Planning for the next Lambeth Conference, to be held in 2020 at the University of Kent in Canterbury, is well under way. Dr. Josiah Idowu-Fearon, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, shared some of his thoughts about it in a new blog post over at ACNS. He writes,
As I travel around the Communion, it has been encouraging to see the level of excitement and enthusiasm growing about next year’s Lambeth Conference. The Conference team has now received bookings from 27 different provinces. Bishops and spouses from around the world are signing up all the time and it is clear that momentum is building.
I am also excited about the Conference. The theme of being God’s people for God’s world is so important at a time when so much of our world is hurting. We are a resurrection people who have been transformed by God. And, as the Archbishop of Canterbury says in his video about his vision for the Conference, we are to be key in God’s transformation of the world around us. It is going to be wonderful to see bishops and spouses come from across the globe to be part of this amazing event.
I need to clarify a misunderstanding that has arisen. Invitations have been sent to every active bishop. That is how it should be – we are recognising that all those consecrated into the office of bishop should be able to attend. But the invitation process has also needed to take account of the Anglican Communion’s position on marriage which is that it is the lifelong union of a man and a woman. That is the position as set out in Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference. Given this, it would be inappropriate for same-sex spouses to be invited to the conference. The Archbishop of Canterbury has had a series of private conversations by phone or by exchanges of letter with the few individuals to whom this applies.
Idowu-Fearon goes on to say that,
The Design Group’s task is not easy: there are so many issues competing for space in the programme. A number of important subjects will be discussed including mission and evangelism; reconciliation; economic justice. Human sexuality will also be one of them.
It is probably not a fruitful exercise to read anything into either of these statements, though they do seem to make clear that the debate about the place of LGBTQ+ leaders (and their families) within the Communion is still alive and well.
Idowu-Fearon also provides links to videos recorded by both the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and The Most Rev. Thabo Magkoba, Archbishop of Cape Town, who is serving as chair of the Lambeth 2020 Design Group. Archbishop Welby expresses his hope that bishops will come and pray for mission and for those with whom they disagree. In his video, Archbishop Magkoba directly invites those who would consider not attending to, “come and express your difference.”