Lambeth Calls: Can a Church truly deal with the brokenness of the world if she herself is broken?

Jul 25, 2022 by

by Barbara Gauthier, via email distribution list, EDITED:

The 2022 Lambeth Conference officially begins on Tuesday and in advance of the bishops’ arrival words of exhortation have been sent out to those who will be attending and those who will be following the 12-day conference from home. The 2022 Lambeth Conference organizers have finally released their Study Guide for the conference, which includes the texts of the various Calls that are to be considered and provides an outline for how these Calls will be presented, discussed and then voted on electronically. Martin Davie and David Virtue and have already posted insightful commentaries — and I’m sure more will be forthcoming in the next few days.

The letter sent by Canon Phil Ashey to members of the American Anglican Council is particularly helpful in drawing attention to what will be the hot-button issue of this Lambeth Conference: will delegates affirm the Call on Human Identity, which includes a phrase identifying 1998 Lambeth Resolution I.10 as an official teaching of the Anglican Communion? One of the goals of the GSFA bishops is to reaffirm Lambeth Resolution 1.10 from the last Lambeth Conference of Bishops (1998) that defined doctrine for the Anglican Communion.

He commends both Global South Anglicans and GAFCON Anglicans for boldly declaring their unwillingness to ‘walk together” with those who advocate such teaching and for respecting each other’s decision to either attend or not attend Lambeth.

“Biblically faithful followers of Jesus in the Anglican way can disagree charitably on the best way to resist false teaching, but we can and must join hands in standing up for the faith once delivered, sharing that faith in Christ with others, and doing mission together based on a shared confession of faith. This is the future for biblically faithful Anglicans within the Communion.”

This vision of a future Anglican Communion revitalized by its biblically faithful GSFA and GAFCON provinces is also the hope of Abp. Mouneer Anis, who is now serving as a GSFA advisor. He offers to his fellow Global South Anglicans his own heartfelt prayers and reflections in this kairos moment for the future of Anglican Communion as it stands at a crossroads. He has no doubt that this Lambeth Conference represents a great opportunity to resolve the Communion divisions, but only “if the bishops are determined, have the good will, and are given the opportunity to do so.” But the bishops must be careful to choose their way forward wisely, for “one road leads to healing the current divisions and another road makes the situation worse and irreparable between the traditional and the revisionist Anglicans.”

As one who has worked closely with both ++Rowan Williams and ++Justin Welby, the former Archbishop of Egypt and the Middle East is in a unique position to address the foundational flaw in the structure of the Anglican Communion that has allowed unilateral decisions made by The Episcopal Church and the Church of Canada to develop from a minor “tear in the fabric” of the Communion into Communion-wide crisis of such magnitude.

++Anis realized that Anglicanism had in its governance structures a serious “ecclesial deficit”: it had no way of effectively disciplining such wayward provinces and bringing them back into line with the rest of the Communion. If moral authority is dependent on voluntary compliance alone, how is it possible to effecively discipline a non-compliant and disorderly province? The Windsor Report described in detail this ecclesial deficit but it was the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA) under ++Anis’ leadership that took the Windsor recommendations seriously and developed “an enhanced ecclesial responsibility” within its new Covenantal Structure (Cairo, Oct 2019) to be a model to follow in the Anglican Communion.

Lambeth 2022 may be the last opportunity for the Anglican Communion as a whole to correct this ecclesial deficit and together restore the apostolic faith and order so cavalierly discarded by Provinces that “put emphasis on being autonomous and forget the necessity of being interdependent; they forget that what affects all should be decided by all.”


Herein lies a great difference between ++Anis and ++Welby. By focusing all eyes “on the major global crises of our time,” the major global crisis that is currently ripping the Anglican Communion to shreds can be easily ignored and conveniently overlooked. What will unite the Church, ++Welby proposes, is hearing, sharing, praying and affirming each other’s ministries to the world’s needs in diverse social contexts. Focus on fixing the world’s ills and you thereby fix the Church’s woes.

Another deep divide between the two archbishops is their understanding of what constitutes Anglican Identity. For ++Anis it is confessing the “one holy catholic and apostolic Church” of the Creed and being “of one mind in regard to the authority of Scripture or even the uniqueness of Christ as the way, the truth and the life.” In ++Welby’s understanding that definition has been expanded beyond confines of traditional Anglican formularies:

“The Call on Anglican Identity states that Anglicans ‘belong to a tradition that seeks faithfulness to God in richly diverse cultures, distinct human experiences, and deep disagreements.’ That call also states: ‘The Anglican Communion is a gift from God. Governed by Scripture, affirming the ancient creeds, sacramentally centred, and episcopally led – Anglicans seek to be faithful to God in their agreement and in their disagreements’.”

What we seem to see here is the celebration of a new 4-D Anglicanism: Diverse, Distinct, with Deep Disagreement. Faithfulness to God in this context — “agreeing to disagree” — appears to have become a mantra of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s tenure and embracing “good disagreement” a preeminent Anglican virtue that turns the fracturedness of the Anglican Communion from a bug into a feature.

The Archbishop ends on a conciliatory note of hope: “Without ignoring those things on which we deeply disagree, I pray that we will approach this gathering with an even deeper sense of what unites us: the love of Jesus Christ and his calling to serve God’s world.”


In conjunction with ++Welby’s pre-Lambeth message, the Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops released a booklet to serve as a Study Guide for the proposed Lambeth Calls, outlining what Lambeth organizers consider current church teaching and suggesting the next steps in calls to action. Under the title “God’ church for God’s world”, the Calls cover areas of global concern such as climate change and internal church matters such as same sex marriage and reparations for slavery. At its meeting in Canterbury 26 July – 8 August, bishops will be asked to affirm current church teaching and vote on next steps such as specific actions or arranging more discussion. [Click here to read the Lambeth Conference Calls Study Guide]

Martin Davie has written a sterling in-depth commentary — straightforward and to the point — on the eleven Lambeth Calls. He goes over each one in detail from an objective perspective, noting that each has its good points and bad points, as do most documents drawn up by committee that inevitably prove to require some tweaking or more extensive reworking. Overall, Davie concludes, “the proposed Lambeth Calls contain much good material, but, as indicated above, they are also in need of amendment. The bishops should claim the right to make amendments and then make good use of it.” Whether they will be permitted to do so or not is another matter.


There seems to something here to offend everyone regardless of where they stand. It’s pretty clear that the GSFA delegates will not be happy with the Calls as written or with the new “vote” by approval rating. But David Virtue points out that the more liberal and progressive bishops will be equally upset with what is being presented to them. The American and Canadian bishops were already miffed that Welby formally invited gay and lesbian bishops to Lambeth and then refused to issue Lambeth invitations to their significant others as “spouses.” But that looks to be just the beginning of their Lambeth unhappiness.

Progressives as well as Conservatives will find themselves stuck between the same rock and hard place, being forced to choose between “yes-affirm” or “yes-needs more discernment” — and with no possibility of amendment or line-item veto. One might wonder if the way the Calls were worded was intended to support and offend both sides equally. Case in point with this sticky wicket embedded in the Call on Human Identity:

(iii) a reaffirmation of Lambeth I.10 that upholds marriage as between a man and a woman and requires deeper work to uphold the dignity and witness of LGBTQ Anglicans.

Progressive Anglicans are seeing road-rage red at the first half of section (iii). Bp. John Harvey Taylor of Los Angeles reveals the depth of frustration and betrayal that he and his North American colleagues are experiencing as a result of what is being thrown at them by the “Bait-and-switch Lambeth Conference”.

“We’ll be issued electronic voting devices and asked, among other things, to vote on (they call it “affirm,” so I guess they’re electronic affirmation devices) Lambeth’s notorious, communion-rivening statement in 1998, known as Lambeth I.10, that biblical marriage can only be between a man and a woman. If we don’t vote yes, we can vote that a question needs more discernment. As of now, we won’t be able to stand up decisively for people’s God-given human rights and vote no.”

And in turn, the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA) bishops will balk like an angry mule at the second half of section (iii), feeling deeply betrayed by the Call’s terminology of same-sex affirmation. Virtue insists that “they will see in it a duplicitous stand with language that calls for the “dignity and witness” of LGBTQ Anglicans, language they have never signed off on or agreed to.” Unlike their progressive counterparts, Abp. Justin Badi and those at Lambeth with him have not been caught by surprise.

“The deeper truth is that African, Asian and South American bishops have had enough of liberal western Anglican elites like Welby and his growing elitist bishops owning, operating and manipulating the agenda for western pansexual ends…. Africa’s archbishops… are nobody’s fool. They see the Church of England following in the footsteps of the American Episcopal Church on homosexuality.”


In his pre-conference video message the evangelical Anglican archbishop and GSFA Chair sounded a clarion call to biblical faithfulness at Lambeth: to seek direct affirmation of Resolution 1:10 of Lambeth Conference 1998 as the official teaching of the Anglican Church on marriage and call on provinces to align their faith and order accordingly.

Progressives and conservatives seem equally concerned about the content of the Lambeth Calls. Virtue contends that “both sides appear ready for battle” — but with no apparent way to engage each another directly. The rules they’ve been given state clearly that the eleven Calls are to be considered without amendment and “voted” on without any possibility of saying “No.”

One might indeed wonder whether this unconventional approach is intentional on the part of Canterbury, the Anglican Communion Office and the Lambeth Design Group. The Calls appear to have been carefully crafted and the “approval” process expertly managed to ensure that any opposition will be effectively neutralized and the desired outcome achieved. The only question still unanswered as I see it is whether the bishops will agree to play by the rules or decide to intervene and “claim the right to make amendments and then make good use of it” as Davie recommended, or insist on the line-item veto suggested by Virtue.

This seems to be the lay of the land going into Lambeth and how the various factions within the Anglican Communion are positioning themselves for having to deal with an unexpected and novel format that appears to be boldly going where no Lambeth Conference has gone before. It’s surely uncharted territory for everyone involved — and as my paternal grandmother would say, “What a cockamamie idea they’ve come up with.”


Consider well Abp. Mouneer Anis’ faithful example: “Pray for unity, but not unity at the expense of the truth.”




Gracious Father, we pray for you holy Catholic Church.

Fill her with all truth, in all truth with all peace.

Where she is corrupt, purify her;

where she is in error, direct her;

where in anything she is amiss, reform her;

Where she is right, strengthen her;

where she is in want, provide for her;

where she is divided, reunite her;

for the sake of Jesus Christ you Son our Savior.





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