Church Times: Small Number Left off Lambeth Conference invitation list

Invitations to the next Lambeth Conference were sent to nearly all the bishops in the Anglican Communion on Tuesday.

Three bishops known not to have been invited are the Bishop of New Hampshire, the Rt Revd Gene Robinson, a gay man living in a partnership; the Missionary Bishop consecrated in Virginia by Archbishop Akinola, the Rt Revd Martyn Minns; and the Bishop of Harare, the Rt Revd Nolbert Kunonga, a staunch supporter of Robert Mugabe.

None is named in the letter sent by Dr Williams with his invitations; but he writes: “There are currently one or two cases on which I am seeking further advice.” The names were confirmed by the secretary-general of the Anglican Communion, Canon Kenneth Kearon. A fourth bishop, so far unnamed, is also being investigated after questions about his consecration.

The invitations end speculation about whether a welcome would be extended to the bishops in the Episcopal Church in the United States, and the Anglican Church of Canada. Both Churches have key debates ahead about whether they will have a moratorium on gay consecrations and the blessing of gay couples. In 2005, archbishops in the Global South wrote to Dr Williams: “We do not see why you cannot warn [the US and Canada] that they will not be invited to Lambeth 2008 unless they truly repent.”

Anger among liberals about the exclusion of Bishop Robinson, however, means that the row is likely to continue. In a statement on Tuesday, the Bishop called the move “an affront to the entire Episcopal Church”.

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, Lambeth 2008

16 comments on “Church Times: Small Number Left off Lambeth Conference invitation list

  1. carol says:

    The Church of England Daily said in their May 23rd edition that the Bishop of Recife wasn’t invited either.
    then go to the bottom link and search for the 23rd. I haven’t seen anywhere where Bp Cavalcanti has since been invited, or am I missing something.

    I thought that the ABC requested that The Most Rev. Gregory Venables, Primate of the Southern Cone of America, extended protection to Bishop Cavalcanti and his clergy in their unprecedented excommunication.

  2. Dootz says:

    The Minns-Robinson exchange of chess pieces seems a purely political move and not a deft or clever one at that, but made out of weakness. To categorize Minns alongside Kunonga, to boot, in the Rolls of the Uninvited, is sheer insult.

  3. Hakkatan says:

    I do wish that Bp Minns had been invited — but are missionary bishops considered as bishops having jurisdiction? I think that Lambeth is generally only for bishops with jurisdiction. That might make a difference.

  4. Chazaq says:

    Hakkatan, according to the Lambeth Conference archives website,

    “Of the seventy-six bishops attending the first Lambeth Conference the distribution was the following: England 18, Ireland 5, Scotland 6, Colonial and missionary bishops 28, United States 19.”

    Not clear how many were “Colonial” and how many were “missionary bishops”, but it looks like there was a precedent from the very beginning of having missionary bishops invited to the Lambeth Conference.

  5. Dale Rye says:

    Re #3: Suffragan and assisting bishops have been invited sometimes in the past but the number of attendees has made the Conference difficult to accommodate, even on a college campus, and even more difficult to manage (the real work is done in committees, and even with just 800 bishops the committees must either be too large or too numerous to get their work done in the time allotted).

    As a result, it appears that only the bishops with jurisdiction have been invited for 2008. There are three exceptions: +New Hampshire, whose presence would make the Conference impossible; +Harare, who would morally compromise the Conference and who can’t get a UK or EU visa anyway; and +Recife, who has been deposed by his own province and received personally into another, but who can hardly be regarded as still having jurisdiction over a widely-recognized diocese in Brazil.

    Missionary bishops have historically been distinguished from diocesan bishops. A missionary district is not generally autonomous, but governed by the parent church. A missionary bishop is selected by the parent church, not the church in the missionary district, and jurisdiction remains with the parent. For example, most of what is now the Church of England Diocese of Europe used to be a missionary area under the supervision of the Bishop of Fulham, a suffragan in the Diocese of London. The Convocation of American Churches in Europe is still under a bishop in Paris who is actually a suffragan of the Presiding Bishop, like the American Bishop for Chaplains. The National Indigenous Bishop in Canada is a suffragan of the Primate. Missionary bishops elsewhere were similarly regarded as suffragans of an archbishop or diocesan bishop who actually held jurisdiction. When the English colonies established local dioceses with jurisdiction, their bishops were no longer regarded as part of the English bench of bishops and their clergy were not represented in Convocation.

    The Anglican District of Virginia looks a lot more like a traditional missionary district than a traditional diocese. Its bishop was selected by a parent church and he is regarded as a bishop in that church under the direction of its Primate. This is similar, if not identical, to the Anglican Mission in America’s relation to Rwanda and South East Asia.

  6. Dale Rye says:

    Re #4: Unfortunately, I have my copy of Abp. Davidson’s book on the early Lambeth Conferences elsewhere. My recollection is, however, that most of the “colonial and missionary” bishops were diocesan bishops with jurisdiction, including those from the self-governing Provinces of New Zealand, Canada, Rupert’s Land, and South Africa. The Bishop of Honolulu represented an autonomous Hawaiian Anglican church. “Thanks” to some hostile rulings from the Privy Council during the Colenso Affair, the non-provincial British bishops were also essentially autonomous, so they clearly exercised jurisdiction.

    The few American overseas bishops at the time were in independent countries like China, Liberia, and Japan; they, and the missionary bishops from districts in the American West, were invited to Lambeth although they were not diocesan bishops. However, without my book here I’m not sure that the 1867 invitations did not include all Anglican bishops, not just those with jurisdiction. At the time, there were very few suffragan bishops in England and none anywhere else in the Anglican world; American “Assistant Bishops” were usually coadjutors with the right of succession. George Cummins, founder of the Reformed Episcopal Church, for example, was Assistant Bishop of Kentucky because the diocesan was tied up with his duties as Presiding Bishop.

  7. Deja Vu says:

    The photograph of Gene Robinson used by the Church Times is striking — very unflattering with mouth wide open and waving his arm.
    This must have been an intentional editorial choice.

  8. BabyBlue says:

    It’s no accident that the Lambeth-Invite media event was staged the day after the first hearing of TEC’s lawsuit against the Virginia Churches at the Fairfax Court House.


  9. Simon Sarmiento says:

    Deja Vu
    If that picture was an editorial choice, then so was the wording of the editorial comment which is at
    which includes:

    To exclude him because he has scandalised others seems a dangerously arbitrary precedent.

    but you need to read the whole leader column, to get the flavour.

  10. alfonsoq says:

    I don’t know for certain the details on the Lambeth invitations, but I wish people would stop talking about “jurisdiction.” That is not a defining criteria for invitations, and may have never been if people think coadjutor bishops have jurisdiction. 1998 was the first time according to the Lambeth press releases, that assistant bishops: both coadjutor and suffragan, were invited.

    All bishop invitations have gone out in the “first wave” of invitations (with just a couple being reviewed). That first wave already included assistant bishops. The second wave has no new bishop invitations planned, but only “ecumenical partners” and “special guests.” That’s it.

  11. Deja Vu says:

    #9 Simon Sarmiento,
    I agree that the editorial is clearly pro Robinson.
    I don’t understand the photo accompanying the story. It seems to present Robinson as a big whiny baby. And they had to have had lots of photos.

  12. ruidh says:

    I thought that the ABC requested that The Most Rev. Gregory Venables, Primate of the Southern Cone of America, extended protection to Bishop Cavalcanti and his clergy in their unprecedented excommunication.

    I don’t know where you got that idea from. Bp. Cavalcante wasn’t excommunicated, he was deposed by his Province for participating in a confirmation in a US diocese without the permission of the ordinary. The ABC had no role in his unusual translation to Southern Cone.

  13. Hakkatan says:

    Thanks, Dale — very helpful information.

  14. Wilfred says:

    “Church Times: Small Number Left off Lambeth Conference invitation list”

    I haven’t received my invitation yet. I must be part of a very exclusive group.

  15. azusa says:

    Reminds me of the old headline: ‘Small earthquake in Chile. Not many killed.’

  16. john scholasticus says:

    In my day, the Oxford Mail was famously parochial. Hence the quip of a friend of mine that one day its headline would be: ‘Oxford man killed in nuclear holocaust’.