Tuesday, 30 September 2014
When will there be another Lambeth Conference?
The website Anglican Ink has published a story which is headlined: Lambeth Conference cancelled. This turns out to be based upon the following item from ENS:
House of Bishops leaving Taiwan with ‘hearts and minds expanded’
…In response to a question from Rochester Bishop Prince Singh about budgeting for the next Lambeth Conference and speculation about when and if the gathering will be held, Jefferts Schori told the bishops that the conference will probably not happen in 2018, which would have fit the conference’s traditional 10-year cycle. No planning or fundraising has taken place for a 2018 meeting, she said. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby “has been very clear that he is not going to call a Lambeth [Conference] until he is reasonably certain that the vast majority of bishops would attend. It needs to be preceded by a primates meeting at which a vast majority of primates are present,” she said. “As he continues his visits around the communion to those primates it’s unlikely that he will call such a meeting at all until at least a year from now or probably 18 months from now. Therefore I think we are looking at 2019, more likely 2020, before a Lambeth Conference.”Whenever the next Lambeth Conference occurs “it will have a rather different format,” she predicted. For intstance, it is likely that spouses will not attend “simply because of scale issues and regional contextual issues. Bishops’ spouses fill very different roles in different parts of the communion and the feedback from the last one was that it did not serve the spouses particularly well,” Jefferts Schori explained…
According to Anglican Ink:
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on
Tuesday, 30 September 2014 at 4:26pm BST
The 2018 Lambeth Conference has been cancelled. The precarious state of the Anglican Communion has led the Archbishop of Canterbury to postpone indefinitely the every ten year meeting of the bishops of the Anglican Communion.
A spokesman for Archbishop Justin Welby told Anglican Ink that as the archbishop had not yet met with each of the primates of the communion, he would not be commenting on the news. Since his installation last year, the Archbishop of Canterbury has travelled extensively and plans on visiting the 37 other provinces of the Anglican Communion within the first 18 months of his term of office…
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Since Lambeth bishops have mostly made life difficult for the rest of us -- maybe they should not meet for a long time.
I hope this turns out to be true. Lambeth is a colossal waste of money and time and hardly more than a place for the posturing of the less talented and less tolerant.
The conference should go the way of the empire and of the C of E as an attempt at a "universal" body (as opposed to a legitimate national church). Conservatives have show an inability to distinguish between "recommendation" and Papal fiat, archbishops have demonstrated an inability to control the process, and all the rest of us a fed to the teeth with endless, meaningless "conversations" where no one listens, and with bishops being rude to each other. Spend the money on the poor, whom we have with us always, rather than the bishops, whom we can't seem to get rid of.
But you read it first on Thinking Anglicans when Simon Sarmiento made it clear that Lambeth was not coming in 2018.
Anglican Ink just filled in the story ...........
The trouble is, there will be an Anglican Communion Bishops's Conference in 2018, organised by GAFCON. Then they will claim to be the only legitimate representation of Worldwide Anglicanism.
Perhaps TEC can organise their own international gathering where the liberal voice of Anglicanism can be heard?
(We also need some new liberal provinces in the Global South. For example, there are three 'Anglican Churches' in Thailand. Only one is aligned with the conservative Province of South East Asia! The other two are independent.)
Oh. I see. Things have gotten rough among us so we're just not going to talk about it.
How does not coming to the table solve problems?
"The trouble is, there will be an Anglican Communion Bishops's Conference in 2018, organised by GAFCON. Then they will claim to be the only legitimate representation of Worldwide Anglicanism."
They will look like extremists, and no-one outside their own membership will care.
It is better to have a gathering of extremise, than to have the extremists in amongst the mainstream who feel the need to compromise out of politeness.
Let the Anglican Community's Militant Tendency talk amongst themselves. That way, the vast majority of Anglicanism which does not consist of homophobic obsessives will not find themselves lumped in. The British Prime Minister need have nothing to do with GAFCON, a far away conference of which he knows nothing and cares even less. The British Prime Minister would have to react if, for example, the established church in England was party to calls to discriminate against gay people. Leave them to it.
there has been increasing pressure on Lambeth Conferences to come up with joint resolutions that then acquired the character of binding legislation.
And already, some had not come to the table because they disagreed with what the others were doing.
If this is what "talking together" has been reduced to, it is probably not a bad idea to try a different way of having conversations.
Justin Welby meeting individual Primates may well be a good start for finding common ground and for mediation away from the high profile pressure cooker of Lambeth.
'They will look like extremists, and no-one outside their own membership will care.' Call them names if you like but they come from the fastest growing parts of the Anglican communion. They are not the fringe - we are. I care. They have vision, energy and resources we are going to need.
Lambeth went astray from a "conference" of bishops meeting to discuss issues of common concern, without any legislative authority to bind the actions of any particular province, and quickly morphed into a kind of unelected congress passing resolutions. It was a bad idea from the beginning, and only became worse as time when on.
The temptation of the church is to become a courtroom rather than a fellowship. Lambeth gave in to that temptation.
Daniel -- who is it that isn't willing to come to the table to solve problems? I don't think it's us (CofE, TEC, etc.). I think Erika's comment is wise (as so often).
"Things have gotten rough among us so we're just not going to talk about it."
Your point is well taken, but the problem is not the talking, which would be endless, but the listening, which would never begin.
Not sure the assertion that the 2018 conference has been postponed is entirely accurate. But if it is, why? Why are the extremists being permitted to derail the normal functioning of the Communion?
Lambeth is just a family reunion. If some members of the family do not show up, well, that's regrettable, but presumably they'll be invited next time?
Why should we "come to the table" when the conclusions are foregone? The so-called traditionalists refuse to listen, the bishops are only interested in their personal power, the laity is regarded as grunts with no say.
Why do this? Why support it? What has it *actually* accomplished? Not a heck of a lot, guys. It's a vanity project.
I felt a great disturbance in the force, as if hundreds of pontifical voices were suddenly silenced.
There are real problems here.
You can only invite people to come.
These guests are choosing to stay away and will not come if others are invited. And even then they want to control what is said and done. At the same time these guests are not just staying away they are planning to make your home life difficult.
These people are not just happy to see us persecuted, tortured, imprisoned and murdered they are seeking laws that make that persecution mandatory and turn everyone into an informer.
I guess that while I am deeply sad that this part of the Anglican project has been taken over by Sydney and their allies, I am relieved that THEY have made the break.
It matters little who is on the fringe. But surely we must be very cautious about welcoming their vision, energy and resources when it comes with such a toxic hatred for gay people.
There have been groups in the past who had the answers to the ills of our world and it seemed very attractive but this came with a murderous hostility to one or another group who had to be exterminated. The extraordinary thing is just how many good and ordinary people were and are willing to embrace these solutions and look away when it gets nasty. As I said we may be fortunate that we are rejected by these people because of our hospitality, but I believe that Christianity will be freed from this shameful identity as gayhaters.
Perhaps instead of having a Lambeth Conference of bishops every decade, we should have an International Anglican Conference and Festival every two or three years. We could rotate the country in which it is held. The first one might take place in Canterbury. The next Conference could be staged in New York. The following Conference might be held in Sydney, etc. Such international gatherings could have a meeting of bishops and archbishops as part—I say, part—of the gathering, and who shows up shows up. There could also be meetings for priests, deacons and laypeople, on issues of specific concern to them. But it should be broader than just meetings. Panels, talks, worship services, theological debates, films, etc. open to anyone who registers, should be at the center.
Let us observe this is not some sort of formal announcement from Lambeth Palace, but a release in which the PB of TEC purports to the HOB in Taiwan what is going to happen re: Lambeth Conference.
Given that some primates have not only refused to take part in the study and dialogue on sexuality affirmed at Lambeth 1978, 1988 and even 1998 but also blocked their churches from doing so, I wonder if ways can be found to share the findings from other provinces more widely? The internet, in particular, offers possibilities for communicating widely, though repressive governments and their allies among senior clergy may try to interfere.
For instance, many Anglicans are simply unaware of sixty years of biblical scholarship on sexuality and have been repeatedly told by their 'leaders' that everyone who does not obey their own diktat rejects the Bible, though this is patently untrue. It would be good to get the word out more widely, in not-too-academic English, along with some basic scientific and historical facts.
*Call them names if you like but they come from the fastest growing parts of the Anglican communion*
Some of them also have opinions that would be illegal were they uttered on UK soil. For example, calling for the murder of people based on their sexuality would be grounds for prosecution. How do you think the CofE would look were the police to intervene during a live-streamed debate and arrest the speakers for an offence that most people would, rightly, regard as vile?
I agree with you IO - but that was not your original point. Nor are you responding to mine.
The rejection of the Anglican Covenant by the English dioceses means that the Instruments of Communion remain a busted flush. Shuttle diplomacy is preferred to the setting up of global institutional structures designed to thwart progress. The maintenance of the last significant resolution of the decennial gathering by GAFCON brings into sharp relief the civil legislation adopted by the respective countries, with GAFCON and TEC clear about where they stand, and CofE representatives dreadfully compromised to breaking point, as evidenced by the February HoB statement.
'An expensive exercise in futility' is how one bishop attending Lambeth 2008 summed up the experience. With little prospect of a coherent united Communion-wide theological policy on gays in the offing, best to keep any high level meetings as low-profile and informal as possible, as Justin seems to be doing quite ably.
"They are not the fringe - we are. I care. They have vision, energy and resources we are going to need."
This is a bit like the relationship between the Communist Party of Great Britain and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (bear with me here). The CPGB followed the CPSU's orthodoxy, because after all the CPSU was the strongest and most successful communist party. Over time, the CPGB lost all credibility with its idealistic young supporters because it failed to denounce Soviet brutality. In particular, the party's membership plummeted after it offered only mild criticisms of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.
Savi's comments are helpful. Significantly coercive leadership styles are to be found in GAFCON but they do not speak for all under the umbrella of this movement. They never do. Before the last Lambeth conference an Indian bishop and his wife stayed with us who had just come from the GAFCON conference. It was clear that for this Godly couple working in highly isolated contexts it was the sheer warmth and fellowship they received that meant most to them. Indeed they hardly seemed aware of the political agenda of GAFCON at all. Rather than demonising the whole movement we ways of enabling a wider conversation and resourcing biblical reflection within it.
If the next Lambeth Conference is likely to be anything similar to the one over which Dr. George Carey presided then it would be a blessing were it not to take place.
So now we know where we stand. Although I share Fr David's view that we don't want a re-run of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, this just strengthens the perception that Justin Welby is too keen to demonstrate his support the moral conservatism of the majority of African church leaders - and GAFCON in particular. This, along with other compromises with conservative factions in the church, have not only intensified anti-religious sentiments generally, but multiplied the numbers of those who feel alienated from the national church. We are not here to serve our own internal agenda; but the people of this nation(especially those who have no-where else to go). Contrast all this with the approach of an African Church leader like Desmond Tutu, who has had to suffer discrimination, oppression and injustice - and remained rooted with his people even in the face of death threats. Meanwhile, the march of sectarianism continues its inexorable tread among the leadership of the C of E. Kyrie eleison!
David Runcorn models perfectly the response one gets from the "many good and ordinary people" I mention above, in his description of his visitor.
So much of this exchange is old news and concepts being revisited - which has a purpose I suppose in recalling backgrounds and context. A call for an Anglican Congress [like Toronto] including laity, and all orders of clergy was being circulated during and after my staff officer experience at Lambeth '98.
I believe that Rowan may have given it some consideration, too. The proposed location was suggested to be Cape Town, SA. I rather suspect that what Carey and his followers did to the carefully developed commission paper on homosexuality which was chaired by the then Abp of Cape Town, put a damper on it. At the time it was posited as a companion event to the Lambeth conferences. Sounded like a good idea to me.
David Runcorn is right when he speaks of GAFCON having resources, energy and vision which we need. However my problem is with the nature of that vision. It is not mine and not one that I can accept without doing serious damage to my own integrity. I am not sure if David Runcorn is implying that we have to accept that vision or if we simply have to have a vision of Christianity to which we are committed. Perhaps he would clarify what point he is making.
David, I agree there are some people at grassroots level in GAFCON who are open to dialogue but their primates do not make it easy, given the narrowness and authoritarianism of the movement. I do not think any of the Asian churches are represented on the GAFCON primates' council, even if some individual clergy attended GAFCON, though South East Asia, Myanmar and Indian Ocean primates are involved with the (slightly less extreme) Global South. In fact I suspect that, if GAFCON ruled supreme, several Anglican churches in Asia would also end up getting slung out or splitting over requirements for supposed doctrinal orthodoxy.
"Perhaps TEC can organise their own international gathering where the liberal voice of Anglicanism can be heard?"
All of TEC's church wide meetings include 17 countries. We're already international before inviting anyone else. Amazing that with so many "Global South" countries in our church we are still arriving at the idea that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is inclusive and respectful to all. (Arriving, because we haven't fully arrived, it may not be possible for humans…).
I'm still puzzled at the reluctance to go ahead with Lambeth 2018.
If the extremists stay away, then everyone else might find it a very pleasant gathering.
The fear may be that the guest list might prove the schism.... But that's a bad fear to give in to, for a number of reasons.
First, cancelling a regular conference due to fear that some invitees might not show up gives power to the extremists. Why should they control the Communion's schedule? Why is Canterbury giving in to them? The rest of the Communion probably wants the conference to take place in 2018; shouldn't Canterbury respect that desire?
Second, the schism is happening anyway. Might as well use it to prove who is pulling out, and why. The Church of England might actually benefit from their absence, in that it would free the CofE to minister to its own culture and society, without worry about implications in Sydney or Nairobi.
Third, just in terms of social behaviour, does it make sense for the host to cancel a regular event, because some guests declare that they won't come if others are invited? Wouldn't the Christian response to such behaviour be to send the invitations out regardless?
Lastly, I am glad that the Presiding Bishop has broached the topic and forced the discussion into the open, where it belongs. Canterbury may be the host, but Canterbury is not the Communion, and hosts have duties too.
If Canterbury lacks the guts to go ahead, then perhaps TEC should schedule something instead. A logical venue might be Chicago.
Thank you Daniel and Savi
No I am certainly not saying we accept the GAFCON vision (though I need persuading this movement is as internally united and sustainable as is assumed here). My piece for Pilling was a small attempt to engage with and offer another way of understanding the issue of LGBT to the conservative corner of that tradition.
I was partly reacting to the just 'throw them out' /let them go, and what reads as a tendency to label all evangelicalism as extremist. It may help to say this is the tradition in which I met Christ and within much of my formation in service and ministry took place. This has long become part of a wider picture for me but I am still grateful, I still care about its flourishing and faithfulness - and mourn deeply over its blind spots and capacity to wound.
In this context I wonder at Paul's attitude while in prison, powerless to protect a vulnerable church from the influence of those he had deep concerns about. Yet he can write, 'Some proclaim Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill. These proclaim Christ out of love, knowing that I have been put here for the defence of the gospel; the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but intending to increase my suffering in my imprisonment. What does it matter? Just this, that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice.' Phil 1.16ff
"a tendency to label all evangelicalism as extremist."
I don't think that's what people are saying.
However, I have no problem with the statement that people who call for the murder of people on the basis of their sexuality are extremist. And I would argue that anyone who thinks we should negotiate and debate with those that would murder our brothers and sisters is an extremist too. "Well, if we agree to spurn and exclude gay people, will you settle for not killing them?"
And that's why a Lambeth conference cannot work. Influential parts of GAFCON will start from an opening position that the murder of homosexuals is the ideal position, but they'll settle for life imprisonment as a compromise. The CofE cannot possibly accept, or negotiate, with that position: you can't have a debate which says "well, life imprisonment might be a bit much, so can we settle on ten to twenty, hard labour?" And even if the CofE found itself agreeing to some bland statement about homosexuality being a less than ideal state, or something, it will be seized on by GAFCON as being succour for them.
You can't negotiate with murderers. You just can't.
"I'm still puzzled at the reluctance to go ahead with Lambeth 2018."
Could that be true because we have no solid information about what the ABC actually intends on this matter?
I do not think that GAFCON is at all representative of evangelicalism, David, though there are some mainstream evangelicals who have been swept along by it. I see it as the most extreme manifestation of a highly political movement which has developed over the past couple of decades or so, founded on a contempt for leaders of provinces which take a different stance (e.g. South Africa, Brazil), a confidence in their own intellectual infallibility in interpreting the Bible and a willingness to commit or condone violence to increase their power, directed especially at vulnerable minorities.
Of course not all the bishops, let alone parish clergy and laity, in those provinces think that way. However primates in Uganda and Nigeria encourage jailing LGBT people and help to whip up murderous hatred by making statements which are palpably untrue, e.g. Archbishop Nicholas Okoh's claim in 2010 that Nigeria was at risk from an 'invading army of homosexuality, lesbianism and bisexual lifestyle... The Church in the West had vowed to use their money to spread the homosexual lifestyle in African societies and Churches; after all Africa is poor. They are pursuing this agenda vigorously and what is more, they now have the support of the United Nations.' This seems far removed from proclaiming Christ.
Having just heard the ABC on the Sunday programme it is quite clear that there won't be a Lambeth in 2018. Whether there is another one at some time later is very unclear in his mind.
Kurt, having missed the last Anglican Congress in Toronto (25 years before I was born), I would welcome a shot at another!
"I was partly reacting to the just 'throw them out' /let them go, and what reads as a tendency to label all evangelicalism as extremist."
Well ... whatever _did_ happen to "open evangelicalism"? Those who pioneered that label now seem to be bending over backward to prove they can be just as antigay as the non-"open." Perhaps you should be engaging your evangelical colleagues rather than taking issue with those calling a spade a spade?
The BBC Sunday Programme has Welby saying:
1. the next Lambeth Conference is to be one collegially planned, with an agenda/character the Primates agree and not one imposed;
2. He has not finished his meeting individually with them, but this is on schedule;
3. When he is finished, there will be a meeting of the primates regarding the character of LC;
4. It is unlikely this can all move forward quickly enough for 2018.
"When he is finished, there will be a meeting of the primates regarding the character of LC."
Good luck with that.
The Global South will be demanding a way to "discipline" those "wayward" provinces like TEC and Canada.
If they don't get that, then they might not even show up to the meeting about the meeting.
Yes, if one is serious about the length and breadth of the AC, it will be very difficult indeed. At least he has not said he is not going this route.
I can equally imagine the character of the next LC being such that progressive provinces stay away. So I don't think it is so simple as declaring one or another bloc unlikely to attend. That is for the next years to clarify.
"The Global South will be demanding a way to "discipline" those "wayward" provinces like TEC and Canada."
This "Global South" stereotype plays into the hands of the intolerant folks who want you to think that it is a solid block of hate. It is not so solid. TEC is composed of a number of Global South nations. There's also the recent statement of tolerance by 30 African scholars and theologians.
I suggest that we not paint them all with the same brush. It's unfair and untrue. It's easy enough to say GAFCON.
The folks who like to be called 'evangelical' rarely seem to mention Jesus and salvation - strange that.
But on and on about lgbt.
And today the USA has been moved on by their Supreme Court. Their SC having thrown out 11 appeals against marriage equality ! Some states have already started marriage folk.
So about 30 states are now doing it.
when the anglican communion catches up with all this ... it'll be rather on the late side.
If the Lambeth Conference never met again it would be too soon !
It is thoroughly discredited by its own behaviour, and beyond redemption.
"I can equally imagine the character of the next LC being such that progressive provinces stay away."
What is more likely is that the progressive provinces will attend, but will feel themselves free to ignore whatever resolutions denounce LGBT people and clergy.
The Anglican Communion is a family of churches, nothing more. Independent churches cannot be ordered around. And especially after the dismal failure of the so-called Covenant, they won't be.
“The next Lambeth Conference needs to be called collegially by the primates, together with real ownership of the agenda and a real sense of what we’re trying to do with such a large effort, such cost. So when we meet as primates, which I hope we will do…with reasonable notice after the end of [the visits to all the primates], then we will decide together on the details.”
“We just need to be very, very clear about this. There is no Anglican Pope. Decisions are made collectively and collegially and I am absolutely committed to not pre-empting what the primates choose to do.”
There is no Anglican curia either.
Just because a "decision" is made collectively by Anglican primates doesn't mean that it has any binding effect on any particular province.
"What is more likely is that the progressive provinces will attend, but will feel themselves free to ignore whatever resolutions denounce LGBT people and clergy."
The governance of the relationship between the CofE and the wider Anglican community is not something that the man in the street has reason to understand.
But a few months of the News at Ten having a little slot for some headbanger from GAFCON to get a couple of soundbites over will make the CofE look complicit.
I know that elements in the CofE think that there is an untapped river of violent homophobia in the UK, and if only every parish church preached a gospel of exclusion and hatred the pews would be full to bursting, but it simply isn't true. Being associated with violent homophobes is a losing strategy, and months of it would be utter poison to the CofE's mission in England. Anything which links GAFCON and the CofE in the mind of the general public is bad news for the church's future.
"And today the USA has been moved on by their Supreme Court. Their SC having thrown out 11 appeals against marriage equality ! Some states have already started marriage folk."
The Sacrament of Marriage is offered in a bunch of those states, but not all. Our bishop is in reflection and we are all hoping for Good News soon. We plan to marry by the end of the year.
I wish I could invite you all to our wedding!!!!!
I'm not personally upset at the thought of a delayed Lambeth. After all, until World War II Lambeth fell in the 10's (1900, 1910, 1920, etc).
There is, of course, another concern about Lambeth, perhaps largely unspoken outside our own national church gatherings (for TEC, at least): that is that the expenses for Third World bishops are paid by First World churches. More specifically, they're paid by individual dioceses of the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Church of England, etc. Between our own financial concerns, and the thought that we might be paying for attendance of folks who in their own places call us apostate, it can be a hard sell.
I realize that GAFCON is funded the same way; but for Lambeth those expenses are distributed differently. We pay for the attendance based on need, not on likeminded-ness. I think it's worthwhile. But, as I said, for many in the US (and probably for many elsewhere) at the diocese level it can be a hard sell.