Go to foot of page for Lambeth links

From the Associated Press, Sunday, 19 July 1998:


CANTERBURY, England (AP) - The ancient cathedral of Canterbury pulsed with African drums and Latin dancers Sunday when Anglican bishops from around the world gathered for Communion to open the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference.

The service began with a greeting in Swahili from Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey. Guests included Prince Charles, who will be the secular head of the Church of England when he becomes king.

More than 700 bishops from national churches affiliated with the Church of England are attending the conference, the main forum for debate among Anglicans.

Among issues to be raised during the three-week conference is the church's traditional teaching on homosexuality. Gay and lesbian Anglicans have been vigorously lobbying bishops to reconsider the church's stance.

But in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp. broadcast Sunday, Carey said heterosexual marriage or celibacy are the only options for Christians.

But he said the church will make efforts to resist homophobia, hatred or fear of homosexuals or homosexuality.

``We are going to say homosexuals are welcome in the church, in the priesthood, in the working congregations,'' Carey said. The Church of England's official position is that homosexual acts ``fall short of the Christian tradition.'' The church also bars ordination of sexually active homosexuals.

In a sermon on Sunday, Bishop Simon Chiwanga of Mpwapwa in Tanzania said the conference will not shy away from controversy.

``Controversial issues and passionate debates do happen, and the Lambeth Conference cannot be an exception,'' he said, apparently referring to the anticipated debate on homosexuality.

``What is essential for every participant to be aware of is that we have to look for Christ in each other and to turn the other cheek,'' said Chiwanga. ``Change comes by enlightenment, not by force.''

On Saturday, at a service in central London, the Rev. Elizabeth Keaton of the diocese of Newark, N.J., became the first openly lesbian priest to celebrate communion in Britain.

Reflecting the diverse character of the church, the Anglican Communion organized a vibrant, colorful service Sunday in which African hunting drums alternated with the cathedral's great organ.

Dancers in swirling white dresses swayed to a Latin rhythm. Readings were in Portuguese and Arabic.

The conference, which is also expected to address relations with other churches and Third World debt, can adopt resolutions but has no authority to impose its will on individual churches.

- The Associated Press

With grateful acknowledgement to Rev. Ed Hird of St.Simon's Anglican, Vancouver for e-mailing this material.

  • Lambeth Conference - official site
  • Lambeth - from "Anglicans On-line"
  • Lambeth - Unofficial News
  • United Voice - Episcopalians United
  • Americans ask Africans to forgive
  • Gay event cancelled by bishops
  • African Bishops speak out