July 8

“The first movement to the full symphony” – Bishops share their reflections from the first round of Bishops’ Conversations

Lambeth Conference Bishops’ Conversations began this week (6th and 8th July 2021).

Around 500 bishops from around the Anglican Communion have registered to take part in these important discussions – that form part of the ‘listening phase’ of the conference. The full event is due to meet in the British summer of 2022.

The first session was called ‘Called Together’ and focused on ‘Gathering’. Bishops studied a passage from 1 Peter and also discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic had been affecting their communities.

Some of the bishops involved in the first sessions have shared what they enjoyed about the meetings.

The Most Revd Stephen Cottrell
The Archbishop of York, Church of England

Meeting Bishops from across the world and stepping inside the shoes of other people’s experience, is always humbling, always moving, and always expands my understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ and to discover that we are one humanity, children of a loving God in whose image we have been made in all our glorious diversity. This morning was no exception. Bishops from Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and Korea, and even one from England, spent two hours reading the Scriptures together, praying together and sharing experiences of how we had seen God at work, particularly through the enormous challenges and suffering of the coronavirus pandemic. When we meet like this, we discover what it means to be the Catholic and apostolic church of Jesus Christ. We don’t always agree. We have many different perspectives. We see some things differently. But as we grow in understanding, we also grow in love. And as we grow in love, we grow in unity. These conversations aren’t just the orchestra tuning up before the full symphony of the Lambeth conference takes place in Canterbury next year. They are the first movement. We are learning how to be God’s Church for God’s world. The words of this message remain the same. They are about the unconditional love of God shown us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But in a complex, diverse and changing world, we are learning to sing a few new tunes. And we are learning them from each other.

Bishop Eleanor Sanderson

Diocese of Wellington, The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand

I am very thankful for the coordination of the Lambeth Bishop’s Conversations and the way that they are framed around key global challenges that require a global church to unite in understanding, in response and in the fellowship of Christ. As we shared from our different contexts, I was deeply encouraged and humbled to know of the co-ordinated work of our Anglican family supporting those most vulnerable in the Covid-19 Pandemic. We know that the Pandemic highlights and exacerbates inequality. Our conversations together increased my awareness in a way that will shape my prayers and will also inform how I can seek to partner with Jesus in mobilising the people within my own Diocese to work against such inequality. These honest conversations were painfully real and yet also framed in the shared hope and joy of faith-filled lives with God. It is the joy of the Lord which was palpable in our fellowship together that has stayed with me since the first conversation and with which I look forward to our next meeting.

Bishop Renta Nishihara - Bishop to the Diocese of Chubu, The Anglican Church of Japan

The first Bishops' Conversation was very beneficial. We were able to meet face to face with bishops from all over the world, call each other by our first names, and learn about each other's situation, even though we were online. As for COVID-19, I realized that the situation differs from region to region. It was a little disappointing that some of the bishops were absent. I hope they will be able to attend next conversation.

The Right Revd Peter Stuart
Diocese of Newcastle, The Anglican Church of Australia

It was like a gathering of old and new friends who moved easily into conversation. We quickly learnt that we share a deep bond in speaking about the way of Jesus and bear a similar weight in the ministry of being a bishop. The conversations were humbling as we heard of the harsh political environments experienced by some of those present as well the impact that many had experienced with the COVID19 pandemic. We moved comfortably to open and generous prayer for each other. I am looking forward to deepening our bonds over the coming months and, all being well, meeting in person in 2022.

The Right Revd Graham Usher
Bishop of Norwich, Church of England

I’m excited that through conversation, study and prayer – as well as our experience of sharing the Gospel in our communities – that I will learn, be encouraged and challenged, and so come to see more of the face of Christ. That image of Christ is illuminated for me by my sisters and brothers around the Anglican Communion and I am so grateful for the spiritual richness that I discover, often from places of material poverty and those on the frontline of the impact of covid and climate change.

Bishops Conversations will continue to meet during July – December 2021. Meeting via Zoom, bishops meet in groups of around 20 – and will continue with their group for the duration of the six-month programme. Through Bible Study and facilitated discussion, the bishops will explore a different theme each time they meet.

The groups are mixed, enabling bishops to meet with their peers from different countries of the Anglican Communion, and learn more from one another’s ministries.

Next month’s session will explore Proclaiming Good News.

To watch films about Bishops Conversations visit:

https://www.facebook.com/watch/101746068453508/924554088396791

Bishops’ Conversations are open to all active Bishops of the Anglican Communion. To register email: info@lambethconference.org


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