The full text of the Presiding Bishop’s message follows.
I’m here at Canterbury Cathedral, the mother church of the Anglican Communion, where the primates of the Communion have met, assembled and gathered by the archbishop of Canterbury. We just concluded what was a meaningful, a beautiful, indeed, a holy gathering of the primates of our Communion. We concluded our time together washing each other’s feet, following the teaching and the example of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
This wasn’t just a meeting. This was not just a gathering. This was, as a friend of mine often says, a holy convocation. We gathered in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and we did our work together in agreement and disagreement, following and in his spirit. Early on, we began with a retreat led by the archbishop of Canterbury with meditations and long periods of silence where we prayed for the spirit of God to dwell within us and lead us.
Soon thereafter, we entered into a time of exploring matters of great concern to the church, internal matters, preparation for Lambeth 2020 and the gathering of the bishops of our Communion, discussion of how that would unfold and some of the preliminary plans.
We continued for a day discussing, at some length and with some depth and genuine honesty and Christian charity, the decision of our brothers and sisters in the Scottish Episcopal Church to make provision for members of the same sex to receive the blessing of marriage.
We then continued and entered into a discussion for the next several days of the ways the church can follow Jesus Christ into the world as his witnesses. We discussed at great length the reality and the need for Anglicans throughout the world to really live as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, following in his footsteps and living his teachings and in his spirit. We discussed the practicalities of helping our church become more disciple-focused and genuinely to take seriously the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations. That then led us into a long and extended conversation about evangelism in and by the Anglican Communion in the world, inviting others into that relationship with Christ, sharing our stories and our journeys with our God.
We then moved on to discuss the environment in which we live – God’s created world – and to hear the stories of the impact of climate change on the lives of fellow Anglicans and [all] human beings throughout the world, especially in the developing world. We heard stories of food shortages. We heard stories of growing seasons shortened. We heard stories of unmitigated weather that is now a danger and [is] preventing people from having the kind of abundant life that is intended for us all.
In the midst of this time, the shootings in Las Vegas happened and I must tell you that my fellow primates gathered around and prayed. They gathered around me and gathered around you. We prayed and wrote a statement, and longed for the day when we in our country will not see deaths by guns.
Then, we continued engaged the world even more deeply. We engaged the issues of migration and immigration, human trafficking and heard stories from throughout the Anglican Communion about how the church is actually trying to make God’s world humane and habitable for all of God’s children.
We went on and discussed so many things that have to do with the very life of the world. We spent most of our time, to be very honest, not talking about internal things in the church but, things external where the church can bring her ministry of following Jesus to bear.
This was a gathering where, in the words of the late Archbishop William Temple, we really did reflect the church being the church. William Temple once said the church is the only society that does not exist for benefit of its own members; it exists for the sake of the world.
And, it may well be that, as the primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East and Cyprus concluded his presentation of interfaith relations, it may be that this prayer will be our prayer and a prayer for us all:
May the babe of Bethlehem be yours to tend. May the boy of Nazareth be yours for friend. May the man of Galilee his healing hand send. May the Christ of Calvary his courage lend. May the Risen Lord his promise send and his holy angels defend you to the end.
From Canterbury Cathedral, God bless you. God keep you. May God hold us all in those almighty hands of love.