.
At the Conference, we’ve been assigned to small groups so that we can share both the joys and the challenges we face living out our faith. I’ve heard amazing stories of the good work being done by the folks in my small group: two Aussies, a bishop from Nigeria, a bishop from Uganda, and a woman from Uganda who runs a girls school. I’ve been able to share with them the joys and challenges we face at St. Laurence and it's been a humbling experience hearing them pray for the St. Laurence family.
Tuesday afternoon the Conference paused and all of us went in different directions to venerate the holy sites that are all around Israel. There were about 500 of us who chose to go to Bethlehem, to make a pilgrimage to the place where Jesus was born. The world’s oldest, continually active church is there on the site where Christ was born and just below the main body of the church, they’ve preserved the cave where Mary brought forth the Son of God. As I stood in that holy place, I want you to know that I prayed for all of you. It was hard not to feel Christ’s presence in that place and just as I felt his presence there in Bethlehem I prayed that each of you would know and feel His presence in your lives today and every day.