It has been a long and winding road to the 2022 Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops.
Convened by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the conference will take place at the University of Kent, Canterbury Cathedral and Lambeth Palace from July 26 – August 8. The normal ten-year cycle would have seen a conference held in 2018, but due to “the deep divisions that have existed for many years go far wider than simply the issues of sexuality and derive in many ways from the structure of the Anglican Communion and the need for a continued journey towards a postcolonial model of global church” the conference was rescheduled for 2020. Then, in 2020, the Lambeth Conference was postponed again to 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many of us remember with pain and sadness the 2008 Lambeth Conference and the exclusion of a sitting diocesan bishop — Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire — solely for being the only openly gay bishop in the Anglican Communion (emphasis on the “openly.”) And we take heart in the incremental progress represented by the inclusion on the guest list for this Lambeth Conference several LGBTQ bishops — even while we lament the exclusion of their spouses from officially participating in the Spouses events. (More on that here.)
And so, as the beginning of Lambeth 2022 looms on the horizon we invite prayers for our bishops in general and our LGBTQ bishops (and their spouses) in particular as they strive to be beacons of God’s love, justice and compassion to our wider Anglican Communion family — offering this order of service as a resource to the church:
Prayers for Lambeth 2022
Holy One, who dwells beyond all our names for you: we pray for the bishops of the Anglican Communion who gather at the Lambeth Conference. Infuse their gathering and conversation with your Spirit of justice and peace. Prompt them to new relationships, deeper understanding, and ever-greater focus on the Gospel of Christ. We pray for transformative and galvanizing encounters that will result in changed hearts and a renewed Church. We pray because of Jesus, your Word among us. Amen.
The Lessons: [For the Mission of the Church]
For our bishops attending Lambeth Conference:
Go. Go in peace;
go with open hearts and hands;
go to learn more than you teach;
go to love more than to be liked;
go to meet the living Christ,
found within and among you all.
Stay. Be steady in your faith;
Be resolute as agents of love and neighborliness;
stand beside one another;
keep your eyes fixed on the kingdom that Jesus proclaimed.
Stay true to that kingdom
and resist the temptations of power, hierarchy, judgment, and condemnation.
Stay true to humility, friendship, justice, inclusion, and joy.
Breathe in God’s sustaining grace.
Breathe out God’s peace into difficult conversations.
Breathe like a woman in labor, so that something new can be born.
For our beloved queer bishops attending the Lambeth Conference:
Go. Let your light so shine before others
that they may see your good works, and glorify God.
Go. Let no one steal your joy, or the thunder of your prophetic witness.
Stay. Stay close to the One who made you in the divine image.
Stay like a tree planted by the water.
Stay soft in spirit and imagine yourselves as agents of healing in the Body of Christ.
For the spouses of our queer bishops who are explicitly not invited to the Lambeth Conference:
Go. Let your spirits go beside your beloved spouses;
sustain one another even as you are far apart.
Stay. Stay connected to your spouses and to one another;
stay in the shelter of God’s sustaining love.
Resist. Resist any narrative that singles you out,
separates you from your spouse or from others.
Remember how very much you are loved,
and how much your loving matters in the world.
Let us pray:
O God of every tribe and language, people and nation, gender and orientation:
God of love and grace: grant to our bishops, who will gather with bishops from around the world at Lambeth Conference, a deep awareness of your Spirit at work in the sometimes challenging arena of the Anglican Communion.
Give to all bishops in attendance a spirit of listening, and a vigorous sense of the immense needs of the world; let the healing of the world come to the forefront of this gathering.
Make all these bishops co-workers in the struggle to care for the planet, to lift up the fallen, to feed the hungry, to bring about justice in the face of prejudice and exclusion, and to bring Christ’s love to bear in all human need.
Help them to begin and end by seeing and experiencing Christ in one another. Let your blessing and protection be with them all. We pray because of Jesus, who calls us to follow. Amen.Propers for the Mission of the Church, BCP pg. 930
Prayers by the Reverend Kay Sylvester, co-chair Diocese of Los Angeles Commission on Liturgy & Music
[photo: Susan Russell, Lambeth Conference 2008]