Doing the Lambeth Walk

There are so very many words about and from the Lambeth Conference thus far that I hesitate to add more, so I will try to be brief and provide links to materials you can read if you choose. 

My reflections from Saturday are here: Facebook Post

The Lambeth Calls are here:  Lambeth Calls Document

The Archbishop of Canterbury distributed a letter prior to our discussion of the Call on Human Dignity. You can read his letter HERE

Bishop Jennifer Reddall with her Bible Study group

This photo is of my small group for the Bible Studies and Lambeth calls.  Many Episcopalians will recognize one member of the group: Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. There is also an Archbishop of a Global South province, along with bishops from Tanzania, South Sudan, Kenya, the Church of South India, Hong Kong, and (missing from the photo) the Archbishop of Perth, Australia, who was the other woman in the group until she came down with COVID yesterday morning. 

We have spent over 8 hours together so far, with another 5-6 to come, in deep conversation and listening. I think it’s fair to say that I have never in my life had conversations across so many theological and cultural divides. They are not easy, but they have been respectful. I have listened to experiences of “traditional” marriage, including many descriptions of male headship in the marriage (1 Peter 3:1-7 was one of our texts today). They have listened to my descriptions of LGBTQ+ marriages and egalitarian marriage with interest and in some cases open curiosity and a desire to learn more. 

We have also talked about responding to empire, colonialism in the church and world, repentance and reconciliation, and many other aspects of 1 Peter and the Lambeth Calls. I have heard stories about civil war and religious persecution. We have prayed together and shared our struggles towards living a life that is “holy”—and compared our differing understandings about what that word means to us. 

The phrase that has been most often used is “In my context….” 

As a process, the Lambeth Calls have been a disaster.  First, the late reception of the documents, only a week prior to the Conference, and the discovery of the “reaffirmation” of Lambeth 1.10 snuck in the call on Human Dignity, which had not been put there by the drafting group. Then once we arraigned we voted on the first one with electronic devices; voted on the second one by staying silent; and voted on the third by shouting “Yeah!” “Nay” or “Eeyore!” which meant “This call needs a lot more work, but is redeemable if that work happens.” 

All of these machinations caused needless pain and broken trust. But yesterday they finally scrapped the voting, which allowed the conversations on Reconciliation and Human Dignity to be just that: listening conversations for the building up of the Body of Christ. The Archbishop stated clearly and publicly that no Province in the Communion would be disciplined or sanctioned for the full inclusion of LGBTQ+ persons in sacramental life, and most of the room stood up and applauded. 

I do not know where this Conference—or indeed, the Anglican Communion—is going. But I do believe, despite press releases from the Global South to the contrary, that there is a new sense of walking together in faith among those attending Lambeth. It is not without suffering, particularly for those bishops whose same-sex spouses were not invited to attend; and I recognize that it has caused suffering for people around the communion and in our own diocese. I am sorry. 

There is much that I want to share that is better done in person or over zoom, so I am working with my staff to set up a time when that can happen for our diocese. 

4 comments on “Doing the Lambeth Walk”

  1. Thank you. +Jennifer for your. update. At least the number of female Bishops have increased. I am in Kootenay Dioces but as a snow bird attend Church of the Transfiguration, Mesa.

  2. Sounds like a fascinating process. So glad you are all still speaking to one another. My prayers continue that the Anglican Communion can continue to thrive and hopefully, to draw other denominations together to form a more perfect union. My dream is that some day all Christians will truly be one and seek to draw together other religions to recognize the one God of our expanding universe where I am certain other faithful species seek union as well.

  3. Thank you so much, Bishop Jennifer! It helped a great deal to have your personal updates regarding the conference. I am grateful you addressed the exclusion of LGBTQ + spouse and had conversations with those in your group about marriage equality and egalitarian marriages. Your transparency has helped me to appreciate that you our bishop!

  4. Thank you for speaking our truth and your truth at the Lambeth Conference. Each and every day I give thanks for our LGBTQ clergy and parishioners. Our parish is becoming more diverse, yet we continually have to explain how our God doesn’t discriminate. We are so
    proud to be a part of the beloved community that turns no one away.