Following the end of the Lambeth Conference, Bishops John and Martin have sent a letter to all clergy and Readers. It is published here so it can be read by everyone in our whole diocese.
We write at the conclusion of two weeks spent at the Lambeth Conference which was an intense and moving experience. The opportunity to spend so long with bishops from all over the world, many of whom are ministering in enormously difficult circumstances, was a great privilege. Their stories were deeply affecting and enabled us to enter into the ‘bearing of one another’s burdens’ much more fully. We rejoiced in vibrant worship, profound sharing in Bible studies on 1 Peter, and deep listening. We parted as firm friends in Christ and return to our home dioceses with a commitment to a series of Lambeth Calls on Mission and Evangelism, Safe Church, Reconciliation, Human Dignity and Climate Justice, Hospitality (Christian Unity and Interfaith relationships), and Discipleship.
Our discussion on the Call on the environment and sustainable development was the most powerful. There were many bishops at the conference whose lands are being absolutely devastated by the climate emergency. We pledged to lobby and act together to do everything we can to avert total disaster.
We are sad that the impression given by the media was that we spent most of the time discussing same sex relations and passing judgement on our fellow Christians. This was absolutely not the case. Please don’t believe all the headlines you may have seen or heard. Many do not reflect the reality of what was experienced at the Conference. We encourage you to read both Archbishop Justin’s letter and his address during the session on Human Dignity. Links to both of these can be found at the end of this letter.
The reality is that for part of an afternoon we discussed a ‘call on human dignity’ within our small groups, with whom we had already spent much time studying the Bible. We are acutely aware, though, of the hurt and upset that has been generated as a result of what has been reported and are truly sorry about this. We state unequivocally and wholeheartedly that we affirm and give thanks for the gift that LGBTQI+ people are to the Church and the world.
The wide-ranging ‘call on human dignity’, which was provisionally agreed, called for action on global poverty, sustainable development and prejudice (including homophobia). It acknowledged that, while the majority of provinces do not permit same-sex relations, others, after careful theological reflection, bless and welcome same-sex partnerships and/or marriage. The ‘call’ made clear that, as Bishops in the Anglican Communion, we remain committed to listening and walking together to the maximum possible degree, despite our deep disagreements on these issues. Much pressure was put upon the Archbishop of Canterbury (mostly from people outside the Conference) to take punitive action against provinces which offer same-sex unions, but he said very clearly: ‘I neither have, nor do I seek, the authority to discipline or exclude a church of the Anglican Communion. I will not do so.’
You may have seen the Bishop of Monmouth’s article in the Church Times. She wrote: ‘We can all go home feeling that we are bound together with something stronger than our context, our experience, our views and opinions, our reading of scripture. We are held together in the love of Christ, and we have to honour the fact that we are working in massively different contexts.’
As you know, in the Church of England we are committed to a process of open listening and reflection through the ‘Living in Love and Faith’ process. The College of Bishops will be meeting several times to discuss this as we move to the decision-making phase this autumn and we shall write to you about that in due course.
This letter brings with it our very good wishes and the hope that you will be able to enjoy some rest and refreshment this summer.
Bishop John & Bishop Martin.
- This is the letter the Archbishop of Canterbury issued in which he acknowledged the fact that Lambeth 1.10 has not been rescinded. We were not asked to reaffirm it. Read the letter.
- The letter should be read in conjunction with what he said to us at the conference, which we found very powerful. Read Archbishop Justin's address.
- Read more about the Lambeth calls.