The Archbishop of Canterbury has set out his vision for the next once-in-a-decade meeting of the bishops of the Anglican Communion, saying that “the world . . . needs the good news of Jesus Christ.” He said that the world “needs to see it in our actions, envy it in our love together, and hear it in our confident proclamation of the good news of Jesus.” He made his comments in a video for the brand new Lambeth Conference website as the dates for the meeting were confirmed as Thursday 23 July until Sunday 2 August 2020.
Most of the meeting will take place at the University of Kent in Canterbury. There will also be a programme day in London and two Lambeth Conference Eucharists at Canterbury Cathedral.
“This conference is about listening to God, through scripture and in prayer and through each other, so we go out with our hearts on fire”, Archbishop Justin said in the video.
He also acknowledged the on-going disagreements in the Anglican Communion, most notably over sexuality and the interpretation of Scripture. “The differences we have are differences within the family”, he said. “They are about how we live as a holy people; how we live in a way that shows we are God’s people.
“We do have very important differences, but we must show that we respect each other as sisters and brothers in Christ, and that we learn to disagree in a way that demonstrates that we love and value each other. . . But whatever views we come with, we come to be under the authority of Scripture, and inspired by the Spirit.”
Last week, a group of leading New Testament scholars from around the world gathered at Lambeth Palace for the St Augustine Seminar – the start of a programme of preparing Bible study and biblical reflection for the Conference.
The main Bible Study text will be on the 1 Peter. In his video message, Archbishop Justin said that it would “lead us into all kinds of key themes. It leads us especially into the theme of being God’s people, in God’s world, for God’s world. ‘Once you were no people, now you are a people’. God has created us, made us, changed us, transformed us, and we are to be key in his transformation of the world around us.”
The Archbishop is currently sending invitations to every active bishop in the Anglican Communion and their spouse. The Church of England, the Church in Wales, the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church of Ireland are working on a “hospitality initiative” to enable bishops travelling from overseas to spend time in dioceses and parishes in the UK and Ireland in the days leading up to the Lambeth Conference.
The ticket price has been set at £4,950. A bursary scheme has been established to ensure every bishop is able to attend. More details are available on the Lambeth Conference website.
A number of Christian leaders from other denominations and church families will also be invited. The list of ecumenical guests is still being finalised.
The programme is being prepared by the Lambeth Conference Design Group, chaired by the Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba. It is being shaped by reflections from Primates of the Anglican Communion’s 40 Provinces, who are meeting in regional groups this year and next to have their say on the Lambeth Conference agenda.
Regional Primates’ Meetings have already been held in Oceania and Africa. The Americas regional Primates’ Meeting is taking place this week in Toronto, Canada. Primates from Europe, the Middle East and Asia will gather in three separate regional meetings next year. [ACNS]