Lambeth Conference: the official release

(Editor's note: see boldfacing below)

ACNS, London , 3 July 2008

Timely issues to be addressed in “purposeful” discussion in Canterbury

The Secretary of the Lambeth Conference, the Revd Canon Kenneth Kearon has written a letter to the bishops attending the forthcoming Canterbury meeting outlining the form of discussion leading to “Reflections” that will mark the process of sharing what the Conference wishes to share with the wider church at its conclusion.

The programme indicates that issues and themes cover a vast array of serious matters such as Gender Violence, Sexuality, Environment, the Anglican Covenant and mission and evangelisation.

The Lambeth Conference is not synod or convention, but a gathering of bishops and spouses under the theme “Equipping Bishops for Mission”.

The letter says, “Among the desired outcomes anticipated by this diverse group from across the Communion was not so much debates, position papers , votes and resolutions but participation on an equal footing, listening as well as speaking and the emergence of wisdom and a common mind.”

The Primate of Cape Town, the Most Revd Thabo Makgoba, proposed to the Lambeth Design Group (LDG) and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the concept of Indaba, which was readily adopted by the Archbishop Williams and will form the way the bishops will work together during their time in Canterbury.

Indaba is a Zulu word for a gathering for purposeful discussion and is both a process and method of engagement, and offers a way of listening to one another concerning challenges that face the Anglican Communion.

Each Indaba group will nominate one of their group whom they believe to be most capable of carrying their views and the fruit of their discussion into the reflections process. Their ‘Listener’ joins a Listening Group under the chairmanship of Archbishop Roger Herft of Perth, in Western Australia.

Canon Kearon states, “Working with the summaries of the fruit of Indaba arising from each group, it will be their duty to generate a common text which reflects authentically the Indaba.” The text must reflect the mind of the bishops attending the 2008 Conference.

The intention is that the Listening Group will meet in four open sessions. Here all bishops can comment on the developing text. It is envisaged that in this way every bishop attending the conference will be given the opportunity to “shape the Reflections” from what emerges.

The letter concludes, “The hope of the Lambeth Design Group is that this process will permit the development of a Reflections Document which will meet the objectives set out for it, and be available on the last day of the conference to be received as an authentic account of the engagement of the bishops together in the service of Christ.”

The Lambeth Conference comprises some 650 bishops and their spouses for the every ten-year conference at the University of Kent at Canterbury and Canterbury Cathedral.

The Revd Canon Kenneth Kearon is Secretary General of the Anglican Communion
The Most Revd Roger Herft is Archbishop of Perth, Australia and served as Lambeth Conference Chaplain in 1998
The Most Revd Thabo Makgoba, Primate of Southern Africa, is a member of the Lambeth Design Group
The Most Revd and Rt Hon Rowan D Williams is the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury

Comments (1)

It's good to see this process fleshed out so that all in the Communion have a better idea of how it will work.

The process sounds exactly like what is needed and has been missing. Talking with each other, rather at each other. And including all voices, rather than working to a majority opinion imposed on all. It doesn't hurt that it gives a place of honor to a proven non-Western process.

I also like that not only will the Archbishop of Australia be the Lambeth spokesperson, but an Australian bishop will chair the Listening Group.

And I have trust that each group will choose its "listener" wisely.

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