Bishop Michael Ingham and Gwen Ingham at Lambeth, 2008

July 26 - Gwen Ingham Gives a Spouse's Perspective

From my perspective, the Lambeth Spouses Conference of 2008 feels a lot more open and spiritually centred than that of 1998. I believe this reflects the faith and wisdom of Mrs. Jane Williams, Archbishop Rowan's wife, and coordinator of the 2008 spouses program. She is giving us plenty of time to explore more of our stories through bible study, plenaries, workshops and worship and the music is truly wonderful. I hope to share it with you when I return.

We've also just begun more meaty sessions with yesterday learning more about climate change and its effect on our lives in both the polar north and south. As in '98, though, the highlight for me at Lambeth is the faith I receive from my sisters in vastly different communities from that in Vancouver.

We were moved to tears by a spouse's story of living as a religious minority in a country where blasphemy laws, Taliban and Al-Qaeda raiders make it impossible to know if her husband would be returning from a parish visit. Another woman tells of being woken up any time of night when someone comes to her doorstep with three homeless orphans whose mother has just died of AIDS and whose grandmother has died of tuberculosis.

I was given great hope on Thursday when 1600 of us marched in London to support and pressure our governments to meet the Millennium Goals which would include halving world poverty by 2015. It was important to me to see the bishops work together toward one common goal. We do that best in the Anglican Communion and I pray that the spirit of this morning will continue in the next week as we listen to each other and tell our stories.