Archbishop of Canterbury cancels Lambeth Conference over gay clergy row
Plans for the Anglican Communion’s next Lambeth Conference have reportedly been scrapped amid fears of a boycott from African churches, over gay clergy.
The next meeting of Anglican bishops from around the world, which takes place every 10 years, was expected to take place in 2018, but now faces cancellation or delay for the first time in its history.
The last meeting in 2008 faced boycotts from African bishops over openly gay members attending – and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby fears provoking another row.
Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, who heads the Episcopal Church in the US, said: “[The Archbishop] has been very clear that he is not going to call a Lambeth [Conference] until he is reasonably certain that the vast majority of bishops would attend. It needs to be preceded by a primates meeting at which a vast majority of primates are present.
“As he continues his visits around the communion to those primates it’s unlikely that he will call such a meeting at all until at least a year from now or probably 18 months from now. Therefore I think we are looking at 2019, more likely 2020, before a Lambeth Conference.”
However, a spokesperson for Archbishop Welby denied a decision had been made with regard to the conference, telling Christian Today he was still “looking at all options”.
Andrew Symes of the conservative-leaning Anglican Mainstream group added: “My understanding is that no decision has been made about the next Lambeth, but clearly Archbishop Justin would want such a gathering to a) have a clear purpose b) have the support of the majority of Bishops of the Anglican Communion, and especially a good representation from the Global South, and c) be affordable.
“The Archbishop is working hard to bring this about with his marathon schedule of personal visits around the Provinces. But I think that as long as headlines about the Church of England indicate a continuing liberal trajectory, and TEC and the Church of Canada continue to exert their influence over ‘indaba’ initiatives such as the facilitated conversations, Global South church leaders will see no point in committing resources to attending another Lambeth conference when the issues that caused such division.”