Church of England Newspaper front page: Lambeth invitations reviewed

The question of Lambeth Conference invitations will be reviewed by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Windsor Continuation Group (WCG), sources familiar with its deliberations tell The Church of England Newspaper. Chartered last month by the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, the WCG will take a second look at the decision not to extend invitations to the African-consecrated American bishops of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Nigeria, and may also discuss the question of Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire’s non-invitation.

Were Dr Williams to accept advice to broaden the Lambeth Conference invitation list, “that would change everything,” one global south leader told CEN, and prevent Lambeth from being a “bust.”

Dr Williams’ decision not to invite Bishop Martyn Minns of Cana and Bishop Chuck Murphy of the AMiA and their suffragans contributed to the decision by the Churches of Nigeria and Rwanda to decline the invitation to attend Lambeth. The Archbishop of Kenya has announced that he will not attend the July 16-Aug 3 conference after his two suffragans, Bishops Bill Atwood and Bill Murdoch, were overlooked by Lambeth. The Kenyan House of Bishops meets later this spring and will review its position at that time, sources in the Kenyan church tell CEN.

At its New Orleans meeting last year, the US House of Bishops asked Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to treat with Dr Williams, and find a way to bring Bishop Robinson to Lambeth. Acting on behalf of the presiding bishop, the bishops of Northern Indiana, Vermont and Wyoming spoke with Dr Williams’ aide, Mr Chris Smith and ACC Secretary General Canon Kenneth Kearon on five occasions. The three reported they had sought to find a way for Bishop Robinson to “have the opportunity to pray with other bishops at Lambeth,” to have an opportunity to “build relationships,” and that he be given a “voice at the table” during the discussions“on human sexuality.”

Their approach was unsuccessful and they reported that a “full invitation is not possible,” for the New Hampshire bishop. Nor would he be able to participate in the bishops’ retreat or study groups. While he could not be an “observer” at Lambeth, he was offered the opportunity by the organizing committee to be part of the Lambeth Marketplace””-a venue where vendors historically displayed their wares.

Bishop Robinson told the House of Bishops that he had declined the invitation to set up a stall amongst the haberdashers, prefacing his remarks by saying he was not “whining”, but the marketplace was a “non-offer” already available to him. The controversy had left him “dismayed and sick hearted,” he said. However, he would go independently of the invitation process as he had a duty to the…[young people he recently met]. “I will go to Lambeth remembering the 100 or so twenty-something’s I met in Hong Kong this fall, who meet every Sunday afternoon to worship and sing God’s praise in a secret catacomb of safety ”” because they can’t be gay and Christian in their own churches. I will be taking them to Lambeth with me,” he said.

The secretary to the Windsor Continuation Group, Canon Gregory Cameron declined to confirm or deny its agenda, telling the CEN that it had “decided not to make their work more public” at this stage of the proceedings. The WCG met last week in London, spending March 4 with the ACC-Primates Joint Standing Committee and March 5 with Dr Williams. Sources present at the joint standing committee meeting with the WCG note the issue of invitations was not raised.Canon James Rosenthal of the ACC noted that while he could not speak to the invitations issue, Dr Williams was doing everything in his power to see that as many bishops as possible could come to Lambeth.

Sources familiar with the deliberations of the WCG report the group will meet two more times and offer its recommendations to Dr Williams. The public brief of the group, which is chaired by the former Presiding Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Bishop Clive Handford, is to “contribute to the shared discernment of the bishops in strengthening the life and identity of the Anglican Communion.”

Finding a way of bringing those boycotting the Conference back into the life of the Communion is a priority, sources tell CEN, and that will include looking once again at the invitation question. While the WCG may recommend several courses of action to address the dysfunction within the Communion, the question of
”˜who comes to Lambeth?’ is for Dr Williams alone to decide, one global south primate noted.

–This article appears on the front page of the March 14, 2008 edition of the Church of England Newspaper

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12 comments on “Church of England Newspaper front page: Lambeth invitations reviewed

  1. Br. Michael says:

    The only way to cure this disfunction is the make real decisions. Why should anyone come it nothing is going to be decided?

  2. TomRightmyer says:

    While an invitation to all bishops of all Anglican provinces would not solve the problem of those who are not able in good conscience to attend with Bishop Robinson and his consecrators or with those bishops who allow same-sex blessings the voluntary decision of those American and Canadian bishops not to attend would open the way for all the other bishops to join in the conference. Any way this question is decided Lambeth 2009 will be less than complete.

  3. Ian+ says:

    All bishops should be invited. That’s how the ancient ecumenical councils convened. There’s no question as to which side the majority will fall on. But as TomRightmyer said above, it won’t solve the problem. For the Lambeth Conference has no communion-wide juridical authority, and even if it did, the New Religion would simply ignore it and dissemble in its heart.

  4. Choir Stall says:

    But Ian+,
    The ancient Councils invited ALL the bishops with the understanding that some would be corrected and removed if necessary. They didn’t study the Bible while ignoring attempts to diminish its value, sip tea, talk about 10,000 ways to re-word/avoid the Great Commission, and on, and on. They took the Lord’s plain words and moved. Lambeth is a fer piece from that.

  5. Brian from T19 says:

    Were Dr Williams to accept advice to broaden the Lambeth Conference invitation list, “that would change everything,” one global south leader told CEN, and prevent Lambeth from being a “bust.”

    That still doesn’t address the fact that consecrators of +Gene have been invited. So how does it change everything?

  6. Brian from T19 says:

    Besides, let’s be realistic here. We’re talking about a committee formed by Rowan Williams that he needs to (a) listen to and (b) make sure the work is completed before July.

  7. johnd says:

    Another trial balloon??

  8. Ross says:

    I wonder if the topic of +Schofield’s invitation would also be on the table?

  9. pendennis88 says:

    #5 asks a good question. Certainly, the preference of the global south has always been that the VGR consecrators be disinvited, in large part because that is what the Windsor report says should happen. Pace Road to Lambeth. But, try as they might, it rings hollow for the Archbishop, Fulcrum and others to plead for all invited bishops to attend Lambeth when so many orthodox bishops are not invited. Sure, one can make all kinds of technical arguments that these bishops are different kinds of bishops than those bishops. But that fools no one, it sounds like the results-oriented quibbling it is. Particularly when the Archbishop who originally set the technicality in questions has publicly suggested he should have come out the other way. If the ABC met the global south half-way by inviting the common cause bishops, I think it would be very hard for the global south not to attend, even with the VGR consecrators there. I think they would then say that under the changed facts, they would change their minds and come, at least one last time. They could see if it would further their orthodox mission and respond accordingly.

    But at this point, I think it very unlikely invitations would be broadened. It seems fairly clear that TEC is calling the shots and footing the bill. And the last thing TEC wants is for the ABC to do anything that will help the global south setting up competition in its backyard. I mean, if they will depose bishops like MacBurney and Cox for looking at them cross-wise, they will really pull out the stops to keep Williams from inviting Minns and Murphy. More likely Schofield, Iker and Duncan’s invitations will be pulled before that happens, in my opinion. I’d be delighted to be wrong, but I don’t know why one would anticipate otherwise.

    And so Williams would choose to have the communion fall apart.

  10. Bill Melnyk says:

    It’s simple. Invite every Bishop. Let those who decide anyway to boycott be responsible for their own decisions.

  11. Ian+ says:

    Yes to Bill Melnyk. That’s what I said above.
    re Choir Stall’s (4) response to mine (3), it’s like I said, they have no real authority. Besides that, they haven’t the will to do anything. It’s as if the leaders of the USA were to turn their backs on the Constitution. There would be anarchy (anybody watching “Jericho”?)

  12. dwstroudmd+ says:

    Good. Now that the HOB has shown their true “faith” perhaps the ABC can rescind the invitations of the “consecrators” of VGR who are obviously hell-bent on making their way the “Anglican” way. But, probably not.