The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on stage with representatives from a variety of churches and Christian communities who are attending the Lambeth Conference.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams Saturday welcomed representatives from a variety of churches and Christian communities who are attending the Lambeth Conference as ecumenical participants. The conference runs until Aug. 3 at the University of Kent.
“Dear friends, as we greet you, our ecumenical participants, in this event, not just guests but sharers in our work together. We pray that you will show us something of the depths of God in what you have to share with us,” said Archbishop Williams in a homily at an evening service.
Archbishop Williams, who leads a communion fractured by deep divisions over the place of homosexuals in the church, added, “We pray that you will provoke us further in that endless journey of love and discovery towards the perfection that we never arrive at or muster because there is always more of God’s love through Jesus Christ to encounter.”
Archbishop Williams, whose homily revolved around the theme of love, said the day’s scripture reading from the first letter of St. John “has something very clear to say to us as we reflect on the unity of Christians about our own unity as an Anglican family, about the unity we seek and pray for with Christian brothers and sisters of other confessions.”
“If we are not yet one as we hope and pray to be, perhaps it’s because we have not yet gone deep enough, because we have not yet together sunk into the bottomless well of God’s love and God’s promise.”
He said the reading illustrates that “the deeper into God we move, the deeper is our communion with our neighbour; the deeper our communion with our neighbour, the deeper our immersion into the bottomless well of God’s being. And the deeper we seek into the love of God, the closer we come also to the heart of every person made in God’s image…”
Archbishop Williams also noted that St. Gregory of Nyssa, who along with his sister St. Macrina is being commemorated in the Church of England calendar, also “illuminates” the first letter of St. John when he writes that Christian affection is defined “by saying it has no definition; that is to say, it has no limit, no end.”
In his homily, Archbishop Williams said that the conference had attracted “a generous ecumenical response.” (The Anglican Communion News Service said more than 75 ecumenical representatives are participating in the conference.)
At the end of the service, Archbishop Williams greeted each ecumenical representative, including the national bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), Susan Johnson, who was seated beside Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada. (The ELCIC and the Anglican Church of Canada have been in full communion since 2001, after more than 30 years of dialogue.)
The Anglican Communion has a long history of commitment to ecumenism and is presently involved in dialogues at the international level with the Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Old Catholic, Oriental Orthodox, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic churches.