The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, has this week hosted a group of international Bishops for a retreat in the north of England.
The diocese of Leeds has Anglican partnership links with Sudan, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, USA (Southwestern Virginia), and international ecumenical links with Lutherans in Sweden (Skara) and Germany (Erfurt).
Those participating were: the Archbishop of Khartoum, the Bishops of Mara, Colombo, Faisalabad, Southwestern Virginia, Skara and the Superintendent of Erfurt; they spent five days with the Bishop of Leeds and the suffragan bishops of Bradford, Huddersfield, Richmond, Ripon and Wakefield.
In a context of prayer, worship and deep fellowship the bishops took time to explain the cultural, social and church/missional contexts in which they serve and the polities of those churches. This formed the bedrock of deeper exploration of biblical theology, hermeneutics, prayer, spirituality, discipleship and ethics as seen and understood in their particular context.
Recognition of the differences that threaten to divide Anglicans from one another sat within a deep commitment of mutual friendship, fellowship and love. Conversations were characterised by honesty, generosity, grace and genuine attentiveness.
Grateful for the hospitality during this retreat, and following discussion of how our partnerships might be renewed or further developed from here, the bishops resolved:
- to recognise in one another a brother in Christ
- to form a community of mutual loving, learning, support, encouragement and challenge
- to pray for one another
- to communicate regularly
- to check with each other reports about developments in one another's church before passing judgment or comment
- to face honestly any future strains or challenges that threaten the unity of our church or the bonds of affection to which we are both called and committed
- to set up conversations to explore the potential for optimising multilateral partnerships where possible.
The bishops further resolved to meet again in Leeds prior to the Lambeth Conference in 2020.