South Sudan Anglican Church head Justin Badi is leading a group of bishops who will be boycotting the Holy Communion at this year’s Lambeth Conference, protesting the invitation of same-sex partners.
Under the aegis of the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GFSA), the bishops said they would remain seated in protest of last minute changes to a motion which included Resolution 1.10, a text reaffirming the Christian orthodox view of sexuality, Premier Christian News, a UK-based outlet, says.
Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Conference considers homosexuality as “incompatible with scripture”.
“Sadly, some provinces are adapting some teachings to appear relevant and to make discipleship easier as a way of reversing fast-declining church attendance,” Archbishop Badi said.
“But as disciples, we are not told in Scripture to mould Jesus into ‘our’ image, but to be continually transformed by the Spirit into ‘His’ image.” Held since 1867, Lambeth is a gathering of the bishops of the Anglican Communion and takes place once in 10 years.
Bishops gather at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the ceremonial head of the global Anglican Church, “to pray together, study the Bible, hear the struggles and joys that every experience in their local contexts and address the issues facing the world”.
The fifteenth Lambeth Conference is taking place at the University of Canterbury in Kent and will run to August 8. Its theme is “God’s Church for God’s World: Walking, Listening and Witnessing together”.
The Anglican Communion has been divided since the late 1990s, thanks to the issue of ordination of openly gay priests.
The division was so intense that conservative bishops gathered in Jerusalem for the Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON) in 2008. It was here that the Jerusalem Declaration – a 14-point document which affirms the superiority of scripture – was made.
“We agree to chart a way forward together that promotes and protects the biblical gospel and mission to the world, solemnly declaring the following tenets of orthodoxy which underpin our Anglican identity,” the preamble reads.
GAFCON 2013 was held in Kenya. The 1,358 delegates present issued the “Nairobi Communique and Commitment”.
“We reaffirmed our view that we are a global fellowship of confessing Anglicans, engaged in a movement of the Holy Spirit which is personal and ecclesial,” it says.
“We appreciated that the Archbishop of Canterbury sent greetings via video and gave us the assurance of his prayers, and we likewise pray for him. We believe we have acted as an important and effective instrument of communion during a period in which other instruments of communion have failed to uphold gospel priorities in the Church, and to heal the divisions among us.” This year’s Lambeth Conference had been scheduled for 2020 but was delayed because of the pandemic.
It is the first to be called by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who assumed that role in 2013. Bishops from all 42 provinces in the Anglican Communion were invited, and more than 650 bishops and 480 spouses were registered to attend as of last month, according to Episcopal News Service.
Orthodox bishops represent a 75 per cent of the Anglican Communion, the majority of Anglicans across the world. However, there have been strong undercurrents that the interests of this majority, which is from the developing world, is often overridden by their well off Western brethren.
Archbishop Justin confirmed as much at the press conference when he stated: For too long the Anglican Communion has been driven by the views of the West.
"We often feel that our voice is not listened to, or respected. We invite each primate and bishop to sign up to our resolution, and then with the majority of the Communion in favour, for the Instruments of the Anglican Communion to find ways to put faith and order back at the heart of what the Archbishop of Canterbury describes as 'walking together'."
Their 'Lambeth Resolution' will be presented before the Conference before being submitting to bishops. At least than 200 bishops are expected to sign in support, according to Premier Christian News.