Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has been speaking of his excitement at the prospect of next month’s Primates’ Meeting.
Welby has invited primates and moderators from around the Anglican Communion to Canterbury for the October 2-6 meeting.
The gathering gives Anglican leaders an opportunity to discuss major issues within their provinces, broader topics affecting the whole Communion and more general global matters.
“I am greatly looking forward to the Primates meeting,” the archbishop told ACNS. “It’s an extraordinary feeling to have the leaders of all the provinces gathering together to pray, to encourage one another, to weep with one another, to celebrate with one another.”
The final agenda will be agreed by the primates themselves at the beginning of the meeting. But it is expected to include sessions on mission and evangelism; reconciliation and peace-building; climate change and environment; and migration and human trafficking.
This is the first time that the primates have met since their meeting and gathering in January 2016. In a video for ACNS, Welby described that as “one of the most memorable weeks of my life”, saying that it had been “demanding and extraordinary”.
The key thing that had emerged, he said, was the unanimous vote from those present to “walk together” even though that might be at a slight distance. A task group, set up after the last primates’ gathering to examine a range of issues including the restoration of relationships and the rebuilding of trust within the Communion, will present a preliminary report to next month’s meeting.
Welby spoke of there being an “energy in the room” when issues such as evangelism, the environment, war and peace and refugees had been discussed in 2016. He said he’d emerged from one meeting saying “this is why the Communion exists.”
Sixteen new primates have taken office since the last meeting. One of them, Archbishop Ezekiel Kondo, will be representing the newly-created province of Sudan. Welby said the presence of the new primates was particularly exciting. “There will be a whole lot of fresh energy and fresh excitement – and, no doubt, some tough questions … I think that’s going to be fabulous.”
A small number of primates have indicated that they won’t be attending, for a variety of reasons.
“We will miss those who are not there,” said Welby.
The archbishop urged the Communion around the world to pray for the meeting – that the primates would be caught by the Spirit, would find unity in Christ and be able to walk onwards together.