What does it mean to be salt and light look like in your setting? Bishops from around the world share their experiences.
On the 5th and 7th October, the fourth round of Lambeth Conference Bishop’s Conversations will begin. The session focus Called out of darkness into light’. Based on 1 Peter 2: 9-12 bishops will explore ‘Co-creating the kingdom: being salt and light in the world.’ Some bishops from around the world have shared some of their reflections in a short film or article that accompanies the session.
The Most Revd Melter Jiki Tais – Southeast Asia
Bishop Melter believes the effects of the pandemic have given the church new opportunities to be salt and light share God’s love in practical ways with all those who have been suffering. “I think we need to build good bridges of relationships with our fellow men, with our neighbours, and especially during this time, with the Covid 19 pandemic, where our movement is very limited. One of the things that we as the diocese, and I myself, am also involved with is social care – providing food supplies to those families who are badly affected by this pandemic. We’re hoping that through these acts of love, that the Lord in His own grace and His own perfect timing, will touch the hearts of people who received those food supplies.” “People have also been losing their jobs. In fact, the numbers of suicide cases in Malaysia, since last year, is very alarming, very worrying. Almost three or four plus, people commit suicide every day, because they have lost their job and have bank loans to pay. And in fact, now literally in our country, people are putting up the white flags, because they don’t have anything to eat.”
The Rt Revd Ric Thorpe – United Kingdom
Bishop Ric Thorpe is part of the Diocese of London in the Church of England. He’s been a bishop for six years in part of the city called Islington, where his focus has been on seeing new churches develop and become established, both in London and across the country. For Bishop Ric, growing new churches is very much about being salt and light in the world. “To be salt in a place, to influence that place, to bring healing, to bring purification, to bring transformation, to bring light, to be the light of the world in a place, is to bring the light of the gospel. To bring light in the darkness, is to transform a space from darkness to light and from the presence of evil to something which is the presence of God and of goodness and transformation. So, in this context, church planting is the necessity of Christians and Christian communities to be in those places of darkness, to be in those places where there is great suffering or a great sense of hopelessness, with people feeling far from God.” According to the Bishop, seeing a church take off in places where people either feel far from God or that the church doesn’t care, is like being the salt of the earth for those communities. He said as they deployed people and resources into new areas, where the church hadn’t been reaching, they have seen God transforming lives. “We have begun to see that salt and light having a huge impact on the areas that God has called us to minister to,” he said.
Paulo Ueti – Brazil
Brazilian theologian and biblical scholar, Paulo Ueti, talks about his threefold vision for Christians being salt and light in today’s world. Paulo, who is based in the Diocese of Brasilia Brazil, works for the Anglican Communion Office in theological education and also works with the Anglican Alliance – the Communion’s development, relief and advocacy agency. “I think we’ve been called to be salt and light in the world, not to the church and not within the church only. So that means we also are called to listen carefully to the signs of the times, to be attentive to the context that we live in, because we are a communion – a worldwide family.” Summing up his vision for the church being effective in the world he said, “Being salt and light is to act as a parable, to act as a prophet, and to act as a midwife in this chaotic, but also helpful world.”
The Most Revd Josiah Idowu Fearon – General Secretary of the Anglican Communion
A former Nigerian bishop and Archbishop, Josiah Idowu-Fearon, is the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion. His role, which he has held for the past six years, gives him the opportunity to visit various parts of the Communion gathering a broad picture of life in the Anglican Communion around the world.
“Salt is salt, whether it is in England, or in Finland or wherever, salt is salt, light is light. If one lives in a predominantly religious society, which is most of the global south, very many people take their religions very seriously. To be salt means you’ve got to stand out… You’re called to challenge your society and to prevent your society from getting corrupted and that is not easy.”
The Rt Revd Mary Gibson – Montreal, Canada
The Rt Revd Mary Gibson has been the Bishop of the Diocese of Montreal for six years, after being ordained as a deacon in the diocese in 1981. “How are we called to be salt and light? And how do we do that? I think the first thing is to be sure that we are staying connected to the source of light and salt, that if we have lost our saltiness and we’ve lost our light that sort of shows. I think people can tell when I’ve been skimping on my prayer life. And when I haven’t been soaking in the Great Salt vat of God’s love. So when I’m full, I think I’m a much better witness. And I think we’re called to be witnesses whether we’re full or empty, because even when we feel empty, God is still full. But it certainly helps if we begin our day, with some time soaking in God’s power and love and reconnecting so that we know who’s we are and what the calling is. If we simply think that it’s because of our own intelligence, our own training our own position or any of that kind of thing that we get to be salt and light. We actually never know when we are sharing the light with somebody who needs it or putting salt in a situation and that needs seasoning or healing or whatever salt is called to do at that particular time.”
Find out more about the October theme
To view all of the articles and film for October visit our Bishops’ Conversations journey page here.
With thanks to our contributors:
- The Rt Revd Ric Thorpe is the Bishop of Islington in the United Kingdom, Responsible for the Diocese of London’s church planting and church growth work.
- The Most Revd Melter Jiki Tais was installed as the sixth Archbishop and Primate of the Province of the Anglican Church in Southeast Asia last year. He is also the Bishop of the Diocese of Sabah in Malaysia.
- Paulo Ueti is a theologian and biblical scholar based in the Diocese of Brasilia Brazil. He works for the Anglican Communion Office in theological education and also works with the Anglican Alliance – the Communion’s development, relief and advocacy agency.
- The Most Reverend Archbishop Josiah Idowu Fearon is the Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion Office.