It took nearly 30 minutes to get them organized and 15 minutes to get photographed for posterity, but the nearly 600 spouses of Anglican bishops gathered here for the Lambeth Conference sang, laughed and, in all, seemed to have a grand time as they either sat or stood under the heat for their official photograph at 10:30 this morning.
The bishops had their turn – and took longer, noted some wives who were on site to take photos of their “man” – at 2 p.m. under overcast skies.
The U.S. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori was the only woman to sit alongside her fellow primates on the front row; the 16 other women bishops were spread out with their male colleagues from around the world.
The official Lambeth photographer cajoled the spouses and gave instructions as he took a total of four shots. “Put your feet together, chin up. That’s great,” he said, but then added after the first shot, “Not bad, but not really good.” His remark drew much laughter from spouses who had earlier sang “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” as they waited for other spouses to climb the bleachers that had been set up near the picnic area, which overlooks the historic Canterbury Cathedral.
Lynne Samways-Hiltz, who is married to Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, sat on the front row along with other spouses of primates of the Anglican Communion. Richard Schori, spouse of the U.S. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori was the lone male on the front row.
A few bishops were on site, either to take photographs of their wives who looked their best that day, some dressed in colourful national costumes and head scarves. The bishop of Hyderabad, Pakistan, Rafiq Masih, was on hand with a wheelchair for his wife, Saleema. Bishop Rafiq told the Anglican Journal that he was “quite disappointed” that his request for a volunteer to help her wife move around the conference site had been ignored. As a result, he said, he has either been late for his own sessions or she would be confined to her room, unable to attend the spouses’ conference. The Journal tried to seek reaction from the media office but couldn’t put the question to anyone who might be able to respond to the concern.
As the bishops waited for their photographs to be taken, they sang, among others, Amazing Grace. At the end of the session, most milled about having their photos taken by province (as in the case of the Canadian house of bishops, who obliged to the Journal’s request for a group photograph). Many bishops took the opportunity to have a photo taken with the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who willingly obliged each and every request.
All 17 women bishops also had their turn and had their photograph taken on the same site as the first time women bishops were invited to attend the Lambeth Conference in 1998. Anglican Journal photographs of the photo session with bishops and spouses will be posted at http://forums.anglicanjournal.com/notes/lambeth/