Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Archbishop of Canterbury Reflects on Lambeth Conference

Rowan Williams offers his thoughts on the history and purpose of the Lambeth Conference, including the upcoming meeting July 16 thru August 4. Here's part of the transcript:

"At the heart of the whole Anglican Communion is relationship. We have never been a body that is bound together by firm and precise rules and that is often, as it is at the moment, a matter of some real concern and some confusion in our life as a communion.

"We don't want at the Lambeth Conference to be creating a lot of new rules but we do obviously need to strengthen our relationships and we need to put those relationships on another footing, slightly firmer footing, where we have promised to one another that this is how we will conduct our life together. And it is in that light that at this year we are discussing together the proposal for what we are calling a covenant between the Anglican Churches of the world. A covenant. A relationship of promise. We undertake that this is how we will relate to one another; that when these problems occur, that this is how we will handle them together, that this is how advice will be given and shared and that this is how decisions and discernment can be taken forward.

"That is a very a big part of what we will be looking at this year but it is not everything because no covenant, no arrangement of that sort is worth the paper it is written on if it doesn't grow out of the relationships that are built as people pray together and share their lives together over tow and a half weeks. And to try and underline, we have also decided that this year we are going to begin the Lambeth Conference with a couple of days of retreat, of quiet prayer and reflection. There will be addresses. There will be a lot of open space and open time where people can just be alone with God, to think deeply about what they want from the conference and perhaps have the opportunity to talk quietly with one of two others about their hopes and fears.

"What I would really most like to see in this years Lambeth Conference is the sense that this is essentially a spiritual encounter. A time when people are encountering God as they encounter one another, a time when people will feel that their life of prayer and witness is being deepened and their resources are being stretched. Not a time when we are being besieged by problems that need to be solved and statements that need to be finalised, but a time when people feel that they are growing in their ministry."

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