The Archbishop’s Task Group, who is working to “restore relationships, rebuild mutual trust and responsibility, heal the legacy of hurt and explore deeper relationships,” has proposed a Season of Repentance and Prayer around the Anglican Communion in lead up to Lambeth Conference 2020 amidst continued disagreement over theological issues, particularly surrounding human sexuality. The proposed season will take place the fifth week of Lent in 2020, March 29-April 5.
The Archbishop’s Task Group comprises members from around the Anglican Communion with differing views in order to represent the broad scope of Anglican theological perspectives and operates on a system of rotating chairmanship so that all members can fully join in the discussions.
The group was organized after the Primates’ Meeting in January 2016; they first proposed the Season of Repentance and Prayer in October 2017 and have been working on developing details ever since. One of the members of the group, The Bishop of West Malaysia, Archbishop Moon Hing of South East Asia, has written a prayer to be used during the week and the group is continuing to develop resources to make available to all those around the Anglican Communion who choose to participate.
As plans for the Season of Prayer and Repentance begin to become public, members of the group are quick to stress that the initiative is not meant to point fingers or accuse any members of the Communion but rather acknowledges a universal need for repentance. Bishop Linda Nicholls of the Anglican Church of Canada’s Diocese of Huron and member of the committee stressed this point, saying:
“we’ve been very clear when we first proposed a season of repentance that this is about the biblical admonition that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and that every one of us has areas in our lives individually, and corporately that require repentance…some of that repentance is around how we treat one another, how we have worked with, or not with one another. And that we believe that all of us can examine ourselves in the season of Lent.”
Nicholls also expressed hope for the future of relationships within the Anglican Communion, noting that the theological diversity in the Archbishop’s Task Group has given the members experience having open and honest conversations with those who hold differing beliefs and has helped them learn to enter those conversations and relationships remembering that they are all first and foremost serving Christ.
As the group looks forward to Lambeth 2020 when all bishops in the Anglican Communion will gather, Nicholls sees opportunities to share the work they’ve been doing, noting:
“we believe we have some ways that we can commend to the primates in advance of Lambeth 2020 in the hopes that the bishops will have some further conversation and continue to be willing to stay with what can be a painful time, knowing that simple solutions or quick solutions are not going to be the best solutions.”