By Bishop Todd Townshend
Following on the Lambeth Conference this summer, I am encouraged by many of the outcomes. Perhaps the best resource for us will prove to be the “Lambeth Calls”.
I commend them to you, and I hope that a study guide will be developed for us to use them more fully. These documents will be refined in a third stage of drafting but may be read in their current form at https://www.lambethconference.org/programme/lambeth-calls/
The question for us now is, how can these “calls” can be put into practice in our diocese? How do these calls enhance and enrich our Mission and Ministry plans? What follows is a very short summary of the calls for your prayer and study as we faithfully respond.
1. Mission and Evangelism
Each diocese and congregation is summoned to prayer and listening, guided by the Holy Spirit, to discern how to bear faithful witness to Christ and authentically proclaim the gospel in our time and place. Each Christian is encouraged to be such a positive witness to faith in Christ that at least one other person would come to faith and grow as a disciple. Local communities (congregations) are also summoned to be a light in the world, as Christ shines through their worship and common work in compelling ways.
2. Safe Church
That the safety of all people in the Anglican Communion be a highest priority. This includes establishing and sustaining standards for healthy and effective responses when there is abuse, good practices of pastoral ministry to avoid abuse, good processes for determining suitability for ministry leadership, and the development of a culture of safety in which abuse is eliminated. (Note: the Diocese of Huron is currently undergoing a comprehensive review of our Safe Church policy.)
3. Anglican Identity
That the Anglican Communion create opportunities to renew its Christian mission and celebrate its diversity. While the conference participants stepped back from making any changes to the structure and governance of the Anglican Communion itself, it affirmed the current understandings of our inherited traditions, commitment to the Scriptures, and common baptismal life and witness.
Anglicans worldwide are invited to join in practicing reconciliation; creating space for dialogue, listening, self-reflection, truth-telling, healing; and deconstructing the legacy of colonialism. The four “Instruments of Communion” (The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Lambeth Conference, The Anglican Consultative Council, The Primates’ Meeting) should raise the profile of existing funding streams and networks to support peace-building and justice in provinces experiencing major conflict. (Note: the Diocese of Huron has made Reconciliation a highest priority, especially in relation to Indigenous peoples.)
5. Human Dignity
Anglicans are called to protect the gift of human life and the dignity of all human beings and to affirm that acts and attitudes against the dignity of God’s children are sinful. God intends life-giving inter-cultural community.
We are summoned to resist unjust economic systems that unfairly disadvantage the world’s poorest communities. We recognize that prejudice on the basis of gender or sexuality threatens human dignity. The scriptures witness to the inherent dignity and equality of all human beings because all are made in the image of God. Indeed, it is God’s intent to curate the richness of the world’s cultures in the final and full revelation of God’s glorious redemption (Rev. 21:24). Therefore, the Church protects the dignity of all creation, cultures, and human beings.
6. Environment and Sustainable Development
That the Instruments of Communion should support commitments to urgently address climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution. Anglicans recognize these triple environmental crises, and commit to equipping communities to build resilience, ensure ethical investment, and call on world leaders to enact urgent policy changes. Anglicans are called to equip their churches to work together with neighbours for sustainable development goals.
7. Christian Unity
That Anglicans renew their commitment to search for the full visible unity of church and build strong ecumenical relationships to respond to the needs of the world.
8. Inter Faith Relations
The churches are encouraged to forge friendships with people of other faith traditions, modelling commitment to peace-making and the common good.
Churches have an urgent opportunity to work intentionally and creatively with people of all ages to foster learning and transformation for “whole-life discipleship”. Discipleship occupies a central place in the self-understanding of the church, and it can be a key element of all theological education and other learning programs.
10. Science and Faith
Anglicans recognize scientific inquiry as a God-given resource for living their faith and we recognize an opportunity to offer the wisdom of faith to guide the work of science.
The Anglican Communion Science Commission will be established to lead and focus work in this area. Seminaries and theological colleges are encouraged to embrace science in this manner along with all learning Christians – science is integral to the mission of the church and our role as citizens of the world.
(Photo: Neil Turner for The Lambeth Conference. Sunday, August 7, 2022)