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13th Lambeth Conference concludes with Eucharist & fireworks

Posted on: August 8, 1998 3:11 PM
Related Categories: Lambeth Conference 1998

by James Thrall
Lambeth Conference Communications

With fireworks more joyful than some that erupted during the three-week meeting, the Lambeth Conference concluded Saturday (August 8) with Eucharist and closing celebration.

The arduous three weeks of the business of Lambeth behind them, bishops, spouses and staff sampled barbecue and danced to the music of a swing band before enjoying the fireworks display over the village of Canterbury.

Earlier, at the final Eucharist, Archbishop George Carey used his last sermon of the international event to highlight once more the diversity of the Anglican Communion.

"We have come to know for our own selves that so to delight in each others' diversity is not-as some commentators sometimes seem to suggest-in any way to 'fudge' the hard questions. Quite the opposite," Archbishop Carey said. "God invites his people to enjoy diversity, to use it, not to weaken but 'for the building up of the body.' So it is not an amiable compromise but a diversity through which we are strengthened to face the hard questions."

At the same time, he acknowledged, the conference also has had its moments of tension and conflict.

"We know, too, what it is to move from a 'diversity' which can be delighted in and celebrated, to something quite different: a 'differing' from each other which gathers heat, and can turn into a very painful dispute," he said.

But even that "wrestling together" can prove the greatest bond, Archbishop Carey suggested.

"The kind of unity we want to achieve for the world's sake, is not the facile coming-together of the like-minded or the pretence of agreement where there is none," he said. "It is the profound unity which belongs to a family which has been tried and tested not just by the diversity of its members and the variety of their life-styles, but by controversy and profound disagreements encircled by a still deeper love which holds a family together."

Archbishop Carey returned several times to the faces of Lambeth, noting in particular how large-screen projection had filled the plenary sessions with the images of participants' faces.

"Faces. On the screen behind me we have seen so many faces; faces of speakers, faces of the musicians, faces of one another as the camera has roamed over us," he said. "Before we came here we knew about each other but we didn't know each other's faces. Now we have seen them. In doing so we have begun to see, and to know, each other."

Thank you to the Careys

Primate Keith Rayner of Australia, who presided at the Australian-rite service, offered Archbishop Carey and his wife, Eileen, the conference's official thanks, praising them for their "energy and tremendous enthusiasm," and "warm, personal" touch in directing Lambeth and the Spouses' Programme.

Picking up on the sermon theme of "faces," he prompted applause by noting that Archbishop Carey in his pastoral presence had been the "face of Christ for us."

Through contributions from Conference participants, a special bursary fund will be set up in the Careys' names to provide scholarships for students from around the Communion who want to study in England, Rayner said.

Whereas recent Lambeth Conferences were plagued with the question, "Will there be another Lambeth?" Rayner noted that, thanks largely to the Careys' leadership, "I've not heard that question this time."

Future Lambeths may be different, he admitted. "We may have to look at how it's done." But, he said, that Lambeth will continue seems certain, and "that says a great deal about how we go away from this conference."

Future Lambeths may be different, he admitted. "We may have to look at how it's done." But, he said, that Lambeth will continue seems certain, and "that says a great deal about how we go away from this conference."

"We have seen the face of the Anglican Communion," said Archbishop Carey in his response of thanks for the gift. "It's beamed on us, and it's beamed out on the entire world. We have a tremendous future."