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Lambeth Conference will issue no resolutions, says Welby. Instead there will be ‘Calls’

10 June 2022

Lambeth Conference

Archbishop Welby speaks in a video message posted on the Lambeth Conference website

Archbishop Welby speaks in a video message posted on the Lambeth Conference website

BISHOPS attending the forthcoming Lambeth Conference will not pass resolutions, but will instead make short statements known as “Lambeth Calls”, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said. This is to reflect better the fact that the Conference is “not there to order people about”.

In a video message posted on the Lambeth Conference website on Thursday, Archbishop Welby says that bishops at the Conference, which meets for 12 days in Canterbury, starting on 26 July, will seek to “discern what God is saying to the Church, but to offer that discernment . . . to the whole Church, to every single one of the Provinces. It’s not there to order people about.”

One of the problems with resolutions passed by previous Lambeth Conferences, he says, was that, “when the Lambeth Conference resolves something, it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, and that is a bit confusing. It means it just gets offered to the whole Anglican Communion, who are called to consider what it means.”

To aid clarity, therefore, the 2022 Lambeth Conference will make decisions in the form of “Calls”, he says. “They will do what they say they are: they will call on the Anglican Communion . . . to pray and to think and reflect, and for each Province to decide on its response.”

After the Conference has ended, he says, bishops will continue for two years to discuss the “calls” via remote communication methods. The bishops have already been conducting conversations for 18 months in the run-up to the Conference (News, 11 June 2021), he says, which makes it “essentially almost a three-and-a-half-year Conference”.

There will be, at most, a dozen “Calls” issued at the Lambeth Conference, the Archbishop says, “each one will be carefully structured to talk about scripture, about the tradition of the Church, and what the bishops assembled feel to be the way that God is calling them”.

Issues on which “calls” will be issued will include evangelism, mission, climate change, and persecution. There will also be “calls” issued on “some of the contentious subjects”, he says, “but actually not with the aim of a dramatic change to the Church’s teaching, but on bringing us into deeper love for one another and understanding how God is calling us to be God’s Church for God’s world.”

Archbishop Welby says: “The Bible says test the spirits, to see if they are of God. So, if the bishops think something is right, it doesn’t mean, in Anglican thinking, that it’s automatically right — it means it is something to be tested and thought about and received by the whole Communion.”

Archbishop Welby describes this as a “hugely exciting development in the life of the Communion”.

He continues: “It’s humble: it says, ‘We offer this to you as what we think God is calling us to.’ It respects different cultures; it says, although each Province is autonomous and therefore needs to make up its own mind, they’re also interdependent. And so we listen together to what God is calling us to do.”

Read more on this story in our Leader comment

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