The 15th Lambeth Conference finished last week and was a unique experience for Tim and me. At the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, all the bishops of the 85 million strong Anglican Communion gather every 10 years or so for 2 weeks, to pray together, read Scripture, and discern the future direction of our global Christian family.
It has been wonderful to renew our friendship with Bishop Vithalis Yusuph from the Diocese of Biharamulo in Tanzania, make new friends from around the world, hear incredible stories of church planting and growth in the midst of scarce resources, and worship both in the glory of Canterbury Cathedral and in the conference center led by bishops from Pakistan, Ghana and Japan to name but a few. We made some important decisions about the need for our Anglican Communion to focus on forming disciples (not just converts!), facing head on the climate emergency and the rapid advances in science and technology, and be champions of the dignity of every human being regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and economic situation.
For me personally, what has been particularly inspiring and encouraging was meeting other bishops from around the world who serve amid great suffering and persecution. We met bishops who have to rebuild all their churches twice a year because of cyclones, who risk being set on fire by militants when preaching, fear pirates on rivers as they visit far-flung parishes, send their wives into hiding before they go to meet the President of their country and ask for change, and are planting trees to help combat soil erosion so their people can grow crops, all while staying faithful to Jesus of Nazareth who brings new life and hope to sinners like me and you.
Some of those people were in my daily Bible study group – from Madagascar, Mexico, South Sudan, the UK, and Kenya – and their spouses were in Tim’s daily Bible study group, and we counted it a singular privilege to read Scripture alongside them and pray with them.