Photo Credit: Chichester Cathedral
Work to begin laying the biblical foundations for the next Lambeth Conference will get underway later this year when 35 leading New Testament scholars from different denominations around the world gather for the St Augustine Seminar at Lambeth Palace. Around 800 bishops from around the Anglican Communion will gather at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England, in the summer of 2020 for the once in a decade Lambeth Conference. As part of their time together, the bishops will engage in Bible study around the first epistle of Peter (1 Peter) and the St Augustine Seminar will begin the work of preparing materials for the studies.
Some 35 New Testament scholars from Australia, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, China, Columbia, Egypt, India, Ireland, Kenya, Nigeria, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, the UK, and the US will take part in the St Augustine’s Seminar. The participants come from different churches of the Anglican Communion and a wide spread of other denominations, including Methodist, Presbyterian, Uniting Churches of Australia, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, and Armenian Orthodox Churches.
The Seminar will be convened by Professor Jennifer Strawbridge, Associate Professor in New Testament Studies at Mansfield College in the University of Oxford. The group will consider the text from 1 Peter and help to draw up critical thinking to help shape the Bible studies and other aspects of the Lambeth Conference. After the initial meeting in November, a smaller group will convene at Lambeth Palace again in May 2019 to draw together resources.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “I am looking forward immensely to the St Augustine Seminar in November. This gathering will play a significant role as we seek God’s wisdom on developing and refining themes for the Lambeth Conference.
“The book of 1 Peter is a personal favourite of mine. There is so much in it that is pertinent for the Church, for the world, for the times we are living in and for us as we seek direction for the Anglican Communion in the years ahead.
“The expertise and insight of the theologians who gather will be vital in informing the thinking in areas such as the daily Bible expositions, group Bible studies and homilies. I pray it will be a stimulating and exciting time together.”
Professor Strawbridge described her participation in the St Augustine Seminar as “an absolute honour”, adding: “I have admired the work of many of those in attendance; and am excited to see what happens when so many incredible, convicted, and faithful hearts and minds are brought together to discuss scripture and the Church.
“One of the focuses of Lambeth will be on collegiality and my hope is that this seminar will model precisely that as we use the lens of Scripture to explore what it means to walk together in a connected but not necessarily relational world. Moreover, my hope is that this group will think creatively about different approaches to biblical study, including ways of disagreeing well over the meaning of a text.
“The focus of the seminar will be intensive work on 1 Peter set alongside the overarching theme of the Lambeth Conference: God’s Church for God’s World: walking listening and witnessing together. Thus, members of the seminar will think about 1 Peter theologically and in context. But such a focus will be set alongside the wider themes drawn from 1 Peter such as our calling in Christ, our communion with Christ, the proclamation of Christ, and the exhortation in 1 Peter to shepherd the flock with humility.”