Church rallies round Williams as African bishops boycott Lambeth
An international coalition of bishops is rallying to the support of the Archbishop of Canterbury in a move that appears likely to ensure Anglican unity as the church enters one of its most crucial weeks since the Reformation. In all, 650 bishops from around the world are gathering at the University of Kent in Canterbury for this week's Lambeth Conference. Apocalyptic scenarios have been predicted, but it now appears that the broader Anglican family will hold together thanks to a series of sermons by Rowan Williams appealing for unity and the desire among bishops – including many from Africa – not to be seen to be the wreckers of the communion.
The bishops are already involved in highly secretive meetings within Canterbury Cathedral, but yesterday The Independent spoke to a group which said "a new Pentecost" was emerging as fears of a damaging schism faded. Other sources confirmed that what was perceived as a slightly more conservative line being taken by Dr Williams with regards to women bishops and sexuality, was finding favour.
The Archbishop has made it clear to the gathering – which will continue at Canterbury for the next two weeks – that while he is listening to the concerns of all, he is keen to address other issues facing churches and communities around the globe.
Sources say he wants to focus the conference on issues such as the plight of persecuted minorities in Sudan.
Last night that approach appeared to be finding favour with bishops from Africa who have not joined a boycott.
In a series of closed-door meetings, Dr Williams has spoken of his "great grief" that more than 200 bishops are not attending the Lambeth Conference.
Absentees were thought to be from Nigeria, Uganda and Rwanda though conference organisers say a bishop has now emerged from Rwanda. One bishop told of being hugged by a fellow bishop from west Africa who had previously been critical.
Among those rallying round the Archbishop last night was Peter Lee, the Bishop of Christ the King Diocese in southern Africa. He said: "Archbishop Williams has urged us retune our ears to God".
Another now backing Dr Williams, Valentino Mokiwa, the new Archbishop of Tanzania, added: "The Archbishop is paving the way forward for the Lambeth Conference. He has asked us to be biblical and trust in God." The Archbishop is said to be in high spirits after – temporarily at least – leaving behind domestic rows sparked by the "wedding" of two vicars and the formal acceptance of women priests at the General Synod, and focusing instead on the mission of his church.
"The Archbishop is asking us to reflect on our role as bishops in the light of scripture. His words are deeply spirited," added Philip Poole, the Suffragan Bishop of Toronto.
The seriousness of the task facing Dr Williams is clear, as he attempts to keep the focus on issues such as the plight of the Sudanese – symbolically invoked when their representatives presided over the Eucharist at the Cathedral this week – and social justice at home and abroad.
The broad meaning of Anglican identity will be discussed on Monday, along with evangelism on Tuesday, social injustice on Wednesday, and the environment on Saturday.
- 1 King Salman: Just five days in, Saudi Arabia's new king has already overseen a beheading
- 2 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 4 Presidential optical illusion offers clues to how brain processes faces
King Salman: Just five days in, Saudi Arabia's new king has already overseen a beheading
Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary: Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Ukip Jelly Babies cause uproar on Amazon
Chilling drone footage captures Auschwitz ahead of 70th anniversary of liberation
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Front End Web Developer is re...
£250 - £300 per day: Investigo: Growing international marketing business requi...
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ORM Consultant is required t...