Dear People of Kootenay,
Gerald and I arrived safely with uneventful flights (the best kind!). We have settled into our dorm room on campus at Kent University. July 26 was registration and orientation, and a day to recover some from jet lag. July 27, Yesterday was Welcome Day. I met in person with the zoom bible study group I have been part of for the past two years, with bishops from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the U.S. and Melanesia; wonderful to be together! The day ended with a supper outside on picnic tables, with great live jazz and international food from food trucks; a creative informal opening meal which allowed for lots of visiting and connecting with people. We kept pulling up maps and zooming in on Canada, explaining the mountain ranges and lakes of the Diocese of Kootenay. Gerald and I have had great fun reconnecting with the bishops and their spouses who hosted us in India in January 2020.
Thankfully the heat wave of last week has abated here in England. The grass is brown, but we were wearing sweaters to keep warm.
The theme for this Lambeth is "God's Church for God's world", and I look forward to fruitful discussion about the "Lambeth Calls", how we as Church address matters of global concern. ("Calls" are not resolutions, as I have said before, Lambeth does not have that decision-making power for binding resolutions) The Lambeth Calls will be for each province or diocese to decide how they address particular issues in their own context.
I have been dismayed, as many of you have, that the call around Human Dignity, which I thought was good when I first saw it a few weeks ago, was side-tracked by a last minute addition that asked us to affirm that marriage is only between a man and a woman; this addition was not authorized by the due process of the original drafting committee which included Canadian bishop Kevin Robertson and other gay voices. That phrase has now been removed. It is very important for the people of Kootenay to know that I will be working with the groups of bishops that are committed to a more inclusive approach to human dignity.
The current revision reads:
“Prejudice on the basis of gender or sexuality threatens human dignity. Given Anglican polity, and especially the autonomy of Provinces, there is disagreement and a plurality of views on the relationship between human dignity and human sexuality. Yet, we experience the safeguarding of dignity in deepening dialogue. It is the mind of the Anglican Communion as a whole that “all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation are full members of the Body of Christ” and to be welcomed, cared for, and treated with respect (I.10, 1998). Many Provinces continue to affirm that same gender marriage is not permissible. Lambeth Resolution I.10 (1998) states that the “legitimizing or blessing of same sex unions” cannot be advised. Other Provinces have blessed and welcomed same sex union/marriage after careful theological reflection and a process of reception. As Bishops we remain committed to listening and walking together to the maximum possible degree, despite our deep disagreement on these issues.”
Undoubtedly there will be further redrafting and more discussion.
The full inclusion of 2SLGBTQIA+ people in our Church is a basic and essential priority for me and for many in the Diocese of Kootenay. I know that news of further debate at Lambeth has caused more distress and frustration. For those of you who are 2SLGBTQIA+, I acknowledge the cost to you of these further debates in the wider church. Please know that I, with many other bishops, from Canada and around the world, hold your inclusion as essential to the fullness of life of our Church. We will do all in our power to continue to work for your full inclusion.
Part of my distress about this is that the press picks up on the controversial matters of sexuality and does not cover the equally important urgent matters we are addressing regarding poverty, climate change, sustainable development, interfaith relations, and reconciliation.
Today, Thursday July 28, is a day of retreat at Canterbury Cathedral. Please hold us in your prayers. Our daily prayer is that Christ's kingdom may come on earth!
Yours in Christ,
From the Lambeth Conference
Day 1 at Lambeth
Day 2 at Lambeth
Following the announcement on 26 July about the Lambeth Calls, the Lambeth Calls document is available on the Lambeth Conference website.
This document formally replaces the Lambeth Calls: Guidance and Study Guide.