Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, has asked for prayers for wisdom and for love as the primates of 38 Anglican provinces answer his invitation to gather at Canterbury to discuss
“very, very difficult issues – within the life of the Anglican Communion but also hugely difficult issues that are affecting the whole church of Christ and our whole world.”
His video call for prayer can be viewed at the Primates2016 site, which explains those issues with a little more specificity:
The agenda will be set by common agreement with all Primates. It is likely to include the issues of religiously-motivated violence, the protection of children and vulnerable adults, the environment and human sexuality.
The meeting begins January 11 and continues until the 16th. Elsewhere on the site, Welby says,
“Our way forward must respect the decisions of Lambeth 1998, and of the various Anglican Consultative Council and Primates’ meetings since then. It must also be a way forward, guided by the absolute imperative for the church to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, to make disciples and to worship and live in holiness, and recognising that the way in which proclamation happens and the pressures on us vary greatly between Provinces. We each live in a different context.
“The difference between our societies and cultures, as well as the speed of cultural change in much of the global north, tempts us to divide as Christians: when the command of scripture, the prayer of Jesus, the tradition of the church and our theological understanding urges unity. A 21st-century Anglican family must have space for deep disagreement, and even mutual criticism, so long as we are faithful to the revelation of Jesus Christ, together.”
Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, will be in attendance. From the Episcopal Digital Network:
“I look forward to being present with my fellow primates as we gather for prayer and conversation and as we support each other in ministry.
“I invite Episcopalians to join me in prayer for this gathering, that God will be fully present with us and that we may follow our Lord Jesus in the ways of His love and in so doing be part of God’s blessing to the world.”
The Vatican is sending to Canterbury a number of relics for display in advance of the meeting, as reported by Religion News Service:
The first item to arrive is an ivory handle of a staff, or crozier, used by St. Gregory, the pope who helped establish Christianity in England in the sixth century. It was Gregory who sent St. Augustine to England to help convert the Anglo-Saxons.
Valued at $365,505, the handle will be on view to the public and the 38 Anglican prelates gathering this weekend to attend a make-or-break meeting of the 80 million-strong Anglican Communion, which is bitterly divided on the subjects of full rights for gays, the ordination of women as priests and their consecration as bishops.
The idea of the two Christian churches temporarily exchanging relics came after a cricket match between Catholic and Anglican priests in 2014.
Online conversation is using the hashtag #Primates2016.
Photo: “Mobilising Faith Communities in Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict (15862086073)” by Foreign and Commonwealth Office – Mobilising Faith Communities in Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons