May 7 Blog
Thursday already and we’re exhausted! Even having an afternoon bus tour through Kingston has not provided me with a sense of relaxation or rest.
But the tour was filled with important learnings. First, to see homes for families along the route the bus took that are no larger than my bedroom, covered with what I would call corrugated steel but seems to be called zinc here, and rusty zinc to boot. After the palatial King’s House where the GG lives, this brought me back to reality of the world where the gap between rich and poor continues to widen.
Stores along the route also were somewhat sobering…none without great screens of iron and gates that make them look like fortresses. No glass windows displaying wares, just these grates and a door. Obviously, this city needs to protect itself from itself.
Our trip took us to two parish churches, called so because in the past they were the only churches that allowed blacks to attend. We also had a significant time in the Jewish synagogue…there used to be six or seven and now there is only one. But the Jewish history in Jamaica goes back 250 plus years. The rabbi (Reform) welcomed us by saying first that his parents were married in the Kingston Parish Church (Anglican) because his mother was Anglican. The floor of the synagogue was covered with sand…only a few synagogues like that in the world. Apparently this was done to muffle sound when Jews gathered to worship in places where congregating was dangerous.
The National Gallery was also on the tour. A short trip through paintings from the twenties to the present day helped us see how the art developed from an intuitive style, untrained and entrancing, to quite trained and marvellous, and then a gallery with what I think must be the equivalent of Maud Lewis Jamaican-style. This Gallery needs a Norma Cotter painting, though!
On the business side of things, today was a time to think about and discuss the ecumenical relations that our church is involved in. We were joined by Old Catholics, the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox, the Lutherans (represented by Bishop Michael Pryse from Canada), and the World Council of Churches (another Canadian, John Gibaut) and others too. A Discernment Group was held on a variety of ecumenical topics. I attended one where we discussed local (read both Provincial, and really local) efforts at ecumenical connections. It was fascinating to hear so many examples of the value of Christian churches working together; of how, in some places, they work together to deal with the considerable threat of Islam. Rwanda and Ireland pointed to how hard they are working to come together as churches so that they may regain trust in the communities. When I was describing the deliberate connections made with Islamic leaders by our leaders after 9/11, it dawned on me that something that really represents how comfortable that relationship has become is “A Little Mosque on the Prairies”. You could see the amazement of many that this could happen!
Hanging over our heads is still the need for us to come to decisions about whether the Covenant is ready to go out to the Provinces for consideration and adoption, or not, or if we have to edit it in order to have it readily accepted. In the conversations around dining tables, we try to grapple with what is the best route. Time marches on and we will need to make those choices.
The Bible studies and regular worship maintain us, build community, and heighten our awareness of God’s presence in our deliberations. Prayers from your direction would help too.
9:45 tomorrow is labelled as a Decision-making Plenary on the Covenant and the Windsor Continuation Group’s recommendations. I don’t really expect a decision on either of those so soon. I think we may be in for some added on evening meetings in order to get there.
Going to crawl into bed and get ready!