THE Lambeth Conference has been further delayed — to 2022 — owing to the coronavirus, the Archbishop of Canterbury announced on Wednesday.
The 15th conference, originally due to have been held in Canterbury later this month, was rescheduled to 2021 after worldwide lockdowns were introduced in March (News, 27 March).
In a video to the more than 1100 bishops and spouses of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Welby announced that the conference would not now take place until the summer of 2022. A wider programme was being planned which would be delivered virtually and through other meetings before and afterwards, he said.
A statement on the Lambeth Conference website explained: “As with most large-scale events and conferences of this nature — planning for events in such an unstable climate is difficult. As an international gathering (the Lambeth Conference invites bishops and spouses from more than165 countries) there are a significant number of uncertainties that make preparations for a 2021 meeting challenging.”
Archbishop Welby said: “I am overwhelmed by the way that Anglicans around the world have been facing up to the huge social needs created by this crisis. So many people have suffered from the pandemic, economically, physically through illness and in many other ways and even have lost those close to them.
“It’s exposed the divisions and inequalities of the world, with the poor and the vulnerable and the marginalised faring the worst. We’ve been isolated from one another by the lockdown and restriction. And yet we’ve managed to keep in contact and, somehow, I sense that the Spirit of God has drawn us closer together. As we look around the world, we see how important it is that the Anglican Communion walks together as we seek to be good news.”
The chief executive of the Lambeth Conference, Phil George, said: “Rescheduling the event is, of course, disappointing but absolutely necessary and the right thing to do. The conference planning team will continue to work harder than ever to deliver an engaging and resourceful conference programme both in the lead up to and beyond 2022.
“Covid-19 has changed our world forever. It’s vital that we gain a fresh vision of what it is to be ‘God’s Church for God’s World’; and discern God’s calling for the Communion in the decade ahead. I look forward to the role that the Lambeth Conference will play on that journey.”