Lambeth 2022 Day 10: ‘We don’t do religion, we do Christ’
The Lambeth Conference is currently taking place with Anglican bishops from throughout the Anglican Communion gathering in Canterbury. The once in a decade conference brings together bishops from across the globe for prayer and reflection, fellowship, and dialogue on church and world affairs. Archbishop Michael Jackson is attending and will report back to Dublin & Glendalough. Below is his report from Day 10 of Lambeth 2022.
Each day of the Lambeth Conference has been interesting in different ways and for different reasons. Today was no different.
The much persecuted Church in Pakistan led today’s opening worship.
The exposition of 1 Peter 5 by Archbishop Welby enabled us to explore at close range the roaring lion for which 1 Peter is renowned. The Primate of Kenya Dr Jackson Ole Sapit explained what it is to be a lion killer from his childhood experiences. Most interesting is that those who seek to kill the lion create chaos in which there is unity of purpose. He and the archbishop offered this as a functioning model of the church in the face of whatever constitutes the lion in our context.
The point was also well made that Peter uses the term elder and fellow–elder rather than bishop in his writings as a collaborative expression of episcopacy based in shared baptism and discipleship.
As part of our exploration of Intentional Discipleship, we heard Bishop Eleanor Sanderson, Wellington NZ, who spoke of initiatives that Wellington had needed to develop where there were no longer nominal church options left for a large number of people. It seemed to me to mirror our situation in slow motion and I hope that we can hear more from her and explore further with her what she has been pioneering when she moves to Hull in The Church of England. No longer nominal church options … the phrase has stuck with me.
She spoke also of narrow gate moments where the initial effort was really difficult but what opened up beyond was much more straightforward and how the journey could be the embrace of intentional discipleship. Having been the first diocese in the Church of Ireland to explore The Five Marks of Mission with intentionality, we are well placed to address head on the lure of what she referred to as ‘the shape of a normalized nominal church culture’.
In his Keynote Address on Living in the world as a Christian, Archbishop Welby spoke of how by God’s grace this week we have disagreed without hatred. He further spoke poignantly of the discovery earlier this year in Lambeth Palace Library of an early eighteenth century letter to ‘the Archbishop of London’ pleading to the archbishop to send people to teach the children of slaves; the letter seems not to have received a reply.
Reflecting on good relations in Mozambique and Tanzania where there are new things developing through the Anglican churches, to the surprize of UN Agencies, he made the bold and liberating statement: ‘We don’t do religion, we do Christ’.
Now that is a good note on which we might embark upon what I trust will be a very pleasant weekend both in church and out of church!