Welby asks African Archbishops to reconsider Lambeth Conference boycott

The Archbishop of Canterbury has asked the Primates of Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda to reconsider their anticipated boycott of the Lambeth Conference. 

Bishops from around the Anglican Communion will gather in Canterbury, Kent, from 26 July to 8 August but the three African Primates - who belong to the orthodox GAFCON movement - intend to stay away. 

In a statement in March, Nigerian Primate Henry Ndukuba, Rwandan Primate Laurent Mbanda, and Ugandan Primate Stephen Kaziimba said they would not be attending "because the Anglican Communion has failed to address with remorse and repentance the issues that necessitated their absence at the 2008 Lambeth Conference". 

They said that a meeting of the Primates in London earlier this year suggested "that the subject of human sexuality is not on the agenda at the next Lambeth Conference, as if the problems generated by the admission of homosexuality as a normal way of life as opposed to Resolution 1.10 of the Lambeth Conference of 1998 could be swept under the carpet".

"Instead, Lambeth 2022 is to focus on peripheral matters about the environment and difficulties experienced by disadvantaged communities," they said. 

"Their focus on the environment should be rooted in biblical theology within an authentic salvation message and must not abandon that for any social cause."

Writing to the three Church leaders, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, said that the invitation to attend "remains open".

In their joint letter, they said they were "distressed" to read that the Primates "consider matters of the environment, poverty and economic disadvantage to be 'peripheral'".

"These are matters of life and death for large parts of the Communion. They are the result of human sin of despoiling and ruining God's creation and it is anticipated that the world will see devastating wars and the displacement of up to one billion people as a direct result of climate change," the letter said. 

"Not to care for God's creation and for the poor and destitute is in direct contravention of the teaching of scripture and the words of Jesus Christ."

The letter said that in not attending Lambeth, the Primates "will have neither voice nor the opportunity to listen".

"The invitation for bishops of the Anglican Communion provinces of Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda remains open," wrote Welby and Idowu-Fearon.

"God calls us to unity and not to conflict (John 17:21) so that the world may know he came from the Father. That is the very purpose of the church globally.

"Boycotts do not proclaim Christ. Those who stay away cannot be heard, they will lose influence and the chance of shaping the future. All of us will be the poorer spiritually as a result of your absence."