The Primate of South East Asia, and Bishop of West Malaysia, Archbishop Moon Hing, reflects on the benefits of the Lambeth Conference.
I was asked many times on the benefits and purposes of the Lambeth Conference – it is costly, like a long paid holiday for the bishops, no tangible benefit to the local church or diocese. It was then my mind immediately went back to the days of persecution of the early church during the Roman Empire for nearly 300 years. Soon after Constantine became the Emperor, he summoned the bishops for a number of ecumenical councils. I am sure the Christians who had just returned to normal living as citizens of the Empire were busy planting churches and doing evangelism. Voices and grumblings concerning the bishops going for paid holiday and eating the emperor’s food at the ecumenical councils were certainly rumbling loudly, irritatingly and extensive throughout the churches.
On hind sight, without the ecumenical councils, there will be no canonisation of the New Testament, the formulation of the Creeds, the doctrines and the orthodox belief. Similarly, the Lambeth Conference, since its inception in 1867, has firmed up many of our Anglican manner of belief and practice, such as: the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral in 1888, Instruments of Communion in 1988, Companion Links between Dioceses in 1988, Resolution I:10 on Human Sexuality in 1998, etc.
I trust while local parishes have their parish retreats to discern and hear from God, the dioceses their diocesan retreats and conferences, similarly, the Anglican Communion needs the Lambeth Conference.
I have seen lots of benefits and positive measures from the companionship links between dioceses in my province. Particularly, the Diocese of West Malaysia has linked with the Diocese of Lichfield for the last 30 years, since 1988. In July, we are going to extend our partnership link for another five years.
This is a happy link with young people, adults, women, senior citizens and clergy exchanges. One of the beneficial programmes is the St Chad’s Volunteers Programme (SCVP) where young people from both dioceses spend considerable months in each other diocese learning and discovering their faith, other people’s culture, language and belief, and how they cope with their daily living as a community of faith and remain in their Christian witness, and discipleship-making – not just a certificate study course – but a life transforming process where mutual training and learning Christ’s teaching in different circumstances and situations should be provided and experienced. The process of discipleship training is best received and most effective outside our own comfort zone.