Lambeth 2008

The once-a-decade Lambeth Conference has concluded. The Lambeth Conference is a gathering of the bishops of the Anglican Communion. Lambeth Palace is the residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury in London. There are so many bishops in the Communion now that the Lambeth Palace can no longer host them. Beginning with the 1998 Lambeth Conference, the bishops meet at Canterbury Cathedral and Kent University both in Kent.

Many anticipated fireworks at this year’s conference over the issues of human sexuality. This did not materialize, mainly because Archbishop Rowan Williams designed the conference format to prevent such a thing from happening. The bishops used indaba groups to talk to each other. There were 16 indaba groups and each one of those was broken into smaller groups. In parts of southern Africa indaba groups are used by tribes to talk out conflicts. They are instrumental in achieving consensus.

No consensus was reached at Lambeth 2008, though many bishops more clearly understood each other’s point of view. There were no votes taken. There is a conference report that is supposed to reflect what was said at the conference (http://www.lambethconference.org/reflections/document.cfm).

There is continued movement toward an Anglican Covenant. The bishops were able to give input on the latest draft. There is also a push to have a final version approved by the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) at their May 2009 meeting. Perhaps not coincidentally, this would be in time before the Episcopal Church triennial General Convention. There would then be pressure for the Episcopal Church to ratify the covenant in 2009 or suffer a possible expelling from the Anglican Communion. 2009 should be a very interesting year.

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