Mattins (said) in the cathedral at 7:30, followed immediately by Mass in the crypt chapel (the oldest section of the building, dating back well over a millennium), followed by breakfast in the refectory. Continuing to nurture new relationships; most here are strangers to one another. It does tax my introversion a bit.
Our first morning session was a long period of Bible study led by a Jamaican woman who now teaches in a theological college in Birmingham. From time to time she had us break out into small groups to discuss questions she would pose. Some of where she took us pressed a few of my buttons, so it was good that the process forced me to articulate discomfort rather than just feel it. After a break we continued with a presentation from another faculty member at the same college on missiology, the character of mission, and the "five marks of mission" (google that phrase). Again, some of my buttons were pushed. (Curious about my buttons? See entries in my main blog from last September when I was at a House of Bishops meeting).
After lunch, three more outside presenters talked to us about broad themes of justice, peace, and reconciliation. I particularly enjoyed the presentation from Paul Porter, Canon for Reconciliation at Coventry Cathedral. I can't say as much for the talk on economic theory from a chaplain (not an economist) at the London School of Economics. His point was that bishops are capable of speaking with authority on economic matters, and then proceeded to tell us what to speak. I'm not buying it.
By 3:30 we were free until Evensong, so I wandered on foot outside the cathedral close into the old section of the city inside the medieval walls. The cobblestone streets are narrow and quaint and the buildings are centuries old and they've made most of it a pedestrian-only zone. Yet, it's very touristy, with a variety of thriving retail businesses, including two Subway sandwich shops within a three minute walk of one another. I was on an expedition to acquire some supplementary food stuffs (nuts, mostly, and a little chocolate) for those times when the conference center fare is lacking. Evensong was scrumptious, of course. I particularly enjoyed the Palestrina anthem on the antiphon for the feast of the Conversion of St Paul, of which this is the eve.
After dinner I journeyed out to a pub with colleagues from Norwich and Papua New Guinea and had a pint of proper English bitter. Not my usual choice in beer. Now I can say I've done it.