Lambeth voices: a panel of Anglican bishops share their views with Faith Online


By Ruth Gledhill, TimesonLine

We have asked a selection of Anglican bishops attending the Lambeth Conference, a once-a-decade gathering of the Anglican episcopate, to share their views on the meeting as it progresses

The Lambeth Conference: July 21-22

Bishop Eugene Sutton of Maryland, USA:

“Before we delve into the big thorny issues, which won’t be easy, it’s been about increasing trust, establishing good relationships. The paws will show later.

I’ve compared this Lambeth Conference to the Anglican Communion on pilgrimage. We have to think of the Anglican Communion as a pilgrimage in which the participants are every bit as varied, diverse and cantankerous as Chaucer’s were.

The real question is will we walk this journey of faith together as pilgrims? This is a wonderful place to have a dialogue, but we will never find that perfect union – we can only ever be pilgrims.”

Bishop Hilary Garang of the Diocese of Malakal, the Upper Nile, Sudan:

(Read about the Archbishop of Sudan on Ruth Gledhill’s blog)

“To be honest, we are in a bad stage. We are sharing a deep concern about the faith of our communion which is taking our human energy, and time. There is a politically motivated agenda: it is as if the Church is not owned by all of us. It is a tragedy to see this before our eyes. We, as a generation, have an opportunity to witness for Christ, and it is hampered by this. We live in a multifaith society. The Anglican Church has had a big role in our country and has united the smaller churches for protection.For the last decade, we have looked towards the EU and the US as a source of light for the Gospel. Now they are telling us something which we do not understand. The Jerusalem Declaration made by Anglicans who attended GAFCON has wakened the concern of every region. It seems in deliberating we are doing something others have evaluated that it is not going to work

However, we love to come here as the Church of Sudan and we believe our fellowship as Christians to be guided by God’s work. We wait to see what God can do. I hope for unity, Anglican unity. If we are divided, we are weak. Our hope is that the Church of England is always choosing the middle way. Our unity will depend on the Church of England. I’m praying that God will lead the rest of our days ahead. We leave it to him.”

Bishop Alan Maigi of Papua New Guinea

“For me this is my first time at the Lambeth Conference. I’m not going to make a comment because I’m still observing and picking up some of the things. I think many of the issues we’ve heard of have still to come up.”

Bishop Peter Beckwith of Springfield, Illinois

“In my Bible study group I apologised for the behaviour of our province that has brought us to the brink of schism. Two hundred and seventy bishops are not here because they refuse to sit down with people who refuse to repent. Gene Robinson is a nice guy, but his lifestyle is not appropriate for a leader of the Church. Sure he’s a bishop, we ordained him. But that says something about our integrity. On the second day of our retreat, I had the feeling we were on the edge of a 10-storey building and the Archbishop of Canterbury was trying to talk us down without a safety net. He’s a wonderful guy, with a lot of integrity but he assumes everyone else has integrity too.

The Episcopal Church is not representing the scriptural authority of Christ. In the Episcopal Church, the biggest lie of all is that sexual morality doesn’t matter, or that it’s changing, that God is doing a new thing. Yet prophetic voices in our history have always taken us back to basics. It will be very interesting to see how things develop here. Will enough be done to preserve the integrity of the Communion? We won’t hold together if we continue like this. It will end with a lot of fragments if this conference isn’t able to give a strong confident way forward.

In the meeting with the Southern Cone, they were concerned to send a strong signal from this gathering that the Anglican Communion is going to stand for Orthodoxy. It was said in that meeting that the Western Church says things that are not Anglican and not Christian. But, as the Archbishop of Sudan has said, we can’t predict the future. We have to wait and see. The proof will be in the pudding. The time for procrastination and equivocation is over. ”

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