Thinking Anglicans

Update on the Lambeth Conference

Updated on 16 April

Two letters in The Times yesterday,

,

This blog by Marcus Green such a pain includes links to several comments on social media.

Previous report on this topic is here.

Today, Kaya Burgess in The Times (£) reports that Welby says gay bishop spouse ban was ‘painful’ but necessary.

…Speaking on a tour of the diocese of Peterborough, the archbishop said that he had met university bosses to discuss their concerns. He told The Times: “Well over 90 per cent of the Anglican communion are conservative on issues of sexuality. I’ve invited all the bishops, including those in same-sex marriages. And I had to consider . . . getting as many people as possible there and excluding as few as possible. It’s a lose-lose situation.”

He added: “I had to take what is a really difficult and painful decision to say, in order for the conference to be as representative as possible and get all the bishops there and not have the risk of some provinces not coming because they felt I was pushing the envelope too far, that I couldn’t ask all the spouses.”

He described the situation as “just the reality of such a widespread communion . I hope we’ll get to the point where we are able disagree well and that’s while affirming the doctrine of marriage in its traditional Christian form.”

Some earlier reports:

Catherine Pepinster RNS reported on the meeting between the University of Kent and the Conference organisers: Lodging for spouses becomes Anglicans’ latest battleground over LGBT clergy

…Last week the university met with communion officials to raise its  “significant ethical concerns” after university Vice Chancellor Karen Cox and council chair David Warren said they had “serious issues,” calling the no-same-sex-spouses policy “contrary to the values” of the university.

Both sides are refusing to divulge what the outcome of the meeting was, but the university has now pledged to make accommodation available to spouses who want to be based in Canterbury with their partners for the duration of the Lambeth Conference — a move that will focus attention even more intensely on the Anglican Communion’s policy of exclusion.

Anglican Communion spokesman Gavin Drake said the Lambeth Conference would go ahead at Kent University in 2020, and he added: “We are not speaking about this issue at all. What Kent does is up to them.”

Mary Frances Schjonberg  had a comprehensive catch-up on events up to 2 April: ENS Refusal to invite bishops’ same-sex spouses to Lambeth 2020 draws ire in Britain.

And the latest as of 12 April on registrations from ACNS: Lambeth Conference 2020: Over 500 bishops in 39 Anglican Communion Churches register:

Organisers of next year’s Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops have announced that 502 bishops and 382 spouses have so far registered for the decennial event, with the numbers rising each day. Registrations to date come from 39 of the Anglican Communion’s 45 member Provinces and Extra Provincial Churches. “In comparison to the 2008 event when registrations had not started at this point, this is a most encouraging position to be in”, Lambeth Conference Chief Executive Phil George said…

And also: The man on a mission to make the Lambeth Conference happen.

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Jeremy
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Jeremy

What therefore God hath joined together, let not Archbishops put asunder.

James Byron
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James Byron

So Anglicans can “disagree well” so long as they accept that equal marriage is dead. To everyone still supporting the ceaseless can-kicking processes, what more evidence do you need that Welby will never support a change in teaching, and therefore change must be forced through from the grassroots?

Paul Waddington
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Paul Waddington

It is interesting that, according to the Archbishop, the consideration was: “getting as many people there as possible”. This would suggest that the whole exercise is driven by considerations of public relations, and little to do with moral or doctrinal issues. That comes as no surprise!

Cynthia Katsarelis
Guest

“Well over 90 percent of the Anglican communion are conservative on issues of sexuality.” This is a classic example of gaslighting and it is infuriating. Did he ask them? How can he account for the ACC Zambia meeting’s unwillingness to take up the primate’s homophobic agenda?

Two bishops, their spouses, and their children *had* to be publicly excluded, ostracized, humiliated to maintain Justin’s agenda. What gospel is that? ++Michael Curry says that if it’s not about love, then it’s not about God. That’s the Gospel.

Kate
Guest
Kate

You are blessed to have Michael as presiding bishop. “++Michael Curry says that if it’s not about love, then it’s not about God. That’s the Gospel.” That’s it in a nutshell. And those who can’t love everyone shouldn’t be ministers.

Laurence Cunnington
Guest
Laurence Cunnington

‘Painful’ – for whom? – certainly not Welby himself. What he actually did was make a political decision that didn’t affect him at all but which he knew would cause pain to others.

Kate
Guest
Kate

He described the situation as “just the reality of such a widespread communion . I hope we’ll get to the point where we are able disagree well and that’s while affirming the doctrine of marriage in its traditional Christian form.”

And there you have it. We can disagree so long as we do it nicely and affirm the traditional, exclusive doctrine of marriage so Welby can be BFF with homophobes.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

The thing is, same-sex married bishops will be attending, which is one reason why a handful of the most conservative provinces (inferring from ACO numbers) are planning on staying away.
So the question arises: Did anyone threaten that he would not attend, if same-sex spouses were invited?
If yes, who? Perhaps a Member of Parliament should ask this question.
If no, then what is this disinvitation actually accomplishing, from the Welby POV?
Aside from disastrous publicity that will only intensify over the next year?

Colin Coward
Guest

Archbishop Justin says that 90 per cent of the Anglican Communion are conservative on issues of sexuality. The implication, unsaid, is that they are “traditional” in the acceptance of a Biblical view of homosexuality that is homophobic. There is no research to confirm Archbishop Justin’s assertion – so why does he make this claim? What is his motive? Self-justification that deciding not to invite the spouses of two bishops is a justifiable sacrifice for getting the maximum number to attend Lambeth 2020, even if the huge majority are homophobic. If – IF 90 per cent of the Christian members of… Read more »

Barry
Guest
Barry

Colin, thank you for your words, which sum up so much of the present heart-breaking situation in the Anglican communion. There are many devoted priests at work, and many priests in training, who know that the behaviour of the institutional Church is a betrayal of the love of God preached and lived by Our Lord. The problem is that they know that being allowed to minister faithfully to their people comes with the official condition attached, “don’t rock the boat”. The bishops themselves are caught up in this attitude of mind. The result is a climate of anxiety in which… Read more »

Colin Coward
Guest

Thank you for responding to my comment, Barry. I’ve taken time to process my feelings before responding. I am sure there is a climate of anxiety that affects many people. I have never forgotten this one wise comment from my psychotherapy supervisor – that every client presenting themselves for therapy will have anxieties. I’m not sure that the “don’t rock the boat” condition attached to being approved to minister in the Church of England is a sufficient reason to explain why people tolerate the systemic frustration of our witness to the love of God – the unconditional love of God.… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Painful but necessary? Sort of like, ‘this will hurt me more than it hurts you’?
“Help us Lord, who claim to be your special people. … Teach us our responsibilities to you …and to all the people out there. Save us from the sin of loving religion instead of you.” – Malcolm Boyd (Are You Running With Me Jesus?)

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“Sort of like, ‘this will hurt me more than it hurts you’?”
Indeed.
Often a “self-justification” for an abuser. And of course false.
I don’t believe Welby found these disinvitations “painful” at all.
He was called a “thug” when he was installed. Here is some of that thuggishness on global display.

Judith Maltby
Guest
Judith Maltby

Since this decision is based on the view that marriage is a life long union between a man and a woman, surely the ABC and the ACO also know a) how many bishops are divorced and remarried, b) married to someone who is divorced, or indeed, c) both ( d) perhaps several times!). In the interests of fairness, may we have that information as well and an explanation as to why those spouses have been invited, given the premise on which the exclusion of others is based?

Susannah Clark
Guest

The decision to exclude gay and lesbian spouses is based on expediency. It is regarded as expedient in order to draw the largest possible number of attendees to the conference. Clearly it is an arbitrary decision, not based on theological justification, because it is incongruent to exclude spouses of gay bishops but not the gay bishops themselves, when both categories are equally committed to the gay relationship. Therefore, your argument is subsidiary, Judith, because no theological logic is in operation here. The decision is about appeasement, and expediency, and the gay and lesbian spouses are the expedient sacrifice and collateral… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

Another thought I have: could we not ask the University of Kent – as a demonstration of its decent values – to let us hold a Convocation on the campus of the University at the same time as the Lambeth Conference, in direct repudiation of this discrimination? There are many groups that could be invited, including the new group ‘Equal’, and ‘Inclusive Church’, and ‘One Body One Faith’, and participants at ‘Thinking Anglicans’, and ‘Modern Church’, and this could be extended to the involvement of all those who frequently sign the letters calling for inclusion… and to invitees of gay… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Guest
Simon Dawson

This is a good question Judith, and very pertinent. But rather than asking it here, could we not have a letter writing campaign, writing to the Archbishop himself, to ask him that very same question?

Christina Beardsley
Guest
Christina Beardsley

Well, we are in Holy Week, and he is a ‘high priest’ – to me the rationale is pure Caiaphas: ‘it is better that two spouses not be invited than the whole conference be destroyed’.

Tobias Stanislas Haller
Guest

Just so, Christina. Rene Girard did not invent the concept of scapegoating, he merely pointed it out: groups form social cohesion by stigmatizing and alienating smaller groups, or individuals, sometimes from among their own.

Kate
Guest
Kate

It grates, doesn’t it? Because if Caiaphas was political expediency, Christ followed the path of righteousness no matter the cost, as did many of His disciples.

Judith Maltby
Guest
Judith Maltby

Well, someone could ask the question at General Synod in July, could they not?

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

I appreciate Thinking Anglicans’ addendum of 16 April of two letters to The Times.
I don’t know the limitations of the website moderators, but would it be possible to make those two letters in The Times larger?
My eyes are no longer what they used to be, and the print is “just on the verge” of being readable, which makes it frustrating to (not) see what the writers conveyed.

John Roch
Guest
John Roch

Hold ‘ctrl and press ‘+’ to enlarge all the ext on the page, or just right click on the image and then choose ‘view image’ to view each separately and then resize.

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

John,
I tried a couple of times pressing “ctrl” and scrolling the mouse, and it didn’t work, but I just tried it again and it worked just fine. With all due respect to William Cowper, computers work in mysterious ways …
So I don’t know what was happening before, but thanks for your reply.

Helen King
Guest
Helen King

I’m not convinced that John Bond’s “don’t invite any spouses at all” is a fair solution. My limited understanding of the Lambeth Conference is that in many parts of the AC spouses have roles in the church (e.g. leading the Mothers’ Union) and work alongside the Bishop. And that’s why, to quote the Lambeth 2020 website FAQs, “For the first time the Lambeth Conference will offer a joint programme to bishops and spouses. It is anticipated that bishops and spouses will be in joint session for the majority of the conference including for the daily Bible expositions, presentations on major… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

No, that doesn’t work. Where in the Communion do bishops’ spouses _not_ have some role in the church?
Ministry of all believers, anyone?
Besides, spouses support each other, regardless of what their official or volunteer titles might be. Ask a clergy spouse, and I think you will find that most, by necessity, play some role in the church.
So this argument is a distraction—unless the first-ever joint program with spouses is merely part of the excuse for Welby’s discriminatory disinvitations. Certainly makes me wonder!

Kate
Guest
Kate

Jeremy you aren’t suggesting, I hope, that the Archbishop of Canterbury invited spouses so that he could say to liberals that he has invited bishops in same sex marriages, and say to traditionakists that he wasn’t inviting same sex spouses. That would be political shenanigans rather a theologically reasoned approach. C’est incroyable

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

It may be incroyable, but it sure rings true.
At least two ABCs, in my opinion, have been quite willing to engage in such incroyableness to keep conservative bishops’ and patriarchs’ copes unruffled, regardless of what liberals or the GLBT faithful think.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

That is exactly what I am suggesting. Using a few other people as means, rather than ends.
It’s not splitting the baby. Cantuar is splitting the betrothed.

Kate
Guest
Kate

“A struggle for equality is not about achieving rights for people like me, it is about achieving the recognition of the full made-in-the-image-of-God humanity of all people. If I can’t fight another’s fight, I have no business being on this battle front. ” – Marcus Green

That’s the theology. Not in academic terms, but Jesus didn’t preach in academic terms either.