Photo Credit: Tumilty / ACNS
First round of six-month programme of Bishops’ Conversations “a joy”, says Lambeth Conference company Chief Executive Phil George.
A series of organised Bishops’ Conversations are taking place over the next six months as part of the preparations for next year’s face-to-face Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops. The first round is takin place this week and have been described as “a joy” by the Chief Executive of the Lambeth Conference company, Phil George.
“After months of planning and preparations, we have been delighted to welcome so many people to the first of our online Bishops’ Conversations”, he said. “It was a joy to know that so many bishops from around the world were joining to take part. With around 500 bishops registered for these sessions, this is such an important opportunity for bishops to meet with one another and tune in to the conference themes before the face-to-face event planned for 2022.”
The first round of Bishop’s Conversations, “Called Together”, began on 6 July and more are taking place today (8 July). Groups of around 20 bishops are meeting using online conference software in groups of about 20. Bishop will remain in the same groups for the duration of the six-month programme. Through facilitated discussion, the bishops are taking part in Bible studies before discussing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in their own local contexts.
Bishop Peter Stuart, of Newcastle in the Anglican Church of Australia, said: “it was like a gathering of old and new friends who moved easily into conversation. We quickly learnt that we share a deep bond in speaking about the way of Jesus and bear a similar weight in the ministry of being a bishop.
“The conversations were humbling as we heard of the harsh political environments experienced by some of those present as well as the impact that many had experienced with Covid-19 pandemic. We moved comfortably to open and generous prayer for each other.”
The Assistant Bishop of Wellington, in the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Bishop Eleanor Sanderson, said: “as we shared from our different contexts, I was deeply encouraged and humbled to know of the co-ordinated work of our Anglican family supporting those most vulnerable in the Covid-19 pandemic. . .
“Our conversations together increased my awareness in a way that will shape my prayers and will also inform how I can seek to partner with Jesus in mobilising the people within my own diocese to work against such inequality.”
Bishop Graham Usher, of Norwich in the Church of England, said: “I’m excited that through conversation, study and prayer – as well as our experience of sharing the Gospel in our communities – that I will learn, be encouraged and challenged, and so come to see more of the face of Christ.
“That image of Christ is illuminated for me by my sisters and brothers around the Anglican Communion and I am so grateful for the spiritual richness that I discover, often from places of material poverty and those on the frontline of the impact of Covid and climate change.”
All active bishops in the Anglican Communion were invited to take part in the conversations. In some parts of the world, accessing reliable internet connections can be more challenging. In such cases, the Lambeth Conference have made small bursaries available to support those with technical needs.
Many Anglican bishops will often meet each other through different Anglican networks and initiatives, but these online sessions being held in advance of the Lambeth Conference “provide an important opportunity for new connections and relationships to be formed”, the Lambeth Conference company said in a statement.
The sessions have been designed by a working group chaired by Bishop Emma Ineson, newly-appointed Bishop to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. Other members include Bishop Anthony Poggo, the Adviser to the Archbishop of Canterbury on Anglican Communion Affairs; Professor Joseph Galgalo, from the Anglican Church of Kenya; Bishop Pradeep Samantaroy, from the Diocese of Amritsar in the united Church of North India; Lord Stephen Green, Chair of the Lambeth Conference company trustees; and Matthew Frost, a member of the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England.