Lambeth Conference Diary
Sunday August 7th
The final countdown
This Conference has been so well thought through and one of the best features is that the group in which we do the business of the Conference in the Lambeth Call sessions is the same group that we have grown to know as we study the Bible together. On Friday the Lambeth Calls was on the theme of discipleship while on Saturday Bishops issued statements of support for areas of the Communion that were facing particular crises. On Friday Archbishop Justin gave his keynote address in which he called us quite simply to live as Christians in the world. He ended with the words: a church that leaves the world unchanged has been changed by the world. On Saturday we reflected on the challenges of the decade to come with help of ecumenical visitors.
One of the great riches of the Conference has been the wealth of conversations with people from across the Communion and seminars on diverse topics. Saturday was a day when I concentrated on how a greater knowledge and understanding of science could aid our discipleship and service of God’s world. An unexpected joy of being at one of these science seminars was meeting the Bishop whose Diocese includes Patagonia, the Rt Rev Brian Williams [pictured]! The worship at Conference has been superbly led: joyful and playful. The final Evening Prayer was led by Bishops from Chile who put their heart and soul who so obviously enjoyed the music led by the worship band
Archbishop Justin gave his closing address on Sunday morning. He sent us out in mission using the Five Marks of Mission: Tell the good news of salvation, Teach, baptise and nurture new believers , Tend those in need, Transform the unjust structures of society and Treasure the one planet, God’s world, on which we all depend.
How can we put all this into practice? “Be welcoming of the Holy Spirit” the Archbishop said. “This is a time of hope, because hope is of God. Archbishop Justin received a standing ovation.
We gathered for a final Eucharist in the Cathedral in and continued singing outside in the afternoon sunshine enjoying our fellowship. The Lambeth Conference finished as it started, with supper on the field in the evening as the sun sets
Saturday August 6th
Climate Change at the front line
"People eat with the sea under their chairs...when king tides come nobody is safe"
Rt Revd Patterson Worek, Bishop of Bankes & Torres in the Church of Melanesia spells out the grim reality of climate change on the Pacific islanders of Vanuatu, Kiribat and Tuvalu.
Friday August 5th
Wednesday began early and with all the Bishops discovering a great British tradition of queuing! We were being taken to London to visit Lambeth Palace Gardens to spend a day reflecting together on Environment and Sustainable Development. But first, 650 Bishops and Spouses had to board the coaches! In Archbishop Justin's opening address, we learned that there had been a garden on the site before the Palace was built in the eleventh century. So this place, in the heart of London, had been cultivated for a thousand years. We were encouraged to enjoy the garden and to pray in the space set apart for reflection on the theme of the day, “Environment and Sustainable Development.”
As we arrived, we had passed Christians who were patiently waiting to draw our attention to the Climate Crisis. They stood quietly outside the gates of the Palace with banners ready to pray or explain their concerns to the Bishops as they arrived. Many stopped to talk or pray.
After our initial enjoyment of the Palace Garden, we were invited into a vast Marquee for lunch. After a welcome message from HM the Queen, Archbishop Justin spoke and introduced the Communion wide Initiative, The Communion Forest. We are all encouraged to set up a new creation care initiative in our Dioceses in the way most suitable for our own context, whether about tree planting or grassland or water.
Next, we listened to the Most Revd Julio Murray Thompson, Primate of the Iglesia Anglicana de la Region Central de America and Ms Elizabeth Wathuti, a young climate activist reflect on different aspects of the problems we face as a world community. It was good to have people from different parts of the Anglican Communion who shed light on how the climate crisis was affecting them. Adrian and I sat with Bishop Julio C. Martin of South East Mexico and his wife Imeldar Bejar.
It was sobering to learn how they could already observe a significant rise in temperature in their region.Conversation was not only about the climate emergency. I was glad to meet an old friend of St Davids, Bishop Hovakim Manukyan [pictured], Primate of the Armenian Church in Great Britain, also sitting at our table.
In the afternoon, we gathered to pray together outside. As part of the Communion Forest initiative. Archbishop Justin and Mrs Welby planted a tree and encouraged us to follow a tradition that was taking root across the Church of England of Bishops giving small saplings to their confirmation candidates. We had a last chance to enjoy the garden and then set of back to Canterbury, beginning our journey back by boat.
On Thursday we returned to our pattern of hearing a Bible study from the Archbishop, then studying the passage further in our groups. It has been a privilege to study the scriptures with wise voices from around the Communion. After the Lambeth Call sessions on Christian Unity, presented by our own Bishop Gregory (St Asaph) and Inter Faith Relations, we got ready to attend a reception at the Old Palace at Canterbury hosted by the Archbishop and Mrs Welby.
This Lambeth Conference has been busy and most people are tired. What has made it special for me has been the fellowship in the daily bible study groups. These groups have been the same people we have discussed the Calls with. Our business discussions have grown out of of our times of studying the scriptures together day by day. It has been a rich experience indeed.
Wednesday August 3rd
On Monday the Conference theme was Anglican Identity while on Tuesday we looked at Reconciliation and Human Dignity.
Disquiet with the way the process of discussion had been managed in Saturday’s session on Mission and Evangelism was resolved and a different way of proceeding was put to the Conference. It was a much better process so that when the Call on Anglican Indentity had been accepted, much to the relief of all concerned, the Bishops of the Anglican Communion were able to have Saturday's Call for Mission and Evangelism presented to them again and this time they could put their whole weight behind it!
The Call documents are weighty pieces of work which explore how to put into practical action their specific themes. After they have been received by the Bishops, they are taken back to the Dioceses to discuss how they can be put into practice right across the Communion, in Mexico, Alaska, Kenya, Madagascar and St Davids. So you will be hearing about them!
The atmosphere surrounding the debate on the Call on Human Dignity was serious. The Call Document is a significant and wide ranging piece of work which seeks to give the Anglican Communion a common framework by which we can work towards protecting the dignity and well being of all human beings accountably and in the same way across the whole Communion. The document names the impact of the ongoing legacy of colonialism, the slave trade and unjust labour practices. The Call draws attention to worsening of extreme poverty and unjust economic and social structures across the globe. While all the Bishops would be united in wanting to address such issues, this Call also includes matters where there is “deep disagreement” between provinces. For example, while the majority of provinces do not marry or bless the civil marriages or partnerships of same sex people nor expect to change their position, some Diocese do, but the way in which this was expressed within the Call, it enabled those Bishops present to remain together within the Communion with this difference. This was greeted with great relief by the Bishops present. As a Bishop from Kenya, a Province that opposes any change from traditional marriage doctrines, said to me after the Call, “ we are family.”
On a lighter note, on Tuesday evening I went to a very joyful dinner with all the other women Bishops at the Lambeth Conference. We were hosted by Bishop Pushpa from Nandyal Lalitha and Bishop Sarah Mullally from London. It was a marvellous end to the day.
Tuesday August 2nd
Archbishop Andrew, the Primus of Scotland, Mark Strange, and I were joined by other Bishops from across the Communion to draw attention to the huge profits made from nations like Zambia because of the way their debt repayments are scheduled. Christian Aid and Cafod amongst other charities are calling for debts to be cancelled.
On Sunday, we were privileged to attended a wonderful service in Canterbury Cathedral. As you can imagine, it took a great deal of time to process 500 or more Bishops to their seats! It was a wonderfully sunny morning and we must have looked a very strange sight to the tourists as we walked through Canterbury towards the Cathedral dressed in our robes. The service included music and Anglican Liturgy from across the Communion. It was both joyous and moving.
The theme for Sunday’s work is an important one: Safe Church. We heard a very learned and interesting succession of speakers talking about how different provinces were tackling this vital concern and how we might support one another in making sure we took it forward. In the second session, the Bishops had the second Lambeth Call on Safe Church. The process seemed to run much more smoothly that the first Call process had and the Conference was pleased to affirm the work that had been done and agreed to take it forward.
The Conference also agreed to call upon the instruments of the Communion to make the safety of all persons in the provinces of the Anglican Communion a priority of their focus and care and set out specific ways to achieve this in own areas of work. We promised to adopt the Charter for the Safety of People within the Churches of the Anglican Communion and to implement the Protocol to ensure all Provinces share information about ministers who move between one province and another. We promised to implement proper Safeguarding Guidelines for children, young people and vulnerable adults and ensure we have proper systems in place across the Communion to prevent abuse and support those who have been abused. We all promised to feed back our progress to the Communion beginning with providing a first report to the ACC meeting in 2023.
The day’s formal programme ended with the Church in Wales leading Evening Prayer together with the Chaplaincy prayer team and the wonderful Lambeth Conference worship band who had learned Diolch i Ti yr Hollalluog Dduw for the occasion. Their Welsh was superb and our team of Archbishop Andrew, Bishop June and Bishop Mary did us proud.
Monday August 1st
Friday July 29th
Our Retreat at Canterbury Cathedral, that began the Lambeth Conference, concluded today. We were treated to another inspiring address on I Peter. The Revd Prof Jenn Strawbridge reminded us that “ Scripture doesn’t offer counsel for if anxiety happens. Scripture speaks to us about when anxiety happens.”
Linking up: Bishop Joanna meets Bishop Bahati and his wife Muhigirw from our twin diocese of Bukavu in the DRC
Spending time with Bishops from across the Communion and hearing something of the challenges they face puts all the anxieties we face as a Diocese in context. It is a privilege to be here. It is a joy to make contact with brothers and sisters from such different contexts but all united in our common love of Jesus.
We spent a very hot afternoon queueing up around a field in choir dress patiently waiting to have our photographs taken as a moment of our time together
On Thursday night Archbishop Justin had given his stirring opening keynote address. He told us in no uncertain terms that we would not be forgiven if at this Lambeth Conference, the Bishops of the Anglican Communion only looked inward and failed to address the great issues that face the world. He reminded that while as Christians we believe that evil is real and that therefore crises will be normal, we are called to look outwards and to new depths of holiness. We should be encouraged by the passionate commitment to justice we see amongst young people. His analysis of the problems facing us and the signs of Hope were inciteful and all based in I Peter which is the scriptural text in which this Conference is rooted.
There is so much being put on at the Conference alongside the main events. Adrian and finished our day watching fascinating films put together by the first nations of Aotearoa and Polynesia and of Brazil about the effects of climate change and economic exploitation. We went to bed very much looking forward to what was to come next!
Thursday July 28th
Bishop Joanna and Bishop June Osborne
Adrian and I have just finished our first full day at the fifteenth Lambeth Conference. Bishops and their spouses have gathered from around the world at the University of Kent to meet, pray, study the scriptures and talk together.
In our introductory sessions on the 27th July, the Bishops met in person with the online group we had been meeting with in the run up to the Conference.
Today, the 28th, we began our Retreat, the Bishops meeting in Canterbury Cathedral and the spouses at the university. The theme of the Conference is God’s Church for God’s World. Being led in worship and in Bible study from people from all over the Anglican world is both a privilege and extremely humbling. Today I sat at lunch with two Bishops from Ghana, the Rt Revd Alexander Kobina Asmah and the Rt Revd Felix Odei Annancy and, during the retreat itself, met in a group with Bishops from the Episcopal Church of the United States to reflect with about the addresses.
The Biblical theme of the Conference is 1 Peter. We have been blessed to have had a commentary written for us edited by Prof Jenn Strawbridge and five excellent addresses given through the retreat which have been excellent so far. It is humbling to hear scripture expounded amongst a truly global audience.
Some of the questions raised or encouragements noted by one of the speakers as she expounded 1 Peter was “ How do you nurture hope where there seems to be no hope?” “Who is the God around whom we gather?” She reminded us that “God acts first: God’s grace has been extended to us and invited us in. Before we can even think of what we might do, how we might inhabit the world, we acknowledge that God has loved us first and offered us grace. And we know God because he is revealed in Jesus Christ.”
I found this very encouraging. Please pray for us and for Archbishop Andrew, Bishop Mary, Bishop Gregory, Bishop June, Bishop Cherry and Bishop John as our Lambeth journey continues tomorrow.