On July 26, Bishop Kevin D. Nichols will be joining other bishops within the Anglican Communion at the Fifteenth Lambeth Conference in Canterbury. This gathering which occurs every 10 years provides a space for bishops to confer and express their collegiality, as well as their common witness to the world.
This year’s theme is “God’s Church for God’s World: walking, listening and witnessing together.” It is a reflection of the Church being called into a living hope because of the Word of a living God, a suffering Church being called to walk with joy in a suffering world, and most importantly a Church being called into a holy witness.
It is within this context that participating bishops within the communion will discern deeply the call of God to the Church and to the world.
Of great note is that there will not be any resolutions created during this gathering. Instead, Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury has decided to adopt a method called ‘Lambeth Calls’ to help shape discussions and decisions.
As stated in the pamphlet, History and Purpose: A Guide to the Lambeth Calls Process at the 2022 Lambeth Conference,
“The reason the Archbishop has made this change to move from resolution to Call is that the word resolution implies legal decision which is binding and that goes beyond the powers of the conference. A ‘Call’ represents what the so- called ‘resolutions’ did up to the conference of 1998. A call is a decision of the conference which comes as an appeal to each church of the Communion to consider carefully, and hopefully to follow it and respond to it in its own situation.”
This new trajectory will hopefully enable a deeper faithfulness to God, advance the ministry of the communion, enable wider participation in the calls by churches and communities around the world, and impact the present and future witness of the Church.
The various themes to be explored in creating these ‘Calls’ include,
- Mission and Evangelism
- Safe Church
- Environment and Sustainable Development
- Christian Unity
- Inter-faith relations
- Anglican Identity
- Human Dignity/Identity
Each of these themes, will allow the bishops to learn together and share experiences that will lead to a documented summary on what the Christian Church has always taught about these various topics, what each bishop wants to say on these topics today, and finally to a development of a series of ‘calls,’ for future witness to the Church and to the world.
Once this document is constructed, it is with hope that each “Call,” along with a process by which the outcomes can be received and implemented will be made public to church synods and other bodies within the communion.
As the Body of Christ, the Church is a living, breathing hope that is called to witness to those near us and to those in the far reaches of the world. It is this hope, rooted in God’s call to the Church that will lay the foundation to this important work.
Written by: the Rev. Canon Barbara Seward