*** DEBUG END ***

Angela Tilby: Lambeth ’98’s gift to Living in Love and Faith

22 July 2022

Anglican World/Harriet Long

Archbishop Carey presides at the eucharist in Canterbury Cathedral at the 1998 Lambeth Conference

Archbishop Carey presides at the eucharist in Canterbury Cathedral at the 1998 Lambeth Conference

LAMBETH 1.10 is back on the agenda for Lambeth 2022 (News, 15 July). This was the famous resolution on marriage and same-sex relationships which was passed at Lambeth 1998, to much rejoicing from the global South and disquiet from liberal progressives.

This was the only Lambeth Conference I have ever attended. I was there in a media role, commissioned by the Anglican Consultative Council to make a video of the proceedings. It was a hot summer, like this one, and I was glad to have had the forethought to buy a small fridge, which was kept full of tonic and ice (the gin was kept elsewhere) to help chosen guests to recover at the end of the day, and shed themselves of some useful gossip and speculation.

My doughty production team, recruited from Westcott House ordinands, got wind of the fact that the Archbishop of Canterbury was trying to head off a conservative but relatively mild motion on human sexuality, prepared under the chairmanship of the Archbishop of York. Archbishop Carey had little sympathy at the time with homosexuality, and was, anyway, convinced that nothing other than a resounding restatement of tradition would be acceptable.

On the day of the debate, there were prayer meetings all over the Canterbury campus, an invasion of journalists, radio, and television, and colourful protests from the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement. Richard Kirker went head to head with an African bishop who appeared to be trying to exorcise him. Liberal-minded Church of England bishops speculated that it might be good for their post-imperialist credentials to be seen “not to win” this particular debate.

We crowded into the debating chamber, where it very quickly became obvious that the conservative case would win. But there were amendments. Most were intended to reinforce the victory by further references to biblical standards.

But, in the middle of it all, a lone figure stood up and proposed an amendment that included the words: “We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons. . .”, and went on to emphasise the importance of pastoral care. This was Michael Bourke, the Bishop of Wolverhampton. It was clear from the atmosphere in the chamber that some thought even this was too much of a concession, but it got through. So great had been the victory of the conservatives over the progressives that most thought this small concession to be of no consequence.

I think that, in the long term, Bishop Bourke’s amendment has proved significant. After all, the whole Living in Love and Faith process is predicated on patient listening. You cannot easily “other” those to whom you listen. The issue is not solved, and perhaps never will be this side of heaven. But I am grateful for his intervention. It would have been so much easier to have sat tight and said nothing.

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Letters to the editor

Letters for publication should be sent to letters@churchtimes.co.uk.

Letters should be exclusive to the Church Times, and include a full postal address. Your name and address will appear below your letter unless requested otherwise.

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Awards Ceremony: 6 September 2024

Read more details about the awards


Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available



Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website


ViSIt our Events page for upcoming and past events 

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)