This year’s Lambeth Conference has been postponed until next year because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
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 in Canterbury, which was expected to the biggest gathering in the event’s 153-year history.
Announcing the decision to reschedule the event for the summer of 2021, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, convener of the Conference, said: “After much prayer and discussion, we have decided to postpone the Lambeth Conference until next year.
“Please pray for Anglicans around the world as they seek to provide spiritual and pastoral support during the coronavirus pandemic.”
Bishop Mark Strange, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, said: “The decision to postpone the Lambeth Conference until 2021 is one that recognises the universal spread of coronavirus and the need to remain at home during this time. It also acknowledges that bishops need to be free at this difficult time to focus on their ministry in the dioceses rather than being anxious about attending the Lambeth Conference.
“My prayer now is that the world gets better and when we meet in 2021 the Bishops of the whole Communion will come together to not only debate but also to rejoice at our healing.”
A statement from the conference organisers said: “This significant meeting of Anglican bishops and spouses will continue to be planned – with an exciting and engaging programme, being held in the same venue at the University of Kent and Canterbury Cathedral – just one year on.
“We recognise that this will be a significant disappointment for all those registered to attend. However, the health and safety of our event attendees is our utmost priority. In addition, the global travel restrictions and quarantine implications will present many people with huge challenges in their travel plans.
“We also recognise bishops and spouses attending the Lambeth Conference will be playing a vital leadership and pastoral role in their Provinces and dioceses as together the Anglican Communion seeks to respond to COVID-19 around the globe.”