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About the Lambeth Conference

The Lambeth Conference is a gathering of all active bishops of member churches of the Anglican Communion. It takes place approximately every ten years at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury and enables senior Anglican leaders to meet, pray together, discuss common concerns and, in prayer, to seek a common mind. The Lambeth Conference 2020 runs from 23 July to 2 August.

The Conference vision

The theme for 2020 is “God’s Church for God’s World: walking, listening and witnessing together”. In his letter of invitation to the bishops and their spouses, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “It is my fervent hope and prayer that this will be a significant moment in the history of our extraordinary global family as we witness to our shared love in Jesus Christ, attentive to the call of the Spirit, and prayerfully seek God’s direction for an Anglican Communion equipped for the 21st century.

“We will listen to God through one another,” he added. “We will seek God’s wisdom to find ways to walk together build one another up as leaders and proclaim the God News of Jesus Christ to a world that needs it more than ever.”

For the first time there will be a joint programme. Spouses of bishops will attend combined sessions at key points in the overall programme. There will also be separate sessions on the specific responsibilities of the ministry for bishops and spouses.

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Did you know?

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Freed slave is first African bishop

A lone African stands out in a sea of white faces in the official photograph of Lambeth 1888. Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther, Missionary Bishop of the Niger Territory was rescued from slavery aged 12 and educated in Sierra Leone, by the Church Missionary Society. He was consecrated bishop in 1864 by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Charles Longley. He received a doctorate from Oxford. A brilliant linguist he translated the Bible into Yoruba.

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Why ‘Anglican’?

‘Anglican’ derives from the Latin Anglicana ecclesia (literally ‘the English Church’). The term is found in the Magna Carta (1215) but was in use centuries before. The Venerable Bede (672–735), the first English historian, referred to it. Originally it simply differentiated the English church from those in continental Europe. Christianity existed in England by the second century. St Alban was England’s first Christian martyr in around 209 AD.

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Why gaiters?

A century ago everyday clothing for Church of England bishops, deans and archdeacons included gaiters. Originally these were practical accessories, made of black cotton, wool, or silk, and buttoned up the sides, reaching to just below the knee. Senior clergy often travelled horseback and gaiters protected their legs from chafing. Later they became more decorative and were still being worn on festive occasions into the 1970s.