Seventy percent of the world's Anglican bishops have registered for the Lambeth Conference with more on the way. This is a signal, says Rowan Williams, that more bishops are interested in relating to one another through the Communion and doing ministry than fighting each other for turf.
He also notes that the many Anglican organizations and partnerships that reach across the globe in the spirit of Christian service reflect a deep desire for unity that does some earthly good.
Archbishop Williams says:
In spite of the painful controversies which have clouded the life of the Communion for the last few years, there remains, as many people have repeatedly said, a very strong loyalty to each other and a desire to stay together. The fact that about 70% of bishops worldwide have already formally registered for the Conference, with a number of others who have signalled that they will attend, shows something of this desire. But it is also reflected in the life of so many Anglican organisations that continue to work across national and regional boundaries – the Mothers’ Union, the enormous variety of church-based development projects dealing with HIV/AIDS or educational matters, the partnership relations between bishops and dioceses from different parts of the globe – the relationship, for example, between my own diocese of Canterbury and the church in Madagascar, or between Salisbury diocese and the Sudanese province. These close and personal relationships, which are not often in the headlines because they simply carry on doing the work they set out to do, are part of the solid ground that helps us cope with the turbulence in other areas. The programme of pre-Lambeth hospitality which is being offered by local churches here in the UK will help to consolidate these relationships for the future, in ways that will respect the integrity of all.
Jane Williams says the Spouses Conference will cover important areas of Christian concern that are more than affect everyone.
We plan to look at some of the huge issues that face us all, and that diminish God’s people and make it harder for others to hear God’s good news. For example, the effects of ecological change, the challenge of health care projects, or the way in which gender violence affects our communities. For some of these themes, we will be joining the Bishops’ Conference, because these are not ‘women’s issues’. The whole people of God need to be challenged and have their needs heard and ministered to in these areas.
Despite heavy publicity that the Conference would be diminished by the absence of some, or perhaps even boycotted by certain Primates and their bishops, the conference has drawn a healthy response from a majority of the Communion's bishops.
Read: Anglican Communion News Service: Launch of Lambeth Conference 2008
Additional photographs and audio from Episcopal News Service.