Schedule Announced for Key Global Anglican Gathering

The Archbishop of Canterbury announced official dates for the upcoming Lambeth Conference, Anglicanism’s largest gathering held once every ten years.

Archbishop Rowan Williams, who announced the conference dates in an Advent letter to the 38 primates around the world, described the gathering as an opportunity for “individual Christian pastors to meet Jesus afresh, for our Church to be renewed in mission, for the world to hear good news."

The summer 2008 meeting will mark a turning point for a worldwide communion deeply torn over the issue of homosexuality. Earlier this year, the Primates (or head bishops) of the communion excluded the U.S. Episcopal Church and the Canadian Anglican church from key cooperating bodies in the time leading up to the decennial conference.

The North American churches were also called to give an explanation for controversial decisions they took in 2003 – the U.S. church ordained an active homosexual bishop, while the Canadian Church allowed for gay-marriage blessings – as they “consider their place within the Anglican Communion.”

The Lambeth Conference also marks a pivotal point for Canterbury, whose leadership has been challenged by global south leaders that disagree with his cautious approach to the issue.

Archbishop Ellison Pogo of the Anglican Church of Malenesia, who was appointed by Williams to lead the Design Group responsible for organizing the 2008 conference, said he hopes Canterbury’s non-confrontational method may carry through the event.

"We are working very hard to orient the Conference around God's mission of transformation and reconciliation, seeing the bishops themselves as primary resources in this task, Archbishop Pogo said. “… In keeping with Archbishop Rowan's vision, the Conference process will be relational not confrontation in its approach with a minimum of resolutions."

The two-week Lambeth Conference is slated for July 16 to Aug. 3, 2008. The eight-member Lambeth Design Group held its last meeting from Dec. 6 – 9, 2005; its next meeting is slated for April 2006.