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Welby expects ‘energy’ and new faces at Primates’ Meeting

21 September 2017


Gathering: a close-up of the exterior of the main city entrance to the grounds of Canterbury Cathedral

Gathering: a close-up of the exterior of the main city entrance to the grounds of Canterbury Cathedral

THE attendance of more than a dozen new Primates at the Primates’ Meeting in Canterbury next month will bring “fresh energy” but also “tough questions”, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

In a video posted on Wednesday by the Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS) — which is run by the Anglican Communion Office, which is organising the meeting — Archbishop Welby said that 16 Primates would attend who were not at the gathering in 2016 (News, 22 January 2016). Among them will be the new Primate of Sudan, the Most Revd Ezekiel Kumir Kond (News, 4 August).

They will meet from 2 to 6 October.

“There will be a whole lot of fresh energy and fresh excitement — and, no doubt, some tough questions, which will come from them having not been there before. I think that’s going to be fabulous,” Archbishop Welby said.

The Archbishop acknowledged that “possibly as many as six” Primates would not be there, “either through health or because they have chosen not to be at the moment”. The Nigerian Primate, the Most Revd Nicholas Okoh, has already announced that he will not attend, because of concerns that “consequences” announced for the Episcopal Church in 2016 have not been followed through (News, 8 September).

Archbishop Welby said that the task group set up after the 2016 gathering of Primates — to “look at the issues that were dividing us, obviously particularly the issue of human sexuality” — would present its preliminary report at the meeting.

The agenda will be confirmed by the Primates at the start of the meeting. But the ACNS report said that it was “expected to include sessions on mission and evangelism; reconciliation and peace-building; climate change and environment; and migration and human trafficking”.

Archbishop Welby emphasised that issues other than sexuality would be on the table, as they were in 2016.

“At our last meeting, despite all the stresses and strains, there was an energy in the room when we talked about evangelism; there was an energy in the room when we talked about the environment, and climate change, about war and peace, about refugees and human trafficking.

”These were things that caught people in their hearts and in their minds. And I remember coming out of one of the meetings last time and saying to my wife: ‘This is why the Communion exists, to bring together that energy and be those who change the world around us.’

“And those are subjects we’ll be talking about this time as well. We are going to discuss climate change; we are going to discuss refugees. Primates will come from Provinces torn apart by conflict, or from Provinces where there is persecution of Christians, from Provinces which are devastated by rising waters, from Provinces where economic crisis and hardship is a reality of everyday life, from Provinces where their numbers are growing, from Provinces where they’re shrinking, from Provinces where all is together, and others where the stresses and strains are deeply felt.

”And whatever it is, no one is going to be there triumphant. We will all be those who come as disciples of Jesus Christ, to worship him, to meet with him, to listen to the Spirit of God, and to comfort, console, encourage, and celebrate with one another. And I am so looking forward to that. All the great issues of the world will be brought in the presence of God, together with the Primates in each of our hearts and in sorrow and in joy.”

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