The Archbishop of Canterbury has revealed as many as six Anglican primates may not attend a pivotal meeting next month.
The gathering of leaders from the 39 Anglican provinces around the world will be boycotted by a handful of African archbishops because of what they see as the Church's liberal drift on sexuality.
The Archbishop of Nigeria and Archbishop of Uganda have already announced they will not come but in a video posted online on Wednesday evening Justin Welby said 'possibly as many as six' will not be present 'either through health or because they have chosen not to be'.
Christian Today understands that at least three of the six will not come in protest after the Scottish Episcopal Church joined Anglican Churches in the US in permitting gay marriage. The remaining absentees will not attend for other reasons.
'We will miss those who are not there,' Welby said, 'miss them very much.'
But he insisted he was 'greatly looking forward' to the meeting in Canterbury in October and that 'it's an extraordinary feeling to have the leaders of all the provinces gathering together'.
The final agenda is yet to be agreed but it is the first time the primates have met since January 2016 when The Episcopal Church in the US faced 'consequences' for allowing same-sex couples to marry in church.
Welby described that meeting as 'one of the most memorable weeks of my life' and highlighted the commitment to 'walk together' despite their disagreements.
Since then 16 new primates have taken office, meaning this gathering will have a radically different make-up from that in 2016.
'There will be a whole lot of fresh energy and fresh excitement – and, no doubt, some tough questions ... I think that's going to be fabulous,' Welby said.
You can watch the full video message below: