jQuery Slider

You are here

Archbishop Welby Mourns the Missing Nigeria, Uganda and Rwanda Bishops

Archbishop Welby Mourns the Missing Nigeria, Uganda and Rwanda Bishops

By Mary Ann Mueller
VOL Special Correspondent
August 7, 2022

Lambeth Conference held its final news conference of the 12-day event Friday (Aug. 5) afternoon.

Answering a wide range of questions from journalists were: the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby of England; the newly-elected Americas regional primate for the Primates' Meeting Archbishop Linda Nicholls of Canada; the Vice Chair of the Anglican Communion Standing Committee Canon Maggie Swinson of England; the Archbishop of Southern Africa & Chair of the Lambeth Conference Design Group Thabo Makgoba of South Africa; and the Anglican Communion Secretary General-designate Bishop Anthony Poggo of South Sudan.

This reporter was privileged to be able to ask a question.

The two-part question I asked was: What is the greatest achievement of this Lambeth Conference; and what has been its greatest failing?

Here are the responses from all five news conference participants.

++NICHOLLS: I think the greatest achievement has been to be able to name where we are at this moment and bring us together in a way that could address all of the variety of Calls that are there and to give everyone something they can go home with and to work on in their context and to be able to be brought back to the Anglican Consultative Council, to the Primates' Meeting, and to future conversations with others. And the relationships that can build partnerships and bridges across that.

The greatest failing would be around "process." We've had some real struggles around process, around how do we express ourselves when we are in a nonjuridicial body where the Resolutions -- if you were to make Resolutions and vote on them, you can't do anything with them?

They have to be owned by the people in the room and how do you assess that ownership? I think various attempts were made and some of them were better than others. And I do think that was a point that caused some significant frustration early on. I think there was some resolution of that, and I look forward to hearing how the responses to the Lambeth Calls will be brought back to the bishops.

++MAKGOBA: I think for me the greatest achievement was that we wrestled together to be God's Church and some of the Calls were urgent in God's world. And we brought Scripture to bear on those contextual issues. We wrestled together in Bible study groups, we worshipped together, we ate together. So, we modeled what Christian communities ought to look like.

The greatest failing also lies in our strength; the ecclesial complexity of structure so that the Lambeth Conference is a "Lambeth conference." It's frustrating and it frustrates a lot of people because they want to legislate on some of those Calls. We don't do that, it's not about that.

Our failing is our complexity of our structure and that is who we are, so we need to press on. Most bishops, as a last point, it was interesting, when we debated a review of the Instruments of Communion and they said "No!" So basically, we have arrived, warts and all as we are.

+POGGO: For me it was that we could meet that was important. You know with the pandemic, with all the other considerations, we didn't know if we could actually meet, but the fact we could meet, by itself is a success.

CANON SWINSON: The greatest achievement was that we are here and we have done remarkably well to keep ourselves as safe as we have done while we have been here.

I share those frustrations around the process issues, but those are going to be inevitable when you are a body which is not a decision-making body. In a sense, that goes with the territory.

But being here, being together and leaving here together, and that is a great achievement to me.

+++WELBY: I agree with everything that has been said and I could pick a half a dozen. Our greatest success is the number of people who came online and in person, with the runup for the past 18 months, was significant and we were able to meet, and that success showed itself.

For me, one of the most extraordinary moments, was when I was speaking last night, and I don't know what triggered it, but I was looking out across the room, so I went completely off script, so I said, a very unEnglished comment -- the correct comment would be "I don't think you're bad lot of folk" -- but I said: "My heart is full of love for the people here."

The success was getting these people here of such diversity -- and this is not a second thing, it's a part of the same thing -- I think for me it was the rigorous engagement with Scripture. It was a rigorous, absolutely painstaking engagement with Scripture, both of the run up and above all in the Bible study groups, and that was just wonderful.

For me the greatest failure, nobody said it, but I suppose I feel a sense of failure that I was not able to give sufficient encouragement and comfort and assurance to Nigeria, Uganda, and Rwanda. They were in my heart and not a day or session went by without me missing them and regretting their absence.

And that's not a case of numbers, it's just that they would have brought so much. They would have been a powerful and wonderful presence. I am so sorry.

Mary Ann Mueller is a journalist living in Texas. She is a regular contributor to VirtueOnline

Get a bi-weekly summary of Anglican news from around the world.
comments powered by Disqus
Trinity School for Ministry
Go To Top