Appeal to orthodox bishops to attend Lambeth Conference despite differences

The Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba(Photo: YouTube/Anglican Communion News Service)

The archbishop overseeing plans for the next Lambeth Conference is pleading with orthodox bishops threatening to boycott the event to come in spite of their differences. 

Bishops from Nigeria and Uganda have said they will stay away from the once-in-a-decade meeting out of opposition to Provinces that have adopted an increasingly liberal interpretation of the gospel.

This week, GAFCON chairman Archbishop Nicholas Okoh said the same-sex wedding of a suffragan bishop in the Church of Canada last December 'underlines the urgency of our advice in the Jerusalem 2018 "Letter to the Churches" warning against attending the 2020 Lambeth Conference as currently constituted'.

He also criticised the appointment of Dr John Shepherd as the Archbishop of Canterbury's envoy to the Vatican over his views of the physical resurrection. 

'With great sadness we therefore have to conclude that the Lambeth Conference of 2020 will itself be an obstacle to the gospel by embracing teaching and a pattern of life which are profoundly at odds with the biblical witness and the apostolic Christianity through the ages,' Archbishop Okoh said.

The Archbishop of Cape Town and chair of the Lambeth 2020 design group, the Most Rev Thabo Makgoba, however, is pleading with all bishops to set aside their differences and participate in the conference. 

'I know people talk about the fabric of the communion as torn, but we are all fallible human beings in need of God's love and grace, and we need each other,' he said in a new YouTube video.

GAFCON leaders have been alarmed by the increasing liberalisation in parts of the Anglican CommunionGAFCON

'Whether you agree with where the communion is, whether you don't agree, come and express your difference in this beautiful space which is a gift from God. Don't just stay at home and say "I'm not going".

'We want to hear that voice. It's not a conference of like-minded people; it is a conference of Anglicans. I mean, for God's sake, Anglicans, from our inceptions, we've always had push and pull. So push and pull should not be a distraction, but it should be celebrated.

'It's what I call at home, 'celebrating the gift of difference'. So I encourage all bishops and their spouses to make every possible effort to come and see what God is doing through us in his world.'

In a previous video posted to the Lambeth Conference website, the Archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual head of the Anglican Communion, the Most Rev Justin Welby asked Anglicans to pray for those they disagree with. 

'Pray for those you disagree with and resist the urge to be swayed by gossip and rumour. So when you hear something, don't necessarily believe it, turn to God and say 'if that's true, I pray for him or her'. But also, try and find out the truth.'