Lambeth Conference has 'compounded the problems' in the Anglican Communion

Delegates at the Lambeth Conference 2022 in Canterbury, Kent.(Photo: Lambeth Conference)

Gafcon leader, Foley Beach, has expressed disappointment with the Lambeth Conference for treating liberal and traditional interpretations of Scripture as "equally valid".

The Lambeth Conference brought around 650 bishops to Canterbury in Kent earlier this month to discuss a range of issues, the most divisive of which was sexuality.

Missing from the gathering were orthodox bishops from Uganda, Rwanda and Nigeria who decided to boycott it over the presence of liberal bishops.

Reflecting on the conference in a letter to Gafcon members, Dr Beach said that "rather than being a source of healing and unity, the Lambeth Conference compounded the problems".

"Over the last couple of decades, Lambeth Conference organizers and events like these have routinely mixed heresy and orthodoxy; treating both positions as equally valid," he said.

"The clear teaching of Scripture is treated as one of many valid options with no accountability for those Provinces who depart from the Bible.

"I wish I could be writing to you and sharing that the recent Lambeth Conference was different, but it was not."

Bishops at the conference were divided over the Lambeth Call on Human Dignity and the removal of a reaffirmation of Lambeth 1.10, the 1998 resolution upholding marriage between a man and a woman and rejecting homosexual practice.

Orthodox bishops under the umbrella of the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches circulated a petition reaffirming Lambeth 1.10, and refused to take communion alongside their liberal counterparts.

This in turn prompted liberal bishops to circulate their own petition on the "holiness" of LGBT+ love.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, touched on the divisions in various letters and keynote addresses during the Conference, telling bishops that Anglicans "do not ... go down the road of expelling other Christians".

He angered orthodox Anglicans by affirming progressive bishops and suggesting that they were still being faithful to Scripture.

"They have not arrived lightly at their ideas that traditional teaching needs to change. They are not careless about scripture. They do not reject Christ. But they have come to a different view on sexuality after long prayer, deep study and reflection on understandings of human nature," said Welby in his remarks on the Call on Human Dignity.

"For them, to question this different teaching is unthinkable, and in many countries is making the church a victim of derision, contempt and even attack. For these churches not to change traditional teaching challenges their very existence."

Dr Beach, who is Chair of the Gafcon Primates Council, said that the Lambeth Conference was "filled with confusion" and revealed the brokenness of the Anglican Communion.

"The Canterbury Communion is broken, not just metaphorically, but literally, as those in attendance could not in good conscience all share Holy Communion," he said. 

"The Canterbury Communion has ceased to be a place where communion can be shared and has devolved into something more akin to a federation or association of Provinces with a common history and incompatible theologies and moral ethics.

"While their colonial structures are imploding, the Anglican Establishment in England continues to ignore the valid concerns of those who hold to the teaching of the Bible and the historical teaching of the Church." 

He ended his letter with a call to "Biblical repentance and renewal", and the profession of "an unambiguous, saving faith in Jesus Christ".