Planning for the 15th Lambeth Conference is gathering pace, as global representatives from the Anglican Communion met 4-7 June for the latest Design Group meeting of this significant event.
Chaired by the Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Reverend Thabo Makgoba, the Design Group shapes the programme of the Lambeth Conference, in consultation with The Archbishop of Canterbury.
Comprised of archbishops, bishops, theologians and other lay members, the Design Group represents a diversity of culture and experience from around the Anglican Communion.
A significant focus of the planning on this occasion was the worship, music and Bible study elements of the programme. Additional guests and contributors joined the planning process, including the conference’s music Director Felix Yeung, the Chaplaincy Team led by Bishop Nigel Stock and Professor Jenn Strawbridge who chairs the theology group designing the Bible Studies on 1 Peter.
Alongside this, special consideration was given to how the conference programme can elevate and address a range of significant world issues, including climate change, peace and reconciliation, economic justice, mission and youth priorities.
The agenda for the conference is being developed following consultation from regional Primates’ Meetings during 2018 and 2019.
With bishops and their spouses invited from over 165 countries and 40 provinces and five extra provincial areas, the Design Group is working hard to ensure the worship, music and biblical focus of the event celebrates the diversity of the Communion.
Award-winning conductor Felix Yeung visited the Design Group meeting from Hong Kong, where he combines his office as Director of Music at St John’s Cathedral and Provincial Music Director of th Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (the Anglican Church in Hong Kong). Felix will be overseeing the music progamme for the conference, a role he also played at the Anglican Consultative Council’s meeting in Hong Kong in May 2019.
Felix is relishing the opportunity of ensuring that different modes of worship and cultural approaches from around the communion are expressed within the programme.
About expressing the Communion’s diversity of music at The Lambeth Conference Felix said: ‘It will need a very broad paint brush to include all the treasure we’ve got. I’m sure that at the Lambeth Conference we will try to include everything. Contemporary worship, traditional hymns, gospel, Taizé, Iona chants. It will be an exciting and inspiring experience.’
On his hopes for the conference Felix said: ‘Worship is a central point of being Anglican… Music will be a central part of the worship to hold everyone together to sing together in one voice. It is really exciting to serve in this capacity.’
Professor Jenn Strawbridge was in attendance to update the group on the latest in the planning for the conference Bible Study programme on 1 Peter. This material is being developed by an international group of New Testament scholars from Anglican and ecumenical networks around the world. Instigated at The St Augustine Seminar which gathered in November 2018, the ongoing work of the group will help inform the theological foundations for the conference.
Alongside the strong focus on Bible study and prayer, a large part of the conference programme is being designed to address global issues.
From climate change, gender justice, economic justice, education, peace and reconciliation or youth priorities, every bishop and spouse attending the conference represent countries, communities and congregations that are directly impacted by many of these issues.
The Lambeth Conference 2020 will be an important moment for these international leaders to dialogue and make some common commitments on how the Anglican Communion can mobilise to respond.
The Design Group is working hard to ensure a range of perspectives and experiences are being shared through the diverse seminar programme and plenary sessions.
On his excitement for the theme “God’s church for God’s world”, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba shared the need to look beyond the stained glass windows in to the needs of the world. He said:
‘It’s a theme that reminds us that the church does not exist for itself, the church does not exist alone. It exists by mission. God is busy reconciling the world to himself. We are invited in to that space. So the theme rightfully locates us as an Anglican church to say – what are we going to do about a world that does not trust? What are we going to do about the youth – creating space for today’s generation and tomorrow’s church? What are we going to do about our disagreements? It’s not only about the church… God is always all the time sending us outside the church window, where God’s world is really longing for his love, comfort and embrace.’
Archbishop Thabo also said: ‘We as Anglicans want to say to the world, we are there as bridge builders, there for peace, to address social needs, and in our brokenness to look at growth and rebuild trust in the world.’
‘There is an immense capacity of the Communion to have an influence around the globe, from issues of climate change, modern slavery, how we live together as societies.
We have a huge amount to say about who we are as Anglicans and the impact we can have on our communities. I hope those good news stories come out of the Conference.’
‘It is such a privilege to work with a wonderful and diverse group of people helping plan for The Lambeth Conference 2020. The programme is coming together well and we are approaching our 1000th registration! I am excited that next year’s event will be an amazing gathering and a time of great blessing for all.’
Convened by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference is a significant event in the life of Anglican Communion – one of the largest Christian communities in the world, representing tens of millions of members.
Bringing together active bishops and their spouses from over 165 countries, the event meets every ten years and influences the direction of the Anglican Communion for the next decade.
The Lambeth Conference 2020 will be held in Canterbury in July and August 2020. Its theme is “God’s Church for God’s World.”