The Bishop of Guildford, Andrew Watson, told the General Synod that a ‘motherhood and apple pie’ issue - to affirm companion overseas links in the Anglican Communion in the run-up to Lambeth 2020 - lies at the heart of the Church of England’s Renewal and Reform programme,
After three representative bishops from the Anglican Communion received a standing ovation from the house, a lively debate preceded clear passing of the motion (see below).
Introducing the motion, the Bishop of Guildford said: "we have a long way to go before parishes, deaneries and dioceses make international links anything like a 'central part of their strategy for mission and discipleship'"
"We're all so immersed in a set of culturally-conditioned values and presuppositions that we desperately need those from outside to help us distinguish the Christian from the cultural within us."
"Where the rubber hits the road"
The Bishop also commended the report The Nature of Companion Links (GS2081) which he said was "where the rubber hits the road."
Jayne Ozanne (Oxford) challenged Synod to urge parishes to consider positive discrimination in including young LGBTI Christians in link groups, and to talk about the ‘elephant in the room’ over differences within the Communion on human sexuality. Responding, the Bishop of Guildford said that these matters were often discussed once a link had been established, and that it was important for cultures to be challenged on both sides of links, within the context of friendship.
As with the last Lambeth Conference (2008) visiting bishops and archbishops from around the Anglican Communion will be invited to spend time in dioceses in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, prior to the 2020 meeting which takes place at the University of Kent in the last week of July.
The Bishop of Chelmsford, Stephen Cottrell, said he hoped that bishops who hadn’t attended the conference in 2008 would attend in 2020, but noted that bishops from Kenya who had boycotted the actual conference did attend the hospitality events beforehand, underlining their importance.
"Key instrument to dialogue"
The Archbishop of Cape Town, and Chair of the Lambeth 2020 Design Group, Most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba, said that hospitality was a “key instrument for dialogue” across the Communion and gave bishops an opportunity to acclimatise ahead of the conference ‘not least to the weather!’
The Lambeth Conference is one of the Anglican Communion’s four instruments of unity, and brings together bishops from across the world, usually once every 10 years.
The other Anglican Communion Bishops to speak were The Most Revd Humphrey Peters, Bishop of Peshwar and Moderator of the Church of Pakistan and the Most Revd Dr Winston Halapua, Bishop of Polynesia and Primate and Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.
The motion passed was as follows:
That this synod affirm the companion Links between the Church of England’s dioceses and other parts of the Anglican Communion; encouraging Diocesan Companion Links to maximise their contribution to the hospitality programme prior to the Lambeth Conference, and call upon the parishes, deaneries and dioceses of the Church of England to make international links a central part of their strategy for mission and discipleship, drawing on the resources of the Diocesan Companion Links and the Mission and Development Agencies.
Photo: scottgunn on flickr licence info (creative commons)
Catch up on the debate below