Before the bishops arrive in Canterbury for the 2008 Lambeth Conference, hundreds of them will enjoy a taste of another part of Britain.
Through the “Hospitality Initiative,” every bishop and spouse invited to the Lambeth Conference has also been invited to be the guest of an Anglican diocese in England, Wales, or Scotland. The response has been enormous, with hundreds accepting the invitation. They will spend five days in one of 57 dioceses stretching from Truro in the south to Moray, Ross and Caithness in the north and St David’s in the west.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity to offer the gift of hospitality to representatives of our sister churches around the world,” says the Revd Mark Rodel, who is organising the Hospitality Initiative in the Diocese of Portsmouth, which will be hosting 11 bishops and their spouses from Ghana and the United States.
Through the initiative, the visiting bishops will have a chance to experience firsthand how the church lives out its mission in another part of the worldwide Anglican Communion. It will also provide a unique opportunity for those in the host dioceses to encounter church leaders from another part of global Anglican family.
“Those of us involved in planning the programme are excited about the opportunity to hear from God as we share stories of our participation in God’s mission in some very different settings,” says Fr Rodel. “It will be a time for learning and growth for all of us in our engagement with God.”
The Bishop of Edinburgh, whose diocese will be hosting a half-dozen bishops with their spouses, agrees. “It is important that we recognise the international dimension of our church life and to bring it powerfully into the life of the Diocese of Edinburgh,” says the Right Revd Brian Smith. In Wales, the Diocese of St Asaph will host bishops from as far away as India and Brazil. The diocesan web site says, “our contribution in this way will be important to the whole Lambeth process.”
It’s also hoped that some of the encounters made through the Hospitality Initiative might result in the establishment of new companion relationships between dioceses. Dozens of Anglican dioceses in different parts of the globe are already twinned, and support each other through prayer, visits, and mission initiatives.
The bishops and spouses participating in the Hospitality Initiative will be the guests of their host dioceses until Wednesday 16 July, at which point they will arrive in Canterbury to begin a three-day retreat led by Archbishop Rowan Williams.
The Lambeth Conference occurs every 10 years and comprises some 650 Anglican bishops and their spouses. It will be held 16 July-4 August 2008 at the University of Kent at Canterbury and Canterbury Cathedral.
Bruce Myers contributed to this report, with files from the dioceses of Edinburgh, Portsmouth, and St Asaph.
For more information, contact:
Canon James Rosenthal
Director of Communications
Anglican Communion Office
Mobile phone: +44 (0)7803 894 751
Editor’s Note: ACNS will highlight stories of the hospitality initiative in the coming days for your use.