Paying attention to power in Lambeth ‘Calls’

Andrew Goddard writes: Among the Pastoral Principles for Living Well Together developed by the Church of England and commended by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the College of Bishops is “Pay Attention to Power”. Applying this to the Lambeth Calls process raises important and worrying questions.

The Gestation of “Invitations” 

The Lambeth Conference would, if it followed the standard ten-year pattern, have occurred in 2018. For various reasons it was instead originally planned for 2020 but then had to be postponed until 2022 due to Covid.  The agenda for it was shaped by “regional Primates’ Meetings during 2018 and 2019” and overseen by the Lambeth Design Group. Once moved to 2022, the planning shifted to a small working group “appointed to shape the conference journey, comprised by representatives from around the communion”.

In January 2020 at the last in-person Primates’ meeting before Covid hit, it became clear that the plan was developing for “invitations” to be issued by the Conference:

We discussed how the fruits of our discussions at the Lambeth Conference might be widely communicated and we explored how the bishops, gathered together in conference, might ‘invite’ the church and the world to join us as we collaborate in God’s mission of building God’s Church for God’s World.

The following month, February 2020, it was announced that

a special communication or invitation process is being developed for the Lambeth Conference in 2020, so that bishops can engage with conference topics before and during the event. At the conclusion of the Lambeth Conference, the aspiration is for the bishops’ shared engagement to culminate in a series of invitations to the wider Anglican Communion, championing what it might mean to be ‘God’s Church for God’s World’ in the decade ahead.

As I noted when exploring the announcement to issue Calls, the seeds of this idea may perhaps be traced even earlier to a paper (“Towards A Symphony of Instruments: A Historical and Theological Consideration of the Instruments of Communion of the Anglican Communion”) produced by IASCUFO for ACC back in 2013. The original Conference date of 2020, the centenary of the 1920 Conference and its famous Appeal, may also have contributed to a desire to shape the voice of the Conference to be more “invitational” in form.

In November 2020 the Primates’ communiqué spoke of the ongoing plans and the development of a Lambeth journey in preparation for and following the Conference itself but did not refer to the invitations:

The Archbishop of Canterbury shared his renewed vision for the Lambeth Conference. This will take place in 2022, around it will be a gathering online both before and after to build up the sense of the whole body of Christ. We welcome the plan for an 18-month pre-conference phase as a virtual Anglican Congress, drawing in bishops and spouses, young and old, lay and ordained; ahead of the face-to-face conference and the following implementation phase involving everybody in the Communion, working together to be God’s Church in God’s World; while recognising that the Lambeth Conference itself – one of our four Instruments of Communion – will be the face-to-face meeting of bishops.

The November 2021 communiqué and March 2022 communiqué similarly did not refer to the proposed Invitations. Nor were they mentioned in the Archbishop’s video message of late January 2022 although the description of the Phases of the conference in April 2021 had said “the conference community will seek to discern God’s voice for his Church and agree some common commitments to share with the Anglican Communion” and an update of October 2021 had included these words (italics added) explaining the three stages then planned with the invitations seemingly located more in the third post-Conference phase:

This current ‘listening together’ phase has consisted of a series of online ‘Bishops’ Conversations’ – group discussions between bishops across provinces – to prepare for the face-to-face conference. Bishops’ spouses have also been meeting for online discussions.

When the Lambeth Conference meets in Canterbury, it will be the second phase of the journey, with the focus of ‘walking together.’ It will take place between the 27th of July and the 7th of August 2022.

After the conference has met in 2022, there will then be a third ‘witnessing together’ phase. This will involve online follow-up work continuing for at least the next two years. Our prayer is that following on from the event, further discussions will result in a series of ‘Lambeth Conference invitations to act’, to ensure that its conclusions are owned and shared all around the Communion

This will provide a continuity to Bishops’ Conversations and ensure that common commitments discussed at the conference are taken forward around the Anglican Communion. 

That October 2021 update also listed seven “clear themes” it said the Conference would focus on which are similar to but not the same as those now appearing in the Calls.  By that time the first stage (announced in April 2021) was already well underway having begun in July 2021.  This consisted of Bishops’ Conversations (videos explaining this are here, video 2 on “What are Bishops’ Conversations & how did they come about?” makes no mention of them feeding into invitations or calls for the Conference).  These were reported on the website with reports for most months (July, August, September, October) but there is no obvious linkage to any planned invitations or to the calls which subsequently appeared.

The Birth of the Calls

On 8th June, just seven weeks before the Conference, the Archbishop of Canterbury announced there would be Lambeth Calls by releasing a video and a booklet.  There were limited details given but some of the descriptions are interesting in the light of what the Calls have become in practice less than two months later.

The impression is strongly given that the final form of the Calls will arise from the bishops themselves gathered in the Conference itself.  This is evident in all three forms of communication.

The webpage reads (italics added):

The term ‘Lambeth Calls’ is being used for the bishops’ discussions at the conference, and papers which are shared by the bishops during the event to summarise the outcomes of their conversations. “Lambeth Calls” will be short written statements, that include declarations, affirmations and common ‘calls’ to the church and the world that the bishops want to make.

The Archbishop says in the video posted there:

Lambeth Conferences are there to come together and to discern what God is saying to the church… to be absolutely clear about that, and to emphasise the Lambeth Conference is a beautiful, exciting moment of hearing God’s call to us, the Lambeth Conference in 2022 is going to make decisions, but it’s going to make them in the form of what are called “Calls”… during the conference there’ll be a process of these calls. There aren’t going to be a huge number of them, ten or a dozen at most, and each one will be carefully structured to talk about scripture, about the tradition of the church, and what the bishops assembled feel to be the way that God is calling them…I think it’s a hugely exciting development in the life of the communion. It’s humble. It says, we offer this to you as what we think God is calling us to.

The booklet states (italics added):

The Archbishop of Canterbury has decided that the bishops gathered should adopt a process called ‘Lambeth Calls’ to shape discussions and make decisions…On each theme, the bishops will spend time learning together and sharing their experiences. They will also have a document to consider on each major theme….Within each ‘Call’ there will be matters to discuss and decisions to be made. It may be that not all bishops will want to add their voices to every element of every call. As has always been the case at every Lambeth conference bishops will confer together but they will not necessarily agree on everything. Each ‘Call’ is being drafted by a group made up of bishops, clergy and laity from around the communion led by a Primate or senior bishop. The intention is to make public each of the ‘Calls’ from the conference and to ensure that there is a process by which the outcomes included in each ‘Call’ can be received and implemented… A call is a decision of the conference which comes as an appeal to each church of the Communion to consider carefully, and hopefully to follow it and respond to it in its own situation (p6).

At the conference bishops will be asked to make decisions as part of each ‘Call’ and invited to add their voices to the call of the conference…For the times we live in, the bishops of the Communion are invited to discern the call of God to God’s Church and to God’s world (p7).

The changing content of web pages makes it difficult to reconstruct how things then unfolded but by June 14th, more information was provided. This continues to speak of the role of the Conference itself in answering the question as to the features of a Lambeth Call (italics added):

During the Lambeth Conference, there will be several Lambeth Call discussion sessions, where bishops will be able to share their thinking and experience. Outcomes of the discussions will then be shared as a written ‘Lambeth Call’….Within each ‘Call’ there will be matters to discuss and decisions to be made. It may be that not all bishops will want to add their voices to every element of every call. As has always been the case at every Lambeth Conference bishops will confer together but they will not necessarily agree on everything. Each ‘call’ is being drafted by a group made up of bishops, clergy and laity from around the communion led by a Primate or senior bishop. They will be discussed and shaped further during the Lambeth Conference.

It was not until 18th July, over a month later, and just over a week before the Conference started on 26th July, that still  further information was provided.  This was in the form of a 52-page Lambeth Calls Study Document. This, it was explained, was the work of “the Calls Subgroup” coordinated by Bishop Tim Thornton (a group whose existence had not, as far as I am aware, previously been acknowledged). He continued to talk of the shaping role of the Conference:

The Study Documents provides bishops with an opportunity to start to read, think, reflect and pray on the different Lambeth Calls that have been drafted. Each Lambeth Call is being offered as a draft in advance, to maximise the time bishops will have to discuss them during the Lambeth Conference. The work of the Conference will give bishops attending the opportunity to contribute and add their voice to the calls.

Those wishing to find this original document on the conference website will struggle to do so as the “Read the Study Guide sent to bishops here” now simply redirects you to the page you are already on thus subjecting you to an infinite loop.  However, the document is still able to be tracked down where it was originally posted here. 

The Study Guide gives a small amount of information about the drafting process under the oversight of the Lambeth Calls Sub-Group “made up of Bishop Tim Thornton, Archbishop Melter Tais, Bishop Joseph Galgalo, the Revd Robert Heaney, the Revd Cathrine Ngangira, the Revd Will Adam and the Revd Stephen Spencer” (p4) but no details as to the “over 50 people…involved in the drafting and writing of the Calls” nor who decided on these themes for the calls. Given there are 10 groups this would suggest that only about 5 or 6 people were on each group. It was soon noted that all the Chairs were male and that the number based in the UK was rather disproportionate. In his message about them on July 22nd, the Archbishop of Canterbury was at pains to point out that “They have been drafted by a diverse group of Anglicans – male and female, lay and ordained, from different generations and from every part of the Communion”.

The study guide sketches on p5 how bishops would “approve Lambeth Calls”:

The Lambeth Call session will go through the Call section by section. At each section there will be a chance for each Bishop to indicate their view.

This appears to suggest 3 or 4 votes on each Call as earlier (p3) the guide described the structure as comprising a link with 1 Peter, declaration, affirmation and specific calls or requests.

Controversially, although it spoke of being able “to express their level of support of a call”, it then said “there will be two choices for each bishop to make” and neither of these gave space for substantial disagreement:

  • This Call speaks for me. I add my voice to it and commit myself to take the action I can to implement it.
  • This Call requires further discernment. I commit my voice to the ongoing process

The lack of any mention of amendments and this binary choice could suggest it was “take it or leave it” but the “How to use” section for each call ends with the stated goal that “the conference decides whether to adopt or adapt the Call” (italics added, this statement therefore appears eleven times starting on p8). It also states (italics added)

During the Calls session there will be time for discussion and clarification of the Call. The lead author and drafting groups will be present to answer questions if needed. The aim in each session will be to consider if the Call can be issued publicly or not.

The clear implication was also that if the Call was issued publicly that was the end of forming the Call as phase 3 was described as “the post-event period, focused on ensuring that decisions are shared and implemented by provinces, churches, groups, commissions, and networks around the Anglican Communion”.

Revising the Calls

Unsurprisingly, the release of the Study Guide and text of the Calls only a week before the start of the Conference (with many bishops having to travel a considerable distance and ensure all was in order in their diocese for their time away) caused some controversy. The document also showed a number of signs of having been hurriedly prepared (including concerns that it included a heretical statement concerning the Trinity) and, although no detail was given as to the drafting period, Bishop Kevin Robertson subsequently spoke on Newsnight of the Human Dignity group working as a small drafting group in May and June. This makes clear that despite the idea of what were then called “invitations” going back to early 2020 the actual texts were not created until over two years later and just two months before the Conference started. The secrecy surrounding their content was also evident by the fact that, after controversy erupted over the Human Dignity call seeking to reaffirm Lambeth I.10, the Living in Love and Faith Next Steps Group issued a statement on 21st July assuring people that they “had first sight of the Calls on the day of their publication” (though they give this as 20th July 2022). The same day saw the beginning of growing outrage from those opposed to Lambeth I.10 resulting in a message about the Calls on 22nd July from Canterbury to the bishops attending the Conference. In addition to stressing the diversity of those involved in drafting he said “these Calls have grown out of a process of discussion and encounter with one another. They are informed by the insights and themes of the online video conversations between bishops across the world over the past year”.

Two days later Bishop Kevin Robertson made clear that the controversial published draft call on human dignity had inserted references to Lambeth I.10 after the group had agreed a text which did not include its reaffirmation. The following day (25th July) the Calls Co-ordinator issued a statement which announced that “The drafting group for the Call on Human Dignity will be making some revisions to the Call”. He also changed the process of voting to allow a third option – “This Call does not speak for me. I do not add my voice to this Call” – and announced that there would now be a new document “Lambeth Calls – which will be the texts that will be discussed by bishops at the conference”. With the Conference officially starting the next day he made clear that “This will be released as soon as it is available”.

The new text was released the following day as the Conference opened and included revisions to four calls though these revisions were not explicitly signalled in the text of the 34 page document. Rather than the earlier statements of voting on sections of the Calls it was now stated that “bishops will consider each of the Calls together” and that “Calls chosen by the bishops at the conference will be formally issued in the report of the Lambeth Conference 2022”. There was also no longer any reference to the bishops being able “to adopt or adapt” although the full set of traffic lights were confirmed as voting options including the newly added “red”.

Despite repeated questioning, no further information has been given on the process that led to the original published text inserting a reference to I.10 without the consent of the Human Dignity group nor to who else (other than the Chairs) is on that or any drafting group. This is important not only for transparency but because, as I have argued elsewhere, the rewording on Human Dignity, represents a highly significant shift in relation to the Communion’s understanding of both sexuality and ecclesiology, for which no rationale has been offered.

Deciding about the Calls – To Vote or not to Vote?

It was about this time (certainly after July 24th) that further information was added to the web page about the calls, seeking to explain “How the Lambeth Call Sessions run at the conference”. This was set out on July 30th the day that the first Call was due to be discussed and was significantly different when compared to the initial descriptions: the bishops would “engage in discussion within their groups, or ‘tables’” and each of these “has a nominated facilitator who will record written feedback” which “will be given to the phase 3 group so the voices of bishops will be heard as the process continues”. A random selection of facilitators “will be invited to give feedback during the session”. This whole session, involving up to 650 bishops, lasts for about 1hr 15mins on each call.

Any bishops still hoping to be able to vote on each section or decide whether “to adopt or adapt” as set out in the guide issued on July 18th would be disappointed. Under “making choices” it was stated:

During the conference bishops will consider each of the Calls together and will then be able to respond with one of three options…Bishops will register their options using electronic machines. Those delegates who are unable to be present will also have the opportunity to register a choice remotely.

Confirming that the initial binary choice was no choice at all (or that this was another aspect of the process that had changed) and that the “adopt or adapt” distinction is meaningless in practice it was also stated that there was no difference between the first two options:

If the majority of bishops add their voices to the Call and/or ask for further work then the Call in question will become part of the official report of the Conference and passed to the Phase 3 implementation group to agree on the next steps and communicate further with the provinces and dioceses. The outcomes will be announced shortly afterward, during the sessions, and made public later.

However, the previous day it was reported that the Calls Co-ordinator had not only “apologized repeatedly for a lack of clarity about the release and revision to the Human Dignity Call” but also “said the calls were subject to more revision during the conference”. He also “asserted that even though many bishops claimed to be confused, the Lambeth Calls steps had unfolded as planned” and, despite the various statements set out above and where the process now stands, claimed:

We sent out the draft calls to allow the bishops to say what they actually think of the calls before they gather here. It was always our intention that we would hear that response and then we would respond to that response before the conference happened, and as we have done, many of the calls we would then push out a new version of the calls, and that would happen throughout the conference. The conference is the governing body, if you like. The conference are the people who will decide how the calls are shaped, eventually.

The first vote took place on Saturday afternoon on the call on mission and evangelism and the information provided about it rather than giving figures for some reason gave percentages:

464 Bishops responded to the Call with the following options:

  • ‘This Call speaks for me. I add my voice to it and commit myself to take the action I can to implement it.’ 66%
  • ‘This Call requires further discernment. I commit my voice to the ongoing process.’ 33%
  • This Call does not speak for me. I do not add my voice to this Call.’ 1%

Several noted that this was a surprisingly low turnout for the first call on such an important topic. It is not clear exactly how many bishops are eligible to vote (as no list has been published either of those attending or those participating remotely and able to vote) but it is thought to be at least 650 and so only about 70% voted. This means that less than 50% of those eligible to vote gave it a green light (and that does not include the roughly 200 bishops of the Communion who are not attending).

Perhaps because of these figures, perhaps because of concerns about the Global South pushing for a vote on a resolution they are drafting on Lambeth I.10, the following day the system was changed once more. In the words of the press release:

In this afternoon’s Lambeth Calls session on Safe Church, Archbishop Justin outlined some changes to the Lambeth Calls process. The Bishops will continue to discuss the calls at their tables, recording feedback and observations, and this will be given to the group working on Phase 3 of the Conference so that the voices of bishops will be heard as the process continues. Six groups will have the opportunity to give verbal feedback during each session, on a randomly selected basis. However, having listened to the bishops, Archbishop Justin advised delegates that electronic recording of choices will not be in place for the remaining calls, an announcement that was greeted with supportive applause. An opportunity will be given at the end of each session for a verbal indication of agreement. If the calls gain clear assent they will be sent forward for further work.

It is not at all clear how the voice vote will be determined (especially if reports are confirmed that the presumption is assent and only those against will be invited to verbally indicate their view). I understand that at a press conference it was stated that if a call fails or if it passes on what sounds like a close vote, that will simply be noted in the official record. 

So it appears that, by a circuitous and confusing route, the “beautiful, exciting moment of hearing God’s call to us” in which “the Lambeth Conference in 2022 is going to make decisions” has moved away from a discernment process with options to adopt or adapt and the bishops shaping the call and voting on sections of each one. It has now become literally a shouting match in a room of hundreds of bishops who can only yell for or against a text which has been delivered to them by a small group of unidentified individuals. If approved, this text will then “become part of the official report of the Conference” although there appears to be a mysterious “group working on Phase 3 of the Conference” who, in the light of the feedback from groups, may presumably revise the calls further after the Conference has dispersed.

It does seem that the whole Calls process, from start to present, is best summed up in the text displayed when clicking on the link to the Lambeth Conference website FAQ pages: 


Learning from the past

This is the 15th Lambeth Conference.  The first 13 Conferences sought, as this one has done through its Calls, to “make decisions” in relation to resolutions. Those resolutions were formulated in various ways from which it would have been possible to learn about good practice and processes.  All of the past processes were significantly shaped by the bishops themselves during the Conference in ways that are totally missing in relation to these Calls.

Take the two most recent conferences that passed resolutions. In 1988 the Conference (involving 518 bishops) began to be prepared in 1983 and in July 1987, a year before it met, a gathering of 45 bishops, consultants and staff drawn from different parts of the Communion reflected on a range of preparatory materials and produced a collection of working papers which were sent to all participants.  The Conference had four sections each with a theme and “the working paper on their theme became the basic documentation for the work of that Section”.  Each section was divided into material on particular subjects each of which “was assigned to small groups of ten or twelve within each Section”.  These groups were the building blocks of the conference and they worked on a document presented to the whole section and published in the report of the Conference. Out of the work of each section “emerged certain matters which needed to be brought to a Resolutions Committee”. (Quotations from The Truth Shall Make You Free: The Lambeth Conference 1988, pp.1-2).

A similar process took place in 1998 when 750 bishops met from 18th July to 9th August (a reminder that another problem in this Conference is its shorter length). Over three years and nine regional meetings critical concerns were identified and then considered by the Design Group and Consultants in April 1997.  This led to the Section themes which “along with supporting study papers” were “sent out as the agenda in October 1997” ie nine months before the Conference itself. (See The Official Report of the Lambeth Conference 1998, ix). At the conference itself again there were four sections with each bishop assigned to one and these sections produced reports and drafted resolutions, the latter again overseen by a Resolutions Committee and able to be amended when brought to the whole Conference for consideration (as famously occurred in relation to I.10).

Even in 2008, when there were no resolutions or calls and the process was modelled on that of indaba, there was a much clearer, more transparent, process than at this Conference. There were two main products of that Conference (which met from 16th July to 3rd August) each of which, though far from perfect, shows how the Calls process could have been better handled at this Conference. Rather than producing resolutions the Conference published a Reflections document whose goal was “capturing conversations and reflections from the Lambeth Conference”. This was produced by an identified Reflections Group which worked with the appointed listeners in each of the 16 indaba groups and sought to produce a narrative of the various discussions based on what arose from those groups. In contrast there remains much mystery as to how the feedback on each of the Calls is being processed, who drafted and may at any point revise each of the Calls, and the membership and remit of the “group working on Phase 3 of the Conference”.

The 2008 Conference did, of course, also have text to consider that (as proposed with these Calls) would eventually be offered to the wider Communion. That text was the St Andrew’s Draft of the Covenant. This was available in January 2008, giving six months for bishops to consider its content. To help them shape the text an extensive questionnaire was produced. The Lambeth Commentary explains (p. 33) how this was handled:

On two occasions during the second week of the Lambeth Conference, bishops were invited to discuss the concept of an Anglican covenant and the St. Andrew’s Draft in particular. Indaba group leader handed out questionnaires to each bishop in their groups. After these questionnaires were returned, they were collected. Responses to the questions were tabulated numerically, and hand written comments were transcribed and in some cases translated into English and transcribed. The Responses were organised at first according to Province and then gathered into Communion-wide totals. 

The published analysis of their responses shows one way in which the bishops this year could have given input on the Calls and how that could be analysed.  The responses are broken down by province and region and the questions allow for a much greater range of responses.  In relation to multiple questions the options were “very content”, “reasonably content”, “some concerns”, and “serious reservations”. As noted above there were also individual comments collected, collated and analysed.  These then enabled concerns and questions to be identified and responded to by the Design Group in their Commentary. 


If we are “paying attention to power” this whole Calls process must raise very serious concerns about how the Communion is currently run. In one sense, this is nothing new – from the early church onwards (as recounted, for example, in Ramsay MacMullen’s Voting about God in Early Church Councils) gatherings of bishops have been messy, sometimes even engendering physical violence. But that does not justify turning a blind eye to seriously flawed processes and questions about the use of power here and now.

This Conference has been being planned for five years and it was over two and a half years ago that the idea it might offer “invitations” was first publicly raised. There has been a whole year of “phase one” involving conversations among bishops in which it appears no Calls were discussed. Instead, the subjects of these Calls only began to be signalled two months before the Conference and the text of them delivered to the bishops only a week before they arrived. It then became clear that on the most contentious subject the text (itself only considered for two months by a small unidentified group) had been altered secretly after being signed off and prior to publication. This then led to a revised text of it (totally reversing the original proposal) being released, along with changes to other Calls, on the day the Conference started. 

The whole process by which the texts were produced and revised (and may yet be further revised) and by whom they were produced remains almost totally hidden. The role of the bishops gathered in the Conference has moved from being invited to involvement in shaping the texts as they listened to God through, in barely a week, multiple processes of decision-making none of which gave them any real power at all. 

Many felt that the indaba process of 2008 threatened to undermine the historic role of the Lambeth Conference. The way in which these Calls have been developed and then placed before this Conference is even more dangerous. It was clear in 2008 that the crisis in the Communion was preventing the Conference fulfilling its traditional significant role as an Instrument gathering the bishops of the Communion together to provide leadership together. That silencing was a tragedy but at least it was clear what was happening. This Conference, in contrast, has the pretence of being a revived and functioning body, issuing Calls which claim the authority of the whole Conference and seek to set the agenda for the Instruments and, if received by them, the provinces of the Communion. Those Calls however have arisen wholly outside the Conference which has, despite initial statements, been given no opportunity to shape them. It has, in the first five days of the conference, had various different crude voting procedures introduced and then withdrawn. It is now being told that unless enough bishops literally shout them down these rapidly produced and largely unscrutinised texts will be written into the Conference record as they stand before being passed on to another seemingly highly controlled, non-transparent process. By then, of course, the bishops will have dispersed and thus lost whatever limited power they currently could have to revise the texts and to call people and processes to account. Alongside all this there is also the absence of hundreds of bishops, the grossly disproportionate representation of the declining parts of the Communion, and the Global South leadership protesting that their voice is not heard. 

It is clear that thankfully there is, without doubt, much good wonderfully being done as bishops from across the world meet together. In fact it is almost as if there are at least three different Conferences: the conflictual Conference portrayed in social and other media, the convivial Conference in which relationships are established or revived and mutual encouragement experienced as bishops worship, study Scripture and talk and pray together, and the chaotic Conference described above in relation to the Calls. Those Calls are, however, the main tangible, written product of the Conference. They are intended to shape the Communion’s life over the next few years and articulate how the bishops of the Communion understand us to be “God’s Church for God’s World”. They are also where many of the elements of the conflictual Conference come to a head. There is a real danger that the bishops, unless they pay close attention to power in relation to how these Calls have been developed, have evolved since they were first announced, and are now being written into the Conference report, will find that their ability genuinely to discuss, discern and decide together as bishops of the Communion has been taken from them. If that happens, the first of the corporate Instruments of the Communion, now over 150 years old, may well be dealt yet another serious blow, one from which it may never recover. 

Although these are real dangers, whatever happens in relation to Lambeth Calls through this week and beyond into Phase 3, what ultimately matters is not the calls issued by one part of God’s church but the call issued by God that creates and sustains God’s church and “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it” (1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:24‬).

Revd Dr Andrew Goddard is Assistant Minister, St James the Less, Pimlico, Tutor in Christian Ethics, Westminster Theological Centre (WTC) and Tutor in Ethics at Ridley Hall, Cambridge.  He is a member of the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) and was a member of the Co-Ordinating Group of LLF.

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18 thoughts on “Paying attention to power in Lambeth ‘Calls’”

  1. Ian, please, in view of your moratorium from today delete, withdraw, withhold this.
    Here is a link to an article which may supplement Andrew Goddard’s expanded approach of the history, timeline, of Lambeth and processes.
    It is a critique of the Delphi methodology which appears to being in operation, in a developed form, at Lambeth. From my experience of it’s sometime employment in NHS senior management, the article, by drawing attention to the methodology’s flaws, strikes something of a clear note, in how power may operate in the process itself. The comment by a Bishop in attendance is telling.

  2. Thank you, Andrew, for your typically careful tracking of the bodyswerves and dips, and also of tying this to the question of the use of power.

  3. “…those who lead the Anglican Communion are far from naïve or stupid.  There is a great deal of subtlety in the way that Anglicanism operates in a highly politicised system of influence, finance and relationship. Power and authority are constantly negotiated and re-negotiated…”

    “I will immediately have any reference to Resolution 1.10 removed from the Call on Human Dignity”.

    “I will immediately issue a letter confirming that Resolution 1.10 is the official Anglican Doctrine on Human Dignity”.  

  4. “…there appears to be a mysterious “group working on Phase 3 of the Conference” who, in the light of the feedback from groups, may presumably revise the calls further after the Conference has dispersed” – Andrew Goddard.

    “I will immediately authorize you to….”

  5. Looking in on one of the Bible Studies from the Lambeth Conference, I was struck by the eirenic tone of the ABC, when he drew the attention of the participants to the fact that ‘holiness’ cannot be quantified by our human understanding of purity. Holiness belongs to God – as Jesus quickly told one of his interrogators: “God alone is Holy” – therefore, try as we might, we cannot attain to it by our own striving – which is the mistake many evangelical enthusiasts make in their assessment of the current controversy of human gender and sexuality issues. It really is worth looking at, listening to, and learning from what the ABC is saying (from the 49th minute of this recording)

    • There is a paradox here. Holiness is both a gift of God – Deuteronomy 14: 2, as quoted by Archbishop Welby – and a command of God – 1 Peter 1:15-16. In a similar way the Holy Spirit is both a gift of God – Luke 11:13 – and a command of God – Ephesians 5:18.

      So for those of us who sit in the pews, we just have to focus on our own holiness or lack of it, not worry too much about other peoples’ holiness. And to pray for those who stand in the pulpits, because they have the awesome responsibility of guiding us along the way.

      • It is not a paradox. It is both /and. It is sanctification. Be Holy as I am Holy, says the thrice Holy God. The the Spirit is Holy. It includes holiness in sexuality, though that is not all.
        Communion is Holy Communion.
        The Bible is the Holy Bible.
        Who drilled the hole in Anglican holiness: scuppered.

    • Where exactly from the NT is Jesus quoted as saying: “God only is holy”? The closest I can find is:” Why do you call me good ——- No-one in good -except God alone [ Mark 10:18].”
      Jesus was fully aware of the teaching concerning holiness from Leviticus 11:44, ” I am the Lord your God; *consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.”
      Moreover, as has already been quoted (see Jamie wood), as we read in both Deuteronomy 14 and I Peter 1: 15-16 ; holiness is a gift and command of God. But I would go further: holiness is the *call* of God! Deuteronomy 14 : 2 makes it abundantly clear : ” for you are a people *holy to the Lord your God* —– the Lord has chosen you to be his treasured possession.” Likewise in ! Peter 1 :15 ” But just as he who has *called you* is holy, so be holy in all you do!”
      To summarize: no one can “attain holiness” by our own striving. Rather our “striving” is our sacrifical response to the grace of God in our lives . That is why Chritians are *already* saints -the hagioios ( = the “called out” ones); [ see for example Pholippians 1:1].
      Finally, Father Smith,I would humbly suggest that if the ABC is known for its “eirenic tone” then I must assume that the acronym?*ABC* could also stand for the level of its biblical insights!

  6. “…a shouting match in a room of hundreds of bishops who can only yell for or against a text which has been delivered to them by a small group of unidentified individuals.” How different from the first Gafcon in Jerusalem 2008. Some, mostly Western leaders wanted a draft text to be produced before the Conference, but Archbishop Akinola insisted that it should emerge from the conference with no pre-drafting by an unaccountable group. The result was the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration.

    • And that ‘Jerusalem Statement’ was a big step in the devolution of the GAFCON Provinces from the rest of the world-wide Anglican Communion – and all about an assumed category of ‘holiness’ the delegates felt they needed to protect for themselves! Not Christianity 101.

    • “…a shouting match in a room of hundreds of bishops who can only yell for or against a text” is a complete distortion of the facts here. And of course a conference that was a gathering of those who already substantially in agreement will feel different.

      • Please may I ask who decides the result of the verbal responses, and what happens if there seems to be an equal response for the different options? Also, is there any way of telling whether a large number of bishops are responding quietly or a small number of bishops are responding loudly. Oddly, these are becoming important questions for the credibility of the Conference.

      • Is there any connection between the fact that they were already substantially in agreement and the other fact that they were less subject to transient cultural currents, subjection to which would automatically be bound to put them in conflict with the eternally-minded?

        • David thank you for telling us what is actually the case rather than what some observers and so called journalists would like to be the case.

          Christopher as so often you display your bias and tendency to beg questions.
          Those supportive of same gender marriage are also eternally minded.
          I’m glad that the Archbishop’s most recent letter reminds us that exclusions and sanctions are not part of Lambeth 1.10. – however much supporters of the long dead Anglican Covenant would like them to be.

          • Thanks Andrew. Christopher always responds to anything I post but he may not recall that some time ago I told him I would no longer engage with him in discussion. The reason was I simply could not understand what he was saying and could not be sure he understood me either! No fault. No blame. Call it mutual incomprehension. It helped my blood pressure and I hope it helped his.

  7. I find it interesting that an “irenic homily” on the universalist nature of hyper-grace, is extended beyond a “free-for-all” approach to pragma and praxis and treated as ‘permissive licence’ to attack Evangelicals. Was it something in the body language or some secret sign or possibly some verbal inflection?

  8. May I take this opportunity to thank Andrew (Goddard) for the application, background information and analysis that he has dedicated to this contentious series of topics. I share many of the concerns of those who feel that there is little or no mileage in further debate. However we need to remember two things: first, the “what Jesus might say” approach can be a two-edged sword ; particularly if there is a fundamental difference not only in our understanding of “who He is” but the question of ,by what *means* do we determine who he is! Those who say that it is a question of differing biblical interptretations are either ignoring or deliberately missing out the central issue of authority structures.

    And secondly, we are reminded in Acts 15 that the reporting of the Council of Jerusalem re the incorporation if the Gentiles into the covenant community was not only by word of mouth but specifically via written documentation!


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