THE Archbishop of Canterbury announced at the Lambeth Conference on Sunday afternoon that using electronic devices to record bishops’ response to the Lambeth “Calls” was being discontinued for the rest of the conference.
The announcement was met with general applause.
The first news of that bishops would be asked to record their individual choices — widely interpreted as voting — came when the Lambeth Calls were published on 18 July, just as bishops were beginning to travel to Canterbury. The idea was that bishops would record their response to a series of calls — propositions that stood in place of resolutions.
Initially, bishops were to be given two options: “This Call speaks for me. I add my voice to it and commit myself to take the action I can to implement it”: or “This Call requires further discernment. I commit my voice to the ongoing process.”
After widespread alarm when it was discovered that one of the draft calls included a a reaffirmation of Lambeth Resolution 1.10 from 1998 on the subject of sexuality (News, 22 July), a third option was added: “This Call does not speak for me. I do not add my voice to this Call” (News, 29 July).
This only added to the concern, since there was then the prospect of a split vote among those who were unhappy with the reaffirmation of a statement that marriage was restricted to “a man and a woman”.
The draft containing the reference to Resolution 1.10 was redrafted (News, 26 July), but at the start of the conference, conservatives from the Global South have been pressing for a rerun of the 1998 vote.
On Sunday afternoon, Archbishop Justin Welby said that the calls would continue to be discussed — they are being discussed in small groups, who record their observations with the help of a facilitator, and the programme allows for a few random groups to be able to feed back verbally on each call.
“Having listened to the bishops”, however, the electronic recording of the bishops’ choices “will not be in place for the remaining calls”.
It was explained that there will be the opportunity at the end of each session “for a verbal indication of agreement.
“If the calls gain clear assent, they will be sent forward for further work.”