Primates from 33 of the Anglican Communion’s 40 provinces met in Jordan Jan. 13-15 for the last full primates’ meeting before the 2020 Lambeth Conference of Bishops.
According to a communique issued from the meeting, the primates were “updated on plans for the [Lambeth Conference], both practical and programmatic. We discussed how the fruits of our discussions at the Lambeth Conference might be widely communicated and we explored how the bishops, gathered together in conference, might ‘invite’ the church and the world to join us as we collaborate in God’s mission of building God’s Church for God’s world.”
The communique also notes that the Archbishop of Canterbury set up a task group at the 2016 primates’ meeting to “look at how we might walk together despite the complexities we face.” The task group reported to the 2020 meeting, and its work was commended to the Lambeth Conference and Anglican Consultative Council, the communique says. “We recommend that a group be appointed to continue the work of the Task Group to explore how we live and work together in the light of the Lambeth Conference.” The communique also invites Anglican churches to “set apart the Fifth Sunday of Lent (29 March 2020) as a day to focus on the Prayers of Repentance produced by the Task Group.”
Controversy was stirred around the 2020 Lambeth Conference in February 2019, after Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby decided not to invite same-sex spouses to the conference.
The communique from the primates meeting stated that “as we gathered as Primates, we were acutely aware of the ongoing tensions within the Anglican Communion. However, we were also profoundly conscious of the Holy Spirit in our midst, drawing us to walk together.”
For the last several years, primates’ meetings have faced tensions around the issue of same-sex marriage. At the most recent meeting in 2017, “consequences” were imposed on the Scottish Episcopal Church for voting to allow same-sex marriage in church.
Three primates—Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria, Archbishop Laurent Mbanda of Rwanda and Archbishop Stanley Ntagali of Uganda—chose not to take part in the gathering.
Archbishop Linda Nicholls, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, attended a special orientation for new primates with Welby Jan. 12. “Hearing stories from around our Anglican Communion of needs, concerns, joys and hopes as I met colleagues at meals and breaks,” she wrote in a Facebook post.
The primates also met with King Abdullah II of Jordan and officials Jan. 13.
Archbishop Suheil Dawani hosted the meeting. Jordan is part of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalm, of which Dawani is bishop.
Other items on the meeting’s agenda included a report from the Safe Church Commission, the work of the Anglican Environmental Network, the work of the new Anglican Church Planting Commission and a discussion of the Inter-Anglican Budget.
The primates’ meeting is one of three instruments of communion in the Anglican Communion, along with the Anglican Consultative Council and the Lambeth Conference of bishops. This year’s Lambeth Conference will be held July 22-Aug. 2 at the University of Kent, Canterbury.