The Hospitality Programme (The Big Hello) for the Lambeth Conference will be replaced by a new welcome programme held in Canterbury
A decision has been taken to discontinue plans to run the official hospitality programme (also known as the Big Hello) for the Lambeth Conference in its current form. Instead, a new approach to providing a ‘Welcome to Canterbury’ programme for all Anglican bishops, will be held at The University of Kent.
The Big Hello was originally designed to host delegates traveling from overseas for the Lambeth Conference in UK dioceses. The programme would provide time for rest, preparation, prayer and fellowship with the diocesan hosts, in church and community accommodation, ahead of the event in Canterbury.
With the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, planning for the Big Hello was put on hold and the Lambeth Conference was rescheduled to 2022. Since that time, the conference organisers have been monitoring health and travel advice; adapting event logistics, to enable the full participation of people making the journey to the UK in 2022. This has led to a decision not to run the Big Hello in its original format. Dioceses involved in planning for the Big hello were consulted in reaching this decision. The conference teams express sincere appreciation for all the work and time committed to the Big Hello programme up to this point by volunteers in dioceses around the UK and those planning to take part from overseas.
Running ahead of the conference with an earlier arrival date of Tuesday 26th July, the new ‘Welcome to Canterbury’ hospitality programme will incorporate elements of relaxation, gathering informally, and an organised retreat with spiritual preparation at Canterbury Cathedral. It is for all bishops and spouses taking part in the Lambeth Conference.
Delegates will also have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with many of their ‘Bishops’ Conversations’ groups, with whom they have been meeting online for months in advance of the conference.
The recommendation is that conference attendees now make plans to travel directly to the University of Kent in Canterbury.
Those conference delegates preparing to attend the Lambeth Conference who would have been taking part in the Big Hello, will receive information from the Lambeth Conference about travel plans and the new welcome programme.
The Archbishop of Canterbury said:
“I would like to thank every church and dioceses in the UK that have offered time and support to the Lambeth Conference through the Big Hello programme to date. I would also like to thank all our sisters and brothers around the world who were planning take part. All your efforts have been immense and are greatly valued.
“I warmly encourage our conference delegates to join us for our new ‘Welcome to Canterbury’ hospitality programme that is being organised at the University of Kent from 26th July.
“Whether you are traveling a long or short distance to be at the conference, arriving together a day earlier on 26th July for our extended welcome and registration programme will provide a vital opportunity for everyone to get to know one another, have time for prayer and to prepare for the event.
“We remain ever hopeful about the wonderful opportunity the conference presents for gathering and exploring what it means to be God’s Church for God’s World in 2022.”
Phil George, CEO of the Lambeth Conference Company said:
“We would like to express sincere thanks to all the people that have been involved in planning for the Big Hello up until this point. We are looking forward to welcoming delegates directly to Canterbury, for our new hospitality programme at the University of Kent.
“The Lambeth Conference team will be sharing regular updates to our conference delegates about travel to the conference during 2022 and will work hard to support people as they make their travel plans and visa applications. We will also deliver some parts of the event online for those who may find travel impossible later this year.”
New dates to note:
26th July – Arrivals and registration – this is a new arrival date than originally advertised.
27-29th July – Registration will be followed by a new hospitality programme, which will incorporate elements of relaxation, gathering informally, and an organised retreat with spiritual preparation at Canterbury Cathedral.
Following this, the programme continues and ends on the evening of 7 August.
8 August – Departures.
Read our guide for conference delegates on travel to the conference and hospitality here
Watch a message from The Archbishop of Canterbury, looking ahead to the Lambeth Conference in 2022 here