The Anglican Alliance at the Lambeth Conference

5 September 2022

Meeting old friends and making new ones at the Anglican Alliance stall. Image: Anglican Alliance/Elizabeth Perry

Fourteen years after it was conceived at the fourteenth Lambeth Conference in 2008, the Anglican Alliance played a full and active role in the fifteenth, which took place between July 26th and August 8th in Canterbury, UK.

Convened by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference ‘is an international meeting of Anglican bishops. The conference discusses church and world affairs and the global mission of the Anglican Communion for the decade ahead’.

Contributing to the conference

The Anglican Alliance contributed to the conference in numerous ways, drawing on the relationships, experience and learning made in the past decade.

The Anglican Alliance was responsible for delivering eight of the seminars of the Lambeth Conference, often in collaboration with others. These were on the themes of: the Sustainable Development Goals and Asset-Based Church & Community Transformation; the Environment; Climate Change and the Communion Forest; Migration and Human Trafficking; Health & Fake News; Mental Health; Youth livelihoods; School Education. Bishops and other contributors from across the world shared their expertise in these seminars, helping connect, inspire and equip others in the Anglican Communion for effective action in these areas.

“Living the Fifth Mark of Mission” Environment seminar. Image: Anglican Alliance/Elizabeth Perry

The Alliance co-led the delivery of the London Day of the Lambeth Conference, a day at Lambeth Palace which focused on the environment and sustainable development. Bishops, spouses, ecumenical partners and invited guests engaged in prayer stations around the Lambeth Palace gardens, hosted by Anglican Alliance staff and volunteers, and heard from speakers, including Antonio Guterres, the Secretary General of the United Nations, and Elizabeth Wathuti, a young climate activist from Kenya. In addition, this was the day the bishops and spouses first engaged with the Lambeth ‘call’ on the environment and sustainable development, which the Alliance helped draft.

Bishop Marinez Bassotto, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of the Amazon, speaking about the environmental threats to her region on the London Day, with Paulo Ueti interpreting. Image: Anglican Alliance/Elizabeth Perry

On the London Day, the Communion Forest was launched, an initiative which the Anglican Alliance has played a key role in developing alongside the Anglican Communion Environment Network and the Eco-Bishops. The Communion Forest is set to be one of the legacies of the 2022 Lambeth Conference – a lasting expression of the conference theme: ‘God’s Church for God’s World – walking, listening and witnessing together.’ The Communion Forest is a global initiative comprising local activities of forest protection, eco-system restoration and tree growing undertaken by provinces, dioceses and churches across the Anglican Communion to safeguard creation.

The launch of the Communion Forest. Image: Anglican Alliance/Elizabeth Perry

Speaking about the London Day, Joel Kelling, the Anglican Alliance’s Middle East facilitator, said, “It was an extraordinary privilege to be at the Lambeth Conference, but a particular joy to be involved in the London Day, which the Anglican Alliance had been so central to the planning of. Being able to stand or sit and pray with people at the prayer stations was wonderful. Seeing where those engaged in prayer were from, and knowing the injustices facing their communities, but belonging to a Communion and community that sees and acts in the unfolding presence of the Kingdom of God is amazing! That we can walk together in our differences is remarkable, and that the Alliance is able to be a part of the whole body that connects and glues it together for good is wonderful. Hurriedly refilling and redistributing the small pots of soil with Janice and Clifton, because so many wanted to symbolically pour it onto the first tree in the Communion Forest was both serving in, and experiencing the joy of, the Kingdom.”

Many bishops and spouses queued to add their pot of soil to the first tree in the Communion Forest. Image: Anglican Alliance/Elizabeth Perry

Paulo Ueti, the Anglican Alliance’s Theology Adviser and Latin America Director, delivered one of the addresses to the bishops during their retreat at Canterbury Cathedral. Paulo also participated in preparing key resources for the Lambeth Conference, including the Global Global Commentary on 1 Peter (the Scripture studied throughout the conference) and the guides for Ministry in a Conflicted World (a formational leadership series for bishops ahead of the conference). He and other Alliance staff helped facilitate the bishops’ and spouses’ online sessions which took place during the two years pre-Lambeth, following its delay due to Covid. Speaking of his experience of the Lambeth conference, Paulo said, “I had a wonderful experience of sharing, meeting people, learning and being challenged by the richness of what we can achieve together. The Lambeth Conference was an extraordinary opportunity to grow as a person and as a team. The presence of the Anglican Alliance team contributed to the success of many activities and the overall objective. We showed our capacity and our deep desire to keep ministering within the Communion, journeying together with the Five Marks of Mission. God reveals himself/herself through relationships and conflicts and we had lots of good experiences of God’s revelation and calling during these days together.

Clifton Nedd, the Alliance’s Caribbean facilitator, played a particularly significant role in assisting youth participation and focus at the Lambeth Conference. As well as mobilising steward applications and organising and staffing the Anglican Communion Youth Network stall, Clifton facilitated seminars on Youth Livelihoods and Missional Formation with Young People. Reflecting on the conference, Clifton said, “I am delighted that young people were given the opportunity not just to serve as stewards but to have a voice on the matters on the agenda by speaking in seminars and in plenary”.

Clifton (far right) with some of the young Anglicans who contributed to the Lambeth Conference. Image: Keira Phyo

Anglican Alliance staff were also busy around the Lambeth Conference site at the University of Kent in Canterbury: helping with the planning and delivery of several spouses’ sessions;  facilitating the Zoom Bible studies and Zoom call participation for those bishops who tested positive for Covid-19 during the conference, or who weren’t able to travel due to Covid-19; supporting and accompanying bishops; holding meetings with bishops and connecting with the fantastic stewards. Speaking of her time helping with the spouses’ programme, Janice Proud, the Anglican Alliance’s Disaster Response and Resilience Manager said, “As a new spouse at the conference in 2008, I really valued the spouses’ program for the fellowship, learning and strengthening it gave me as I started that ministry. I hope that the spouses’ strengthening program will have provided similar opportunities for spouses from around the Communion this year. Certainly, the spouses enjoyed the interactive facilitation as they were equipped with skills to take away and use in their contexts.” Janice added that, “It was also a real delight to connect with Francophone bishops and spouses and learn more about their situation and contexts. There are 4 million francophone Anglicans around the Communion who often feel isolated and unappreciated. It is great that the Lambeth Conference offered simultaneous translation in nine languages for the first time. The Anglican Alliance prioritises translation and interpretation to promote a culture of language inclusion”.

Tranquility in the Trees spouses’ session which the Alliance helped facilitate. Image: Anglican Alliance/Elizabeth Perry

Other members of the staff team were praying for the on-site team, supporting from afar.

Telling our story

As well as fulfilling the Anglican Alliance’s role of ‘connecting, equipping and inspiring the worldwide Anglican family to work for a world free of poverty and injustice and to safeguard creation’ by contributing to the conference’s activities, the Lambeth Conference provided an opportunity for the Alliance to tell its story, primarily through its stand in the resource centre. We were delighted that helping staff the stall were Della Wager Wells, a former intern and life-long companion of the Alliance; John Deane, a former trustee (Anglican Board of Mission, Australia); and Abagail Nelson, a current trustee (Episcopal Relief & Development).

A Ghanaian TV company took the opportunity to interview Joel Kelling at the stall about the Anglican Alliance. The film is here.

The Anglican Alliance’s stall was an interactive space where many conversations were held, old friendships renewed and new ones made. After two years of virtual meetings, face-to-face conversations were a wonderful blessing. Many people contributed to the stall’s backdrop, sharing how they have journeyed with the Alliance over the last decade and sharing their hopes for the future. It was also an opportunity to hear about the challenges people across the Communion are currently facing. Rapidly rising fuel and food prices, climate change and the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic were widespread and recurrent concerns.

Elizabeth Perry. the Anglican Alliance’s Communication and Advocacy Manager at the Anglican Alliance and Communion Forest stalls.

Speaking about the Anglican Alliance’s involvement in the Lambeth Conference, Revd Canon Rachel Carnegie, Executive Director, said, “It was so encouraging to see and share how far the Anglican Alliance has developed since it was first conceived at the 2008 Lambeth Conference and how far it is woven into the life and mission of the Communion. Bishops and spouses spoke of their connections over the years with the Alliance in working together to respond to human need, to speak out for justice and to safeguard creation. Through the Conference process we could clearly perceive the Anglican Alliance’s role in helping to connect and equip the Communion to live into the calling to be ‘God’s Church for God’s World’. The Lambeth Call on the Environment and Sustainable Development Call, as well as the launch of the Communion Forest and the outcomes of thematic seminars set an exciting and challenging agenda for the years ahead.”