The Archbishop of Canterbury has announced that the next Lambeth Conference will be in the summer of 2022, following the postponement of this year’s scheduled event because of the coronavirus epidemic and global restrictions on travel and mass gatherings.
When postponement of this year’s gathering in Canterbury was announced in March, it was expected that the event would be rescheduled for the summer of 2021. That timetable has been revised by putting the conference back by a further 12 months.
This decision follows extensive consultation with various parties including the Anglican Primates.
The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church was part of that consultation and supports this decision.
Bishop Mark Strange said today: “The conference should only take place when we are confident that the majority of Provinces will be able to attend.”
Announcing the decision today, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who is convener of the Conference, said: “As with most large-scale events and conferences of this nature, planning in such an unstable climate is difficult. As an international gathering there are a significant number of uncertainties that make preparations for a 2021 meeting challenging.
“Whilst some lock down measures are starting to ease in some countries, social distancing measures, travel restrictions and quarantine measures could impede logistics and delegates’ travel planning for the foreseeable future.
“There are also the risks of a potential second wave of the virus and the reality that there are different phases in how the pandemic is spreading around the world – with no vaccine yet available that is something we have to take very seriously. The safety and health of conference delegates is of utmost priority.”
The Archbishop also indicated that there will be opportunities for conversations and debates to take place digitally in the lead up to the Conference. Bishop Mark supported that plan, saying: “The Scottish Episcopal Church will fully participate in the preliminary work of the bishops, just as we will enter into the life of the conference itself.”
The Lambeth Conference invites bishops from over 165 countries. The decennial meeting of bishops from all parts of the Anglican Communion was last held in 2008, and this year’s hosting had already been delayed by two years in a bid to maximise attendance.
All six members of the College of Bishops had been expected to represent the Scottish Episcopal Church at this year’s conference, which was expected to the biggest gathering in the event’s 153-year history.
The full announcement from the Lambeth Conference Company can be accessed here.