Exclusion of same-sex spouses at Lambeth Conference ‘unfortunate,’ primate says

Jun 2, 2022 by

By Matt Puddister, Anglican Journal:

Bishops and archbishops from across the worldwide Anglican Communion are gearing up for the 15th Lambeth Conference, which after repeated delays is finally set to take place July 26 to Aug. 8.

Convened by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the conference is an international gathering of bishops—held at Lambeth Palace, London as well as Canterbury Cathedral and the University of Kent, also in Canterbury—to discuss Anglican Communion affairs.

The theme of the upcoming conference is “God’s Church for God’s World— Walking, Listening and Witnessing Together.” Themes for plenary sessions include mission and evangelism, safe church, life of the Anglican Communion, reconciliation, the environment, Christian unity, interfaith relations and discipleship.

The last Lambeth Conference was in 2008, and the gathering typically takes place roughly every 10 years. This year’s conference was originally set to take place in 2020 before being postponed first to 2021, then 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Differences over same-sex marriage continue to loom over Lambeth. Primates and bishops in three of the largest Anglican provinces in Africa—Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda—are expected to skip the conference in protest at the invitation of bishops in same-sex unions. And while Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has invited the spouses of bishops in heterosexual marriages to attend, the spouses of bishops in same-sex unions are excluded.

Archbishop Linda Nicholls, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, said the original delay to 2020 was in part because Welby wanted to encourage as many provinces to participate in Lambeth as possible.

“He wanted to visit all the provinces and encourage participation, because of course there’s been some resistance to participation from some parts of the communion if Canada and the United States and others … were going to be there.”

Nicholls called the exclusion of same-sex spouses “unfortunate.”

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