While much attention has been given to how the world’s Anglican bishops have sought ways of mending relationships fractured by deep divisions over homosexuality, there were a host of other life and death global issues that preoccupied them.
The conference ended with a 42-page document, entitled Lambeth Indaba, Capturing Conversations and Reflections which they called a “narrative” that seeks to “describe our lived experiences and the open and honest discussions we have had together.”
In it, aside from addressing issues around human sexuality and unity, the bishops expressed their views on ecumenism, human and social justice, the environment, relations with other world religions, strengthening Anglican identity, and issued statements of solidarity to people around the world who are in situations of conflict.
Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, said that the conference had, as a whole, been “consistent” with the theme of equipping bishops as leaders in mission. “The mission of the church in the world was a really major focus, particularly in the first half of the conference,” he said in an interview with the Anglican Journal. “We talked about everything from evangelism to our work with other churches to things like the Millennium Development Goals.” On the environment, the bishops noted that the stories that they have shared with one another “give a picture of a global crisis.” They noted that environment is “the top priority for some provinces and must be a high priority for all of us.” In developing countries and among indigenous peoples, notably the Arctic, “safeguarding creation is a day to day activity, not an intellectual exercise.”
[pullquote]Bishops of the Anglican Communion “should take a leading role by example, modeling a simpler lifestyle, using a carbon offset for meeting travel, or traveling less,” the Reflections document said.
Addressing human and social justice issues, the bishops said that “the violence meted out to women and children within the body of Christ is violence done to the body of Christ.” They reiterated their commitment to push governments to meet their commitment to the UN Millennium Development Goals, including halving poverty by 2015.
On ecumenism, the bishops reaffirmed the Communion’s commitment to “the full visible unity of the church,” and noted that this “strong desire” received “physical expression” at this conference.
The statements of solidarity include:
- A call for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe “to stop harassing the bishops and the faithful of our church.”
- A “strong support” for bishops who are working in “extreme and trying conditions” in Africa, including those who address “dehumanizing conditions” in Sudan, xenophobic violence in South Africa and conflict in Zimbabwe.
- An expression of support for the reunification of the Korean peninsula for establishing permanent peace in North East Asia, and for Nippon Sei Ko Kai (The Anglican Communion in Japan), “which is leading a peace movement for protecting the Peace Constitution for settlement of peace in Northeast Asia.”
- Support for Australia’s indigenous peoples, both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. “We applaud the apology made by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and acknowledge that the journey towards reconciliation has only just begun, particularly in relation to remote aboriginal communities in Australia.”