Bishops engaging together – Preparing for a future-focused conference

  • February 13, 2020

Bishops engaging together – Preparing for a future-focused conference

  • February 13, 2020

January’s Primates’ Meeting in Jordan brought together Primates, Presiding Bishops and Moderators from the Anglican Communion for discussion, reflection and prayer. The agenda included an update on the development of the Lambeth Conference programme, chaired by Design Group Chair, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town.

The Lambeth Conference is a once-a-decade event for bishops and spouses from the Anglican Communion. It is convened by The Archbishop of Canterbury. Held in Canterbury this July, the overarching theme of the Lambeth Conference 2020 is ‘God’s Church for God’s World: Walking, Listening and Witnessing Together’. The conference enables bishops to join together for prayer, Bible Study and fellowship, and to explore key topics relevant to the life of the Anglican Communion and world affairs.

One of the historic features of the Lambeth Conference is for bishops of the Anglican Communion to confer on matters of shared concern, bringing a diverse range of cultural and ministry perspectives. For this reason, a special communication or invitation process is being developed for the Lambeth Conference in 2020, so that bishops can engage with conference topics before and during the event. At the conclusion of the Lambeth Conference, the aspiration is for the bishops’ shared engagement to culminate in a series of invitations to the wider Anglican Communion, championing what it might mean to be ‘God’s Church for God’s World’ in the decade ahead.

The invitation process is being shaped by members of the Lambeth Conference Design group in consultation with The Archbishop of Canterbury.

The process was also shared at the January’s Primates’ Meeting in Jordan which brought together Primates, Presiding Bishops and Moderators from the Anglican Communion for discussion, reflection and prayer.

The whole process will build on the conference motif of ‘Walking, Listening and Witnessing Together’ and create space for prayer, preparation, reflection, dialogue and future planning.

Bishops engaging together– preparatory work before the conference.

Bishops attending the Lambeth Conference will be asked to undertake some preparatory work ahead of the event. This will include reading a collection of short documents on different topics relevant to the main conference theme, the Bible Commentary on the New Testament letter of 1 Peter and an online survey. Bishops will also be encouraged to consult with young people in their dioceses, to bring their future-oriented perspectives on what it means to be ‘God’s Church for God’s World’.

An enabling document is being compiled to support this process.

Bishops engaging together – the ‘invitation process’ during the conference

During the Conference itself, bishops will be invited to engage with core topics in a variety of ways, building on the preparatory work. This will include keynote plenary sessions; Bible studies, small group work and sharing feedback through assistive technology designed to gather responses and opinions in a large venue setting.

Responding to the ‘invitations’ – the ongoing process

The Lambeth Conference provides a unique opportunity for bishops to provide fresh impetus for Anglicans to ‘walk, listen and witness together’ in their shared vocation to be ‘God’s Church for God’s world’.

The aim of the invitation process is to generate beneficial and lasting outcomes from the conference, conveyed through ‘invitations’ to the wider Anglican Communion.Sent from the bishops to the Anglican Communion, the invitations could take a variety of forms designed to commend initiatives, encourage action or renew commitment.

They would have the twin purpose of expressing and mobilising shared commitment to ways the Anglican Communion might collectively respond to pressing challenges and opportunities. For example, ‘We invite the churches to join in action on mission and evangelism; we invite the churches to consider how to grow disciples; we invite the world respond to continue in their response to climate change.’ Dioceses, parishes and individuals around the world – would then consider how they might best respond to the invitations and take them forwards in the decade ahead.

Further details will be shared with bishops attending the Lambeth Conference in the months ahead.