Advent Letter sent by the Archbishop of Canterbury
Monday 5th December 2005The Archbishop announces the 2008 Lambeth Conference as "a sign of hope for our Communion and of trust in our Saviour, the Lord of the Church" in his Advent Letter to Primates of the Anglican Communion and Moderators of the United Churches.
As Advent begins, we are all summoned to reflect on what it is that we hope from God our Saviour. As the Greeks say to Philip in St John's gospel. 'We want Jesus', and this is bound to be at the heart of our Advent hope. We want to see Jesus in our own lives, forgiving, challenging, liberating, transfiguring. We want to see Jesus in our Church, reconciling, renewing. We want to see Jesus in our world, healing, feeding, overcoming fear.
In the life of the Anglican Communion, the Lambeth Conference is an opportunity for us to focus and deepen our hopes in all these ways. It should be a chance for individual Christian pastors to meet Jesus afresh, for our Church to be renewed in mission, for the world to hear good news. One purpose of this letter is to give formal notice of my intention to convene the next Lambeth Conference during 2008 and to seek your prayers and your collaboration in the work of preparation.
The Conference will be held at the University of Kent in Canterbury from Wednesday 16 July to Sunday 3 August, 2008. Formal Invitations will be issued closer to the time of the conference. Those invited will include stipendiary suffragan and stipendiary assistant bishops, as well as diocesans. Spouses will also be invited, and my wife Jane is co-ordinating the preparations for a concurrent Spouses' Conference.
The main focus I long to see at this Conference is the better equipping of bishops to fulfil their task as agents and enablers of mission, as co-workers with God's mission in Jesus Christ - following through the vision articulated at Lambeth 1998 and Lambeth 1988. The planning of the Conference will have this theme at its centre. What it involves will be very different for different parts of the globe. It is crucial that your concerns as local churches shape the way we do things. This letter is therefore an invitation to you to begin considering with colleagues in your province what you want from the Conference.
Sue Parks, who has a long record of work with the worldwide church through SPCK and CMS, has been appointed Conference Manager. She will be working with the Lambeth Conference Design Group, chaired by Archbishop Sir Ellison Pogo, in co-ordinating the visions and proposals that come in from you and others for the programme of the Conference. I am very grateful for the work the Design Group has done thus far in developing the theme for the Conference and look forward to their continued work in shaping the conference programme. Also working with the group is the Anglican Communion Secretary General, Canon Kenneth Kearon, who is Secretary to the Conference. From Lambeth Palace, Canon Andrew Norman and the Revd David Peck, who has recently joined us with a brief for international and development-related issues, will be actively involved. All of these will be glad to offer any help or advice they can give.
We hope that the Conference may make us better disciples. It will do this if it focuses our hearts and minds on Jesus in prayer and thinking together around God's Word, and then also directs us to the fuller expression of our faith in service and support for those who suffer most in the world.
I know that I am making this announcement at a point when our Communion is still in a state of much uncertainty and even division. But we shall only find God's way forward for us if we are prepared to listen together to him, and to return again and again to the fundamentals of our common faith. I announce the Lambeth Conference as a sign of hope for our Communion and of trust in our Saviour, the Lord of the Church. Please pray for those involved in the planning of the Conference, pray for each other; and please share with us your hopes for the meeting.
As we look together for the coming of Christ, may he bless you in all you do in his name.