Lambeth Palace Conference 2022

A lot can happen when you gather 660 bishops and 500 spouses for twelve days in the sprawling campus of the University of Kent!  We have just returned from the Lambeth Conference, as participants in this extraordinary gathering, with a profound sense of gratitude for the privilege of being part of the event, and indeed for being members of the worldwide Anglican Communion. We have returned with a renewed sense of hope generated by the palpable presence of the Holy Spirit moving among us all.
The theme was “God’s Church for God’s World” and we studied the First Letter of Peter to illuminate our deliberations across an immense range of topics.  The first two days were a retreat at Canterbury Cathedral looking at I Peter, and most of the days that followed began with a bible study of the letter.  The Conference was rooted in prayer and Scripture.
The bible study groups were the context of much of our conversation, making new friends, and where we learned a huge amount about the challenges and joys of life and the church in different parts of the world. We met in the same group each day both for bible study and to deliberate one or two major topics.  Between us, we were in groups that included bishops from the West Indies, Myanmar, Canada, Kenya, the US, India, Australia and Southern Africa.  These groups were such gifts for all of us, and places where we heard extraordinary stories of the work of God’s Spirit in different parts of the world.
In these groups we discussed a huge range of issues of importance to church and world, including the climate crisis, mission and evangelism, discipleship, Christian unity, Anglican identity, safeguarding, inter-faith relations, science and faith, and human dignity which, as well as considering human sexuality, also addressed poverty, inequality, racism, colonialism, slavery and conflict. 
While all these topics are immensely important and challenging we probably found our greatest common ground – and common concern – around the climate crisis.  In an extraordinary day spent at Lambeth Palace, which began with messages of encouragement from the Queen and the Secretary General of the UN, we heard from each other of the catastrophic impact of climate change – and the need to motivate governments around the world to respond with utter seriousness.
While we spent just an hour in our groups looking at the matter of sexuality, anxiety and tension around this topic was evident for the first few days, until, introducing the theme, the Archbishop of Canterbury changed the whole framework of the debate by spelling out the obvious reality that there are (at least) two viewpoints, both deeply rooted in Scripture, both held by sincerely faithful people.
Validating the reality of these two viewpoints changed the debate.  We are no longer talking about who is right and who is wrong, but how the “traditional” view of marriage, and the view that same sex relationships and marriage can also be part of the Christian understanding of marriage, are held together. The Archbishop underlined this by declaring “I neither have, nor do I seek, the authority to discipline or exclude a church of the Anglican Communion. I will not do so.”
 Both of us believe, along with many other bishops in the Church of England, that this will pave the way for a fruitful and faithful outcome to the Living in Love and Faith process that the Church of England is taking part in and many of you will have shared in through the LLF course. We both continue strongly to affirm and celebrate the gift of LGBTI+ people in and for the church, and just as strongly condemn all forms of homophobia in whatever guise that appears.  We are fully committed to the ongoing LLF process as it moves into a new phase this Autumn, and to the listening and discernment in which we are called to share. 
Listening and discerning were the qualities that were most employed through this Conference.  It was humbling to hear of the circumstances of so many bishops around the world and the challenges they and their churches face – and the hope and joy with which they face them. And we have come away renewed in our hope for the whole Anglican Communion, and renewed in our hope for the proclamation and living of the Gospel in our corner of that, here in Suffolk.

Page last updated: Thursday 11th August 2022 11:34 AM
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