The Lambeth Conference.

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Once again it is that time when the leaders of the 865 dioceses and 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion meet for the historic Lambeth Conference in England. These are the provinces and dioceses from 165 countries around the globe.

This week the purple clerical shirt is dominating the airports around the world as bishops and archbishops of the Anglican Communion together with their spouses travel to England for the fifteenth Lambeth Conference to be held from July 26 — August 8, 2022. The Anglican Communion is simply defined as, “a body of churches including the Church of England and those churches that hold essentially the same faith, order, and worship with it and are therefore in communion with each other.” One would then ask the question, “What holds this world´s third largest body of Christian communion together?” Interestingly, there is no formal constitution or international church law that binds these churches together. What is common among these more than 85 million members is a shared heritage in terms of worship and relationship.

However, in terms of governance, four instruments are important for holding this diverse body together and these are; The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Lambeth Conference, The Anglican Consultative Council, and the Primate's Meeting. (https://www.anglicancommunion.org/structures/instruments-of-communion.aspx).

This explains why the Lambeth Conference is so important for the life of the Anglican Communion. It is a symbol of unity for this large and diverse family. The conference is held once in a decade and sometimes a bishop is consecrated and retires without attending the conference. This year's conference is the fifteenth since the first one that took place in 1867. It is therefore the bishop's dream to attend one such conference in lifetime.

The conference is convened by the Archbishop of Canterbury who is also the symbol of unity for the Anglican Communion. When he chairs the meeting he is referred to as 'the first among the equals.' This year's conference is chaired by the Most Reverend Justin Welby who is the current Archbishop of Canterbury. The archbishop is also responsible for inviting delegates (bishops and spouses) and all bishops are invited but there are some who turn down the invitation.

This is normal in a family setting especially this one which is very diverse. They are some areas of conflict that comes into play as people try to manage diversity. The purpose of this meeting is to gather all the Anglican Communion archbishops and bishops for prayer and reflection, fellowship and dialogue on church and world affairs. This year's theme is; God's Church for God's World—walking, listening and witnessing together. The archbishop stressed the aspect of listening and walking together rather than focusing on issues that separate us.

The tone of the archbishop demonstrates how committed he is to the unity of the church. The first letter of Peter is the biblical text for the conference. The importance of the conference is that it shapes the life of the Anglican Communion in the decade ahead. Among other themes to be discussed at the conference are; mission and evangelism, Christian unity, discipleship, Anglican identity, interfaith matters, safe church, reconciliation, human identity and environment and sustainable development. This is serious business as bishops listen to stories from colleagues around the globe. It is the prayer of every Anglican that the church comes out much stronger and more united after the conference. I shall end with the prayer for unity by the Community of the Holy Name, Diocese of Zululand, Anglican Church of Southern Africa.

Lord Jesus, you are the father to all the people of the world Especially, those who had confessed that Jesus is Lord. We pray for peace and unity among the Christian family. Let your Holy Spirit dwell and intervene among us when we have different views so as to do the work you sent us to do and fulfil your will. You are the only one who can bring peace and tranquillity among your people. Without you, there is nothing we can do, you are our rock and salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.