Launch of Lambeth Conference 2008 - ACNS

Anglican Communion News Service

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams today launched the official programme for Lambeth Conference 2008 Equipping Bishops for Mission at Lambeth Palace. Joining Dr Williams on the panel were Archbishop Ellison Pogo (Archbishop of Melanesia and Chairman of the Design Group) and Archbishop Ian Ernest (Archbishop of the Province of the Indian Ocean). Mrs Jane Williams outlined the plans for the Spouses’ Conference which is being held alongside the bishops’ conference. Jane Williams was joined by Margaret Sentamu. 30 bishops from 17 provinces around the Anglican Communion also joined the press conference.

The texts of both presentations are available below.

Archbishop of Canterbury
I’d like to start by putting this year’s Lambeth Conference in some kind of context by saying a brief word or two about how it got started. The first Lambeth Conference was called by Archbishop Charles Longley in 1867 – partly, as it happens, in response to a crisis about the limits of diversity allowed in the Anglican churches around the world; so there’s nothing so very new about a Lambeth Conference meeting in a climate of some controversy. But the important new fact about the Anglican family of churches at that point was that it was a time when non-English and indeed non-white influences were for the first time making a real impact in the Communion, and needed to be celebrated and affirmed. Not only did the Canadian Church contribute strongly to the thinking around the Conference; it was also attended by the first black Anglican bishop, Samuel Crowther from Nigeria, who had been made a bishop just three years earlier. It was a moment when there was a real acknowledgement that a worldwide Church had to find ways of sharing its challenges and its triumphs – and some aspects of its decision-making.

The Conference has never been a lawmaking body in the strict sense and it wasn’t designed to be one: every local Anglican province around the world has its own independent system of church law and there is no supreme court. But there was already in 1867 a deep concern to find ways short of passing formal laws that would make sure that Anglicans around the world acted in a responsible way towards each other and stayed faithful to the common inheritance of biblical and doctrinal faith. This is as much a challenge now as it was then. But the very fact of the Conference shows that we have always been willing to look for such ways of setting our common life on a firm basis so that we can act and serve more effectively in our world.

The Conference this year has two key points of focus: strengthening the sense of a shared Anglican identity among the bishops from around the world, and helping to equip bishops for the role they increasingly have as leaders in mission, involved in a whole variety of ways in helping the Church grow. Because none of this would happen without a deeper commitment to prayer and studying the Bible, this year’s Conference will begin with a couple of days’ retreat, in which we can spend time together in quiet and begin to direct our minds towards the central issues of faith. And as in previous Conferences, every day will begin with worship and Bible study in small groups.

We’ve been exceptionally lucky in the gifts and the vision of the Design Group for this year’s Conference. Drawn from a wide range of backgrounds, they have come together in a remarkable way to create not only a programme of events – about which we can speak in more detail later – but a whole way of doing business. In contrast to previous Conferences, we have planned a larger number of medium-sized groups instead of larger issue-focused groups, so that more people can have a say in the discussion. We’ve called these ‘indaba’ groups, picking up an African word for meetings where significant questions are worked through in a community.

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.

In short, I believe we have, thanks to the hard work of our Design Group and Sue Parkes, our Conference Manager, an unusually varied and original programme – details of which are in your press packs - and a fresh style of working which will allow us both to confront differences honestly and to be focused anew on our primary tasks of service and mission. It is with real confidence that I introduce the work of this year’s Lambeth Conference to you, with enormous thanks to all who have laboured in organising it; I know its vision is supported by the prayers of many people in our Communion, and I hope many more will go on holding it in their thoughts and prayers in the coming months.

© Rowan Williams 2008

Mrs Jane Williams: Launch of Lambeth Conference 2008

Some of you may think of the Spouses conference as basically Jam and Jerusalem, more tea vicar or mitre-making and flower-arranging. There will certainly be food and singing in our programme, but there will also be a chance to meet some of the most interesting, committed and dynamic people in the Anglican Communion.

Bishops’ spouses are as varied as the spouses of people in any other profession would be, but we do have some things in common: like our faith, and the pains and pleasures of living with and supporting a bishop! 

Our planning group for the Spouses Conference has been a real privilege. I have learned a bit of what it’s like to live through drought, floods and elections in part of Australia, or to run micro-finance projects in Africa. Our sister from Myanmar was amazed to find that we knew far more about the troubles in her country than she did. This kind of family knowledge we have about each other across the Anglican Church is what builds our advocacy for each other, our prayer for each other, and our action for each other.

So our two main aims in the Spouses Conference are to learn from each other and to resource ourselves to be God’s People for God’s Mission.

In lots of Anglican provinces, spouses can hardly meet at all, because of distances and lack of resources, and while all bishops get some kind of training and resourcing for their role, their spouses may not. And for many of the people coming, this is the only break they will get in 2008, and for some of them, their only opportunity to travel outside their own country, ever. So we want to make the most of what will, for most of us, be a once in a lifetime chance to equip ourselves, in the company of others who really know what we need. Our programme gives time for quite a lot of telling our stories and learning how to listen to each other. In my own experience, this is where the reality of the ‘Anglican Communion’ comes alive, in hearing the diversity, richness, challenges and successes of other Christians around the world.
We also plan to make something together, which will symbolise our connectedness, and that communicates without words our variety and our unity. I think Margaret is going to tell us a bit more about that shortly.

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.

I hope it will become clear why I am proud to belong to this extraordinary company of Bishops’ spouses; I hope you will see just how varied the mission and ministry of the Anglican Communion is; and I hope we will go home at the end of Lambeth 2008, knowing that we have friends across the world on whom we can rely in good times and bad.

© Jane Williams 2008

15 Responses. Comments closed for this entry.

  1. Alice C. Linsley Says:

    Interesting timing of this news release, corresponding as it does with the Bishop of Jerusalem calling GAFCON “disastrous”.

  2. Alice C. Linsley Says:

    You may read the “leaked” minutes of the meeting between the Bishop of Jerusalem and Archbishop Akinola here: http://timescolumns.typepad.com/gledhill/2008/01/gafcon-disastro.html/

    Who would have leaked these minutes to Ruth Gledhill and Thinking Anglicans at the same time the Archbishop of Canterbury was to make an announcement about Lambeth 2008? And why was retired bishop William Swing, founder of the United Religion Initiative, in Jerusalem at the same time this meeting was going on?

  3. Bishop Ijaz Inayat Says:

    Dear Sister,

    Yet another conspiracy the link you gave does not open.
    You just now exposed how the traditional church works for its agendas and not for the MISSION of the Lord.

  4. Bishop Ijaz Inayat Says:

    The file not found is the reply from the ‘net’.

  5. Alice C. Linsley Says:

    Sorry about the bad link. Go to Ruth Gledhill’s blog. at Times Online.  It is the first story posted for Jan. 22, here: http://timescolumns.typepad.com/gledhill/

  6. Steven Berry Says:

    Alice,

    I know that you are busy, but, would it be possible for you to excerpt the pertinent information from the “leaked” minutes and give us a quick overview?

    Thanks

    Steve

  7. Bishop Ijaz Inayat Says:

    I was under the impression that “Jerusalem” is the centre of the work of God for the whole of mankind and particularly to the Christians (except the ones living in Muslim countries, w in Pakistan are not allowed to go to Jerusalem officially).
    But through one type of Anglican system it is limited to the ministry of one bishop (according to his own words)
    Read here http://timescolumns.typepad.com/gledhill/2008/01/gafcon-disastro.html#more

  8. Alice C. Linsley Says:

    Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome, Alexandria and Constantinople are the 5 original patriarchiates. All should be pilgrimage centers open to all people.

    Do not worry! What evil is done in darkness, God brings to the light.

  9. Steven Berry Says:

    Thanks Alice,

    Wading through this article has shown it to be little more than an exercise in misdirection, tap dancing, and semantic juggling. When all was said and done, only two things of substance were really stated.

    First, the Rev’d Canon Hosam Naoum said “They did not want to be forced to deal with issues that are not on their agenda yet” which “could create serious disputes on the level of the local churches in general and the Diocese of Jerusalem in particular, as well as ecumenically, theologically, and socially.”

    Secondly, when the Rev’d Canon Dr. Chris Sugden questioned “… in what way the conference was imposing on the diocese? The Rev’d Canon Hosam answered that the conference was imposing the issue of homosexuality on the diocese. “

    So, this media driven tempest in a tea pot really has nothing to do with any jurisdictional issues between Bishops at all.  The Rt Rev’d Suheil Dawani and the Rev’d Canon Hosam Naoum simply don’t want to address the issue of homosexual practice within the Church and are grasping for any argument (rational or irrational) against having to.

    Contrary to what The Rt Rev’d Suheil Dawani says, I would imagine that ecumenical relations would actually improve by taking a stand against unlawful and immoral sexual practices (hetero or homosexual). I am pretty confident that the Muslim population would be glad to hear that Anglicans have finally recognized that homosexual practice is wrong. Actually, now that I think about it,  other than certain segments within the Anglican Church, I don’t know of any major religion with a permanent presence within the Middle East generally or within Jerusalem specifically that countenances or promotes sexual deviancy.

    Judaism
    Orthodox Judaism views homosexual behavior as sinful.

    Islam
    All major Islamic sects disapprove of homosexuality.

    Zoroastrianism
    The Vendidad, a Zoroastorism text, details the penance for a worshipper who submits to sodomy under force as “Eight hundred stripes with the Aspahe-astra, eight hundred stripes with the Sraosho-charana.” (equal to the penalty for breaking a contract with the value of an ox), and declares that for those participating voluntarily “For that deed there is nothing that can pay, nothing that can atone, nothing that can cleanse from it; it is a trespass for which there is no atonement, for ever and ever”.

    Hinduism
    In a 2004 survey by Rajiv Malik, in Hinduism Today. October/November/December 2004, most swamis said they opposed the concept of a Hindu-sanctified gay marriage. Some of the law codes, such as that of Manu Smriti refer to both female and male homosexuality as a punishable crime.

    Buddhism
    Homosexual conduct and gender variance are seen as obstacles to spiritual progress in most schools of Buddhism.

    Sikhism
    World Sikh group against gay marriage bill, CBC News, Tuesday, 29 March, 2005, the world’s highest Sikh religious authority described homosexuality as “against the Sikh religion and the Sikh code of conduct and totally against the laws of nature,” and called on Sikhs to support laws against gay marriage.

    Jainism
    Chastity is one of the five virtues in the fundamental ethical code of Jainism. For laypersons, the only appropriate avenue for sexuality is within marriage, and homosexuality is believed to lead to negative karma.  Jain author Duli Chandra Jain wrote in 2004 that homosexuality and transvestism “stain one’s thoughts and feelings” because they involve sexual passion.

    So… when we let the obfuscation and smoke clear what legitimate argument against GAFCON being held in Jerusalem is left?

    None! Have a great time in Jerusalem.

    Bryden, since you are probably going (the world traveler that you are), could you send me a tee-shirt?(Smile)


    Shalom


    Steve

  10. Alice C. Linsley Says:

    Why would the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem not want to address the issue of homosexuality? Why would he even regard GAFCON as being about homosexuality? Think about it, and follow the money!

  11. Steven Berry Says:

    Alice,

    God help us if it is just about money.

    I learned what being a “man” (as well as “a man of God”) is about, by reading not only the Scriptures, but from Louis L’Amour. One of my favorite Louis L’Amour charactors is a tough and rugged cowboy named Conn Conagher.

    L’Amour has Conagher saying “I’ve covered a lot of country in my time, but when I take a man’s money I ride for the brand.” Then again he writes: “Conagher glanced around. When I take a man’s money, Kris, I do the job he hired me for. I don’t know no other way… You tell me something, Mahler. Where do you stand? Are you riding for
    the brand? Are you runnin’ scared? Or are you sellin’ out to that ... bunch of highbinders on the Ladder [a bunch of cattle rustlers]?”

    When I submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and vowed to be in obedience to Him and His Word; I committed “to ride for the brand.” I have never figured out why some find it so easy to sell their convictions for something as petty as money.

    Steve

  12. Alice C. Linsley Says:

    It is financial support that some have come to rely on. Started innocently enough with TEC figures like Frank and Phoebe Griswold and Bishop Allen Bartlett visiting Palestinian Christians in Israel and establishing ties with them that included various kinds of support. I suspect that Swings’ URI, which receives donations from some deep pockets (Soros, for example), funnels money to Palestinians via the Bishop of Jerusalem.

  13. Bishop Ijaz Inayat Says:

    GAFCON will be the second biggest event in Church History after the “Council of Nicea” and deserves to be called GAF Council of Jerusalem 2008.

    The time is at hand to clearly define once again what the Church ought to believe and what not. What is Biblical and canonical is the debate of the time all over the world like never before. This debate has engaged believer and otherwise at different blogs and websites like never before and I would request all brother and sisters to put in all their efforts in to these discussions as it is a clear awareness drive for many who were not previously aware of the situation.
    The “Diocesan officials” of Jerusalem like the officials of the “Church of Pakistan” are scared of the reaction from common Christians and the Muslim around them and want to sleep with the issue so as not to displease their financial supporters which saddens us.
    The Lord said, “You cannot serve two masters”. It is time that we declare that we will serve the Lord of life like Joshua.

  14. Alice C. Linsley Says:

    Yes, dear Bishop Inayat, it is time for united actions that speak louder than words.

  15. Bishop Ijaz Inayat Says:

    Dear readers,
    It may be worth reading again the views of the Nigerian Anglican Church’s views and statement dated 4th July 2006 about the Lambath 2008 at the following link.
    http://www.speroforum.com/site/article.asp?idCategory=34&idsub=127&id=4250