The Lambeth Conference
The Lambeth Conference begins on July 16th and runs through August 3rd. The conference, which takes place once every ten years, brings together Anglican bishops from around the world.
The name "Lambeth" refers to the palace in which the Archbishop of Canterbury lives. The spiritual leader of the Communion, the Archbishop issues the invitations to the conference and presides at its session.
You can stay up to the minute by checking out the web site: www. episcopal-life.org
Some interesting web blogs you might check out include:
http://www.canterburytalesfromthefringe.blogspot.com/The Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, Diocese of New Hampshire,
http://web.mac.com/pwhalon/Bp_Pierre_Site/Blog/Blog.html The Rt. Rev. Pierre Whalon, Churches in Europe,
http://ecubishop.wordpress.com/The Rt. Rev. Christopher Epting, TEC Ecumenical Officer,
http://bishopmarc.vox.com/The Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus, Bishop of California,
http://lambeth2008.blogspot.com/ The Rt. Rev. Porter Taylor, Diocese of Western North Carolina,
The Episcopal Church site:
Here are two articles on the Conference. Please be sure to keep the conference and the attendees as well as the entire Anglican Communion in your prayers.
Seeing Jesus in the 2008 Lambeth Conference By Ian T. Douglas
In his 2005 Advent Letter, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said: "The main focus I long to see at this [Lambeth] Conference is the better equipping of bishops to fulfill their task as agents and enablers of mission, as co-workers with God's mission in Jesus Christ."
For the last five years the Lambeth Conference Design Group, ably assisted by staff in the Anglican Communion Office in London, has been dedicated to designing a new kind of Lambeth Conference with the twin goals of equipping bishops as leaders in God's mission and thus strengthening the mutually responsible and interdependent life of the Anglican Communion in service to God's mission.
From the very early stages of our planning for the 2008 Lambeth Conference, the Design Group was encouraged by Archbishop Williams to do a new thing. It was clear that the 2008 Lambeth Conference should not be focused on reports that nobody reads and resolutions that nobody pays attention to unless they are used to divide us one from another. It should provide space where deep and meaningful conversations across differences could be engendered in a prayerful manner.
At the very outset we decided that small Bible Study groups made up of eight bishops from radically different contexts would be the key community for the conference. Bible Study groups will thus meet every day of the conference and in these small groups the bishops will encounter God and each other in the study of the Gospel of John, and in the sharing of their own life stories. The hope and expectation for these groups is to create a safe, face-to-face Christian community where honest and deep conversation can develop.
The second significant new design element for the 2008 Lambeth Conference will be larger Indaba Groups made up of five Bible Study groups for a total of 40 bishops meeting together. Indaba is a Zulu word from South Africa that means "gathering for purposeful discussion in community." In these groups, the bishops will engage common issues before the Anglican Communion.
The issues that all Indaba Groups will consider include: Anglican identity; evangelism; social justice and the Millennium Development Goals; ecumenism; safeguarding the integrity of creation; multi-faith issues; gender inequalities and vio¬¨lence; biblical authority; human sexuality; and the Anglican covenant and "Windsor processes." On occasion these issues will be introduced by major international speakers in evening presentations.
The third major programmatic aspect will be afternoon Self-Select Sessions where bishops are free to choose among dozens of different workshops, panels, lectures, and other hands-on learning opportunities. These are designed to equip the bishops as leaders in God's mission and will be loosely organized around the 10 topics/issues of the Indaba Groups.
These three daily programmatic aspects of the conference will be surrounded by regular daily worship and prayer beginning with morning Eucharist and continuing with midday and evening prayer. In addition, to set the whole conference in a context of deep prayer and presence before God, the first three days of the conference will be a retreat held in Canterbury Cathedral where Archbishop Williams will accompany the bishops in a reflection on the nature of God's mission and the role of the bishop as a disciple of and leader in God‚Äôs mission.
The 2008 Lambeth Conference is thus taking a decidedly more missiological, conversational, and prayerful approach to engaging difficult issues in the Anglican Communion. Those who are looking to Lambeth as an arbitrator of all things Anglican or final decision point on matters such as the proposed Anglican covenant will not be pleased with the new design of the Lambeth Conference. There is no plan for large plenary sessions where resolutions are debated and voted upon us¬¨ing parliamentary procedures.
Let us hope and pray that the bishops gathered in Canterbury this July and August will indeed see Jesus anew as they engage more directly with each other. And let us pray that in seeing Jesus anew in each other the bishops will be better equipped to serve God's mission in the world and thus strengthen the Anglican Communion.
The Rev. Ian T. Douglas is Angus Dun Professor of World Christianity at Episcopal Divinity School and a member of the Lambeth Conference Design Group.
Lambeth Conference Will Focus on Equiping Bishops for Mission.
By Matthew Davies
(This article was edited to change the placement of the information about Bishop Robinson of New Hampshire. The change is in italics.)
When the bishops of the Anglican Communion convene in Canterbury this summer for the 2008 Lambeth Conference, they will find a gathering differing in many ways from its predecessors and one that is intended to strengthen their sense of a shared Anglican identity and help to equip them for their roles as leaders in mission.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has invited more than 800 bishops to attend the July 16 - August 3 conference on the campus of the University of Kent in southeast England. New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson, an openly gay man ordained a bishop in 2003, has not been invited to attend the conference as an official participant, but he plans to visit Canterbury. A separate conference for the bishops' spouses will run concurrently.
Unlike previous conferences, the 2008 gathering will include fewer plenary sessions, opting instead for smaller study groups where the bishops can interact on a more personal level.
The conference will begin with three retreat days "in which we can spend time together in quiet and begin to direct our minds towards the central issues of faith," said Williams.
The main conference days are split into four sections: group Bible study, expanded group meetings, self-selecting groups and optional "fringe" events. Bible study groups will include about eight bishops and will be followed by expanded groups of about 40 bishops.
For the self-selecting groups, the bishops may choose between various workshops, seminars or discussions that will focus on a particular conference topic. Fringe events will provide an opportunity for entertainment and fellowship through film screenings, theater productions, dinners and discussions.
According to the Lambeth Conference Design Group, which has met regularly since February 2004 in preparation for the 2008 gathering, the bishops will address issues such as the Millennium Development Goals, HIV/AIDS, ethical/green living, Anglican identity and the Anglican covenant, the Listening Process, and ecumenical and interfaith relations.
The conference "will not resemble a parliamentary debating chamber with a string of resolutions but will aim to provide time and space for spiritual reflection, learning, sharing and discerning," the group notes.
Not A Lawmaking Body
The gathering, which has been convened roughly once every 10 years since 1867, "has never been a lawmaking body in the strict sense, and it wasn't designed to be one," Williams said at the January launch of the conference program. "Every local Anglican province around the world has its own independent system of church law, and there is no supreme court,"
During a pre-conference hospitality initiative, every bishop and spouse attending the Lambeth Conference and Spouses Conference will enjoy the hospitality of an English, Scottish or Welsh diocese.
Citing the work of Anglican organizations such as the Mothers' Union and the partnership relations between bishops and dioceses from different parts of the communion, Williams said, "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 program of pre-Lambeth hospitality which is being offered by local churches here in the United Kingdom will help to consolidate these relationships for the future, in ways that will respect the integrity of all."
Some bishops and primates have indicated their intention to boycott the Lambeth Conference. But Williams has said that, "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."
New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson, an openly gay man ordained a bishop in 2003, has not been invited to attend the conference as an official participant, but he plans to visit Canterbury.
Expressing his gratitude for the hard work of the Design Group and Sue Parks, Lambeth Conference manager, Williams described the program as "unusually varied and original" and said it would provide "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."
The Rev. Ian Douglas, a member of the design group and Angus Dun professor of world Christianity at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said, "Conversation across differences for the sake of building up the body of Christ and strengthening the Anglican Communion is exactly what we need right now."
Matthew Davies is editor of Episcopal Life Online and Episcopal Life Mediacorrespondent for the Anglican Communion.