Anglican Bishops Tackle ‘Hard Issues’ on Anglican Identity During Global Conference in Canterbury

Anglican Bishops Tackle ‘Hard Issues’ on Anglican Identity During Global Conference in Canterbury

In the ongoing Lambeth Conference at Canterbury, England, over 650 Anglican bishops are taking 'hard issues' head on as they shift focus towards their faith's identity.

According to a report by Episcopal News Service (ENS), the bishops are from over 40 provinces under the Anglican Communion. 

They come from 165 countries worldwide, and each is equipped with talking points on a personal and local context that they openly share with fellow bishops.

The religious leaders attend the conference held once every 10 years. 

The report said that the conference started on July 26 and will end on Aug. 8.

Discussing the 'Hard Issues'

ENS said Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, leads this year's conference.

The news outlet revealed that Welby challenged fellow Anglican bishops to "embrace commonalities" in their observance of the Christian faith expressed in an Anglican way.

The Canterbury archbishop made the call amid the issues that had become hotly debated among Anglican church leaders before the start of the conference.

ENS said that the divisive issues included same-sex marriage, which almost threatened the event's success intended to zero in on "unifying themes."

"We are divided by many things. How do we come together as God's holy people, a son in Christ? How do we listen to each other's stories?" Welby reportedly asked fellow bishops during a Bible exposition.

As the conference convenor, Archbishop Welby chose Peter's New Testament letter as the event's biblical anchor. 

The conference theme is "God's Church for God's World," the report said.

Welby explained that the early Christians mentioned in I Peter held their hopes despite facing threats of exile and persecution. 

He added that those Christians focused on God's order for them to achieve holiness, ENS quoted him saying.

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Divisiveness Within the Church

The ENS report revealed that some factions within the Anglican Communion had divided themselves over sensitive issues.

Some conservative bishops from Asia and Africa said they would "force consideration" should a resolution stating the majority's disagreement with same-sex marriage get to the plenary. 

No such resolution materialized, the report bared.

A spokesperson for Lambeth Palace said on Aug. 1 that Archbishop Welby reportedly had a meeting on July 30 with bishops belonging to the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches.

The fellowship's spokesperson refused to issue an update on what transpired during the meeting.

Meanwhile, Archbishop Maimbo Mndolwa, who belongs to the fellowship, indirectly talked about the seeming divide within the Anglican Communion.

Mndolwa explained in his Aug. 1 discussion how the Anglican Church of Tanzania has dealt with three "strains" of the Anglican faith. 

The bishop reportedly identified the strains as charismatic, Anglo-catholic, and evangelical Anglicanism.

He explained that each strain carries a unique view and focus, meaning three churches are built in a single country.

Mndolwa narrated how the Anglican provinces in Tanzania managed to work side by side despite such differences, the ENS report said.

In closing, the Tanzanian bishop told his fellow Anglican church leaders to "mind the gap" and to have the differences be the church's saving grace instead of dividing it.

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