Same-sex spouses not invited to major Anglican Communion Bishops conference

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, gives thanks to the bishops who authored the Indaba reflections document.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, gives thanks to the bishops who authored the Indaba reflections document. | (Photo: ACNS / Gunn)

For a major gathering of bishops and their spouses scheduled for next year, the Anglican Communion has specifically not invited the same-sex spouses of some of their church leadership. 

In July and August 2020, Anglican bishops from across the globe will gather in Canterbury, United Kingdom for the Lambeth Conference.  

Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, explained in a blog entry published last week that while official invitations were sent out to all bishops, same-sex spouses are not invited to the conference. 

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“Invitations have been sent to every active bishop. That is how it should be – we are recognising that all those consecrated into the office of bishop should be able to attend,” wrote Idowu-Fearon. 

“But the invitation process has also needed to take account of the Anglican Communion’s position on marriage which is that it is the lifelong union of a man and a woman. That is the position as set out in Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference.”

Idowu-Fearon went on to state that as a result “it would be inappropriate for same-sex spouses to be invited to the conference.” 

“The Archbishop of Canterbury has had a series of private conversations by phone or by exchanges of letter with the few individuals to whom this applies,” continued Idowu-Fearon.

The first Lambeth Conference met in 1867, lasting four days with 76 bishops in attendance. Since then, the Conference has been held roughly once every ten years. 

The theme for the upcoming Conference is “God’s Church for God’s World: walking, listening and witnessing together.” 

“It will be a time of addressing hurts and concerns; of deepening existing relationships and building new ones; of grappling with issues that face the Church and the world,” said Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby in a statement posted to the Conference website.

“We will listen to each other; we will seek God’s wisdom to find ways to walk together; we will build each other up as leaders.” 

The Rt. Rev. Mary Glasspool, bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, is in a same-sex marriage and sent Archbishop Welby a two-page letter disagreeing with the decision. 

“When will the church accept to it the gift of the LGBTQ community?” she asked Welby, as reported by Episcopal News Service.

“Young people are watching us. If they haven’t written off all of Christianity for being homophobic, they do find The Episcopal Church inviting and inclusive."

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