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2020 Lambeth Conference theme: "God's Church for God's World: walking, listening and witnessing together"

2020 Lambeth Conference theme: "God's Church for God's World: walking, listening and witnessing together"


By David W. Virtue, DD
March 19, 2018

The theme for the Lambeth Conference in 2020 we are told is, "God's Church for God's World: walking, listening and witnessing together." Certainly, a long enough title. A better title might be; "Who will Come; Does it really matter and will anything change?"

The 10-yearly Lambeth Conference will take place from July 24 to August 3, 2020 at the University of Kent in Canterbury. It will be my third (and last) Lambeth Conference.

Originally scheduled for this summer, the conference was postponed by two years amid reports that Welby would not call the meeting until he was confident most, if not all, the key figures would consent to come. They still haven't.

More than 900 bishops from around the world will be invited to attend, along with their spouses, says an official press release. Based on previous conferences, fully a third will be TEC and ACoC bishops, another third will be CofE, Scottish, Irish and Welsh bishops and the remaining third will be from the Global South including NZ, Australia, South America and Southeast Asia. It will be a liberal gabfest minus evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics.

Notably absent will be Nigeria, the largest Anglican province, all its archbishops and bishops representing 25 million Anglicans, and archbishops and bishops from Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya, nearly all the GAFCON archbishops with perhaps one or two like Burundi, who will attend (all expenses paid of course) with the promise of meeting the Queen at a Palace Garden Party with visits to Fortnum and Mason and other clothing and watering holes to load up on goodies to take back home. Fortunately, there won't be any racist rants from former Newark Bishop John Shelby Spong about how backward African evangelicals are, a merciful exclusion.

Fully seventy to eighty percent of the Anglican Communion's laity will not be represented at the 2020 Lambeth conference.

Note the following players.

The Lambeth Design Group is being chaired by the liberal Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Rev. Thabo Makgoba, the only African province that is declining in numbers because it has imbibed the theology and morals of its foremost paymaster, the American Episcopal Church.

Somebody called Phil George is the Lambeth Conference CEO, who took up his post last September and is now building his staff team. He worked for 26 years in corporate banking.

There are three token evangelicals in the persons of Bishop George Sumner from the Diocese of Dallas; the Bishop of Sabah, Melter Jiki Tais, from the Province of South East Asia; and Bishop Joel Waweru Mwangi from the Diocese of Nairobi in the Anglican Church of Kenya. They will effectively change nothing in terms of the direction of the conference.

Progressive Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, recently returned from a visit with Justin Welby, discussed, among other things, preparations for the Lambeth Conference and said that issues such as climate change, human trafficking, poverty and peace in the Middle East are among those that will "loom large" at the conference. Of course, no one will really disagree on much of these social issues and Welby can raise holy hands to heaven and declaim how we humans are destroying Planet Earth and offer mea culpas about how 900 bishops increased their carbon footprint getting there.

Another issue is same-sex marriage, which was discussed at the recent meeting of the primates in October, during which consequences were imposed on the Scottish Episcopal Church for voting earlier this year to allow same-sex marriage in church. In response, GAFCON primates ordained a bishop for Europe and Scotland, infuriating Welby.

So, Lambeth will discuss, but not vote on same-sex marriage, because Welby will claim the Conference has no binding power (unlike Rome) to enforce resolutions on individual provinces to conform and therefore they cannot be disciplined. If Welby thinks that words like "generous orthodoxy", "good disagreement" and "walking together" will soothe GAFCON feelings, he is grossly mistaken. They are not buying it for even a moment. Nigerian Archbishop and GAFCON chairman Nicholas Okoh has made that perfectly clear in more than one GAFCON monthly letter.

Then Hiltz said this, in a dead giveaway statement; "The challenge will be to 'contain' the conversation: "Not to shut it down, but to contain it in such a way that it doesn't take over the conference, that it doesn't dominate everything and filter through every other conversation."

Hiltz added that both Welby and Archbishop Makgoba stated a desire at the Primates' Meeting that these conversations would not "reopen...a huge discussion on the nature of marriage." However, Hiltz concedes this is "a tall order."

Of course, it is a "tall order." Hiltz and Makgoba are progressive Anglicans, the worst of the worst compromising liberals who are watching their provinces descend into oblivion and they think they can get these past African evangelicals who are watching their provinces expand with evangelical revival!

"How we give due respect...to theological perspective, to cultural perspective, to political and legal perspective--within the diversity of our world and the churches within the Anglican Communion, the majority of which are national churches--it's going to be a huge challenge."

Really! No challenge at all. All they have to do is recall Lambeth Resolution 1:10 of 1998...a no brainer.

Hiltz says that he senses a "yearning" within the church, and the wider Communion, "for us to find a way to live with our differences" in a respectful and gracious way. "That's where the church needs to be moving. I think gone are the days when we spend huge amounts of time trying to convince the other of the truth we hold."

Nonsense. There is no "yearning" at all. The GAFCON primates have stated explicitly what they think and believe and they are not prepared to compromise one inch or six inches to satisfy Western pansexual liberals or the Anglican Consultative Council led by Nigerian bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon. Not now, not ever.

While the 1998 Lambeth Conference passed a number of resolutions, some controversial, the 2008 conference passed none, he notes. "We kind of went from one extreme to the other," says Hiltz. He adds that, "given some of the really important topics we're going to be engaged in conversation about, it might be very appropriate that a resolution comes out of those conversations."

Nothing will change. Real Anglican players like Nigeria, ACNA, GAFCON primates et al will not be present and their absence will be the elephant in the room. They will continue to grow even as Western pan Anglican provinces shrivel and die. The Lambeth conference 2020 will be a bust.


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