The shape of the Lambeth Conference in 2008 was to have been decided at a key meeting in London last December, according to a report in England’s Church Times newspaper.
Eight primates, bishops and lay people from across the Anglican Communion, who make up the Lambeth design group, were scheduled to meet with Archbishop of Canterbury Dec. 6 to consider “radical changes to the conference, which could lower the chances of conflict,” Church Times reported.
Sue Parks, manager of the conference, said Archbishop Williams is already on record as saying he wants a “Lambeth-lite” that would have fewer resolutions. The design group was also considering doing away with preliminary regional meetings. If those meetings are dropped, the 2007 Primates’ Meeting will be one of the last chances to affect the agenda, as the Anglican Consultative Council does not meet until after the conference.
Ms. Parks encouraged Anglicans around the world to air their views about the upcoming Lambeth Conference at a new Web site, www.lambethconference.org.
Some Anglican leaders have suggested that the Archbishop of Canterbury should hold his ground on the Lambeth Conference and not be swayed by provinces and churches opposed to homosexuality, who have argued that the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA) should not be invited unless they “truly repent.”
Canon Andrew Deuchar, rector of All Saints’, Nottingham, and a former secretary for Anglican affairs at Lambeth, said that leaders across the Anglican Communion were not reflecting their people’s thoughts.
“I think the archbishop has got to stand firm,” said Mr. Deuchar. “People certainly don’t want a pope. They still believe in a worldwide Communion, with the Archbishop of Canterbury in an iconic role.”
Meanwhile, four primates have now disassociated themselves from a letter issued by some church leaders of the Global South last November that criticized the Archbishop of Canterbury, Church Times also reported.
Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi of Burundi was the latest of four primates listed among the 17 signatories as “present but had to leave before the final draft was circulated.” He has also confirmed that he did not sign the document.
The letter, which was released on the Internet before Archbishop Williams had seen it, questioned his leadership in the Anglican Communion. “We do not see why you cannot warn (ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada) now, based on the Windsor Report, and your own convictions about unity, that they will not be invited to Lambeth 2008 unless they truly repent,” the letter said.
The primates of the West Indies, the Southern Cone, and Jerusalem and the Middle East have also objected to the letter, saying they had not signed it.
Archbishop Williams’ written response to the letter, meanwhile, was pointed: “If this letter is a contribution to that process of debate, then it is to be welcomed, however robust. If it is an attempt to foreclose that debate, it would seem to serve very little purpose indeed.”