The Archbishop of Canterbury today wrote to all 37 Primates inviting them to attend a special Primates’ gathering in Canterbury to reflect and pray together concerning the future of the Anglican Communion.
The meeting, to be held in January 2016, would be an opportunity for Primates to discuss key issues face to face, including a review of the structures of the Anglican Communion and to decide together their approach to the next Lambeth Conference.
The agenda will be set by common agreement with all Primates encouraged to send in contributions. It is likely to include the issues of religiously-motivated violence, the protection of children and vulnerable adults, the environment and human sexuality.
Archbishop Justin Welby said: “I have suggested to all Primates that we need to consider recent developments but also look afresh at our ways of working as a Communion and especially as Primates, paying proper attention to developments in the past.
“Our way forward must respect the decisions of Lambeth 1998, and of the various Anglican Consultative Council and Primates’ meetings since then. It must also be a way forward, guided by the absolute imperative for the church to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, to make disciples and to worship and live in holiness, and recognising that the way in which proclamation happens and the pressures on us vary greatly between Provinces. We each live in a different context.
“The difference between our societies and cultures, as well as the speed of cultural change in much of the global north, tempts us to divide as Christians: when the command of scripture, the prayer of Jesus, the tradition of the church and our theological understanding urges unity. A 21st-century Anglican family must have space for deep disagreement, and even mutual criticism, so long as we are faithful to the revelation of Jesus Christ, together.
“We have no Anglican Pope. Our authority as a church is dispersed, and is ultimately found in Scripture, properly interpreted. In that light I long for us to meet together under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and to seek to find a way of enabling ourselves to set a course which permits us to focus on serving and loving each other, and above all on the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ.”
The proposed dates for the meeting are 11-16 January 2016.
The Archbishop of Canterbury will also extend an invitation to Archbishop Foley or his representative to be present for part of the time.