The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has sent a message encouragement to “walk together and be good news” to the bishops and spouses of the Anglican Communion today – in the month that would have seen the fifteenth Lambeth Conference hosted in Canterbury.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this decennial meeting of Anglican bishops and spouses had been rescheduled to the British summer of 2021. Since then – after ongoing monitoring of the pandemic and consultation with bishops and primates around the world – a new decision has been reached to further reschedule the conference to the British summer of 2022.
Archbishop Justin’s words were shared in a special video message to over 1100 bishops and spouses of the Anglican Communion, who would have been making the journey to the Canterbury this summer.
You can watch the video here.
In the video, the Archbishop has also announced that alongside the postponed physical conference meeting in 2022 in Canterbury, a wider programme will be developed before and after the event, delivered virtually and through other meetings.
Speaking of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, he has encouraged the bishops and spouses of Anglican churches in their pastoral role of supporting churches and communities around the world. He said:
“I am overwhelmed by the way that Anglicans around the world have been facing up to the huge social needs created by this crisis. So many people have suffered from the pandemic, economically, physically through illness and in many other ways and even have lost those close to them.
“It’s exposed the divisions and inequalities of the world with the poor and the vulnerable and the marginalised faring the worst. We’ve been isolated from one another by the lockdown and restriction. And yet we’ve managed to keep in contact and somehow I sense that the Spirit of God has drawn us closer together.
“As we look around the world, we see how important it is that the Anglican Communion walks together as we seek to be good news.”
Referencing the book of 1 Peter – the biblical foundation supporting the theme of the conference – the Archbishop has also said: “The first letter of Peter reminds us to love each other deeply, to offer hospitality, to use the gifts we have – I am aware that God has given us new means of being the Communion. In the next two years we will explore those and provide mutual support for each other.”
The Lambeth Conference will now be planned and prepared for the British summer of 2022, along with a supporting content and programme of activity relevant to the Lambeth Conference and wider Anglican audiences. Phil George, CEO of the Lambeth Conference Company said:
“The Lambeth Conference provides such an important opportunity for bishops and spouses of the worldwide Anglican Communion to meet, pray, listen, reflect and shape the Anglican Communion for the decade ahead.
“Rescheduling the event is of course disappointing but absolutely necessary and the right thing to do. The conference planning team will continue to work harder than ever to deliver an engaging and resourceful conference programme both in the lead up to and beyond 2022.
“COVID-19 has changed our world forever. It’s vital that we gain a fresh vision of what it is to be ‘God’s Church for God’s World’; and discern God’s calling for the Communion in the decade ahead. I look forward to the role that the Lambeth Conference will play on that journey.”