The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is inviting leaders of other Christian Churches to send observers to next year’s Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops. For next year’s event, invitations are being extended to a greater number of Pentecostal and Evangelical Churches and bodies than at previous Lambeth Conferences. A Lambeth Conference spokesperson said that this was to “recognise their importance in the changing face of world Christianity.”
The invitations include those Churches in Communion with the whole Anglican Communion – the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht, the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (the Philippine Independent Church), and the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar. They also include some Lutheran Churches in North America and Europe, which are in Communion with the Anglican provinces in those regions.
Representatives of more than 30 other Christian Churches are being invited to attend as ecumenical observers. These include Churches and Communions with which Anglicans are in formal dialogue, such as the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Methodist, Lutheran and Reformed Churches and also multi-lateral bodies such as the World Council of Churches and the Global Christian Forum.
In addition to leaders of Churches in Communion and ecumenical partners, representatives from Churches formed by people who left the Anglican Communion are also being invited to send observers. These churches – the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA), the Anglican Church of Brazil and the Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of South Africa (REACH-SA) – are not formally part of the Anglican Communion but are recognised to different extents by some of the Communion’s provinces.
The Lambeth Conference takes place once every 10 years. The Archbishop of Canterbury invites all eligible bishops from the 40 Anglican Communion provinces, or member Churches, to take part, as well as the bishops from the five extra provincial dioceses – Ceylon, Portugal, Spain, Bermuda and the Falkland Islands. Recent Lambeth Conferences have been attended by a number of ecumenical guests and observers who attend sessions of the conference and may be invited to speak, but do not vote.
The Lambeth Conference 2020 – God’s Church for God’s World: walking, listening and witnessing together - will take place at the University of Kent in Canterbury from 23 July to 2 August. The Lambeth Conference is one of the four Instruments of Communion, or unity, within the Anglican Communion. The others are the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates’ Meeting, and the triennial Anglican Consultative Council.
The next meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council – ACC-17 – gets underway in Hong Kong on Sunday (28 April).