The Archbishop of Canterbury has written to the leaders of the 40 autonomous Churches in the Anglican Communion to invite them to attend a Primates’ Meeting in January 2020. Primates’ Meetings are one of four “Instruments of Communion” within the Anglican Communion. The last one took place in Canterbury in October 2017. The 2020 meeting will be in the Jordanian capital Amman from 13 to 17 January.
Archbishop Justin announced the meeting in an Epiphany letter to his fellow-Primates last month. He gave further details in a subsequent letter this month.
In his Epiphany letter, Archbishop Justin spoke of the “long and agonising” list of difficulties facing Christians across the world, including violence, corruption, poverty, religious-based discrimination and climate-change related rises in water levels. But, he said, “it is our vocation to be bearers of joy . . . in the midst of the real troubles of our world.”
The Communiqué from the Primates’ Meeting in October 2017 explained that a series of regional Primates’ Meetings would take place in the run-up to the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops in 2020; and said that the Archbishop of Canterbury would consider whether to call a full Primates’ Meeting in advance of it too. In his Epiphany letter, Archbishop Justin explained why he had now decided to call such a meeting.
“When we come together at the Lambeth Conference in 2020, we will speak of holiness seeking to ensure that we aim to be a holy church”, he said. “We will reflect on intentional discipleship and the proclamation in word and deed. We will pray together and find the refreshment of worship in many styles. We will gather in fellowship and mutual love.
“Yet to get there we must prepare. We must prepare in witness, so that we arrive in Canterbury like the 70 (Luke 10:17), full of joy and testimony. We must prepare in worship, so that we are able to worship with others.
“I have been privileged to spend time with some of you at three regional Primates’ Meetings in 2018 and I’m looking forward to three more this year. Following on from these regional meetings, it is my intention to call a meeting of all Primates in January 2020. It is my hope that you will all be able to attend and that together we will be able to take forward the richly diverse conversations that we have enjoyed at regional level.”
One of three regional Primates’ Meetings this year took place earlier this month in Amman for leaders from the Middle East and south Asia. The leaders of other Asian provinces will gather in Kuala Lumpur in October. European Anglican leaders will gather in Northern Ireland later this month.
In his latest letter, Archbishop Justin confirmed that he wanted the Primates to decide the agenda together, as had been the practice in recent Meetings. But he said that he wanted the Primates to discuss the 2020 Lambeth Conference; and also the work of the Archbishop’s Task Group, which was established following the 2016 Primates’ Meeting to explore ways to restore relationships, rebuild mutual trust and responsibility, heal the legacy of hurt and explore deeper relationships within the Anglican Communion.
“The Task Group is preparing a report and recommendations for the 2020 Primates’ Meeting”, Archbishop Justin said. “One of its recommendations, which has my strong support, is to have a short season of Prayer and Repentance across the Communion during the fifth week of Lent 2020.”
He said that he hoped that the Season would be formally launched and committed to at the Primates’ Meeting; but he wanted to give primates early notice so that they could plan for the Season in their provinces.