Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Rival Lambeth Conference announced

A RIVAL to the Anglican Communion’s 10-yearly Lambeth Conference has finally been announced.

The ‘Global Anglican Future Conference’, as it is to be known, will take place in June (15-22) just weeks before the official gathering of all the world’s Anglican bishops takes place in Canterbury. It will bring together bishops and primates from the ‘orthodox’ wings of the church, both evangelical and Anglo-Catholic.

Today’s announcement is certain to put more pressure on the Archbishop of Canterbury who is struggling to keep the warring sides together in a worldwide Communion of self-governing Churches who are split over the consecration of an openly gay man as Bishop in the USA.

But perhaps symbolically the ‘orthodox’ leaders are making a pointed statement about the leadership of Archbishop Rowan Williams, by saying the conference will be held in the Holy Land.

Last year one of those ‘orthodox’ bishops, the Most Rev Peter Akinola of Nigeria, warned that ‘it was not necessary to go through Lambeth to meet God.’ By meeting in the Holy Land, the message they are sending out is that the position of Archbishop of Canterbury is of little importance.

The potential for the rival conference to hasten a split in the Anglican Communion is gathering momentum, but if the organisers present it as a complementary conference to Lambeth, rather than a rival, it could ease some of the tensions.

Southern Cone Primate Gregory Venables said: “While there are many calls for shared mission, it clearly must rise from common shared faith. Our pastoral responsibility to the people that we lead is now to provide the opportunity to come together around the central and unchanging tenets of the central and unchanging historic Anglican faith. Rather than being subject to the continued chaos and compromise that have dramatically impeded Anglican mission, this conference will seek to clarify God’s call at this time and build a network of cooperation for Global mission.”

Canon Chris Sugden, one of the organizers, added: "While this conference is not a specific challenge to the Lambeth Conference, it will provide opportunities for fellowship and care for those who have decided not to attend Lambeth. There was no other place to meet at this critical time for the future of the Church than in the Holy Land.”

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