An Update from Lambeth

The Rt. Rev. Craig Loya

An Update from Lambeth

A soaring cathedral filled with sunlight; hundreds of bishops pray together. A soaring cathedral filled with sunlight; hundreds of bishops pray together.

Beloved in Christ, 

Today is the seventh of twelve days Melissa and I are spending at the Lambeth Conference of bishops in Canterbury, England. The Lambeth Conference has met every ten years (or so) since 1867, and was last held in 2008. There are about 700 bishops here and around 500 spouses, coming from 165 different countries. 

The days start very early and go very late. There is regular worship, we spend around three hours each day in Bible Study, and each afternoon, we spend time discussing a variety of “calls” that ask for common action around issues facing the church. My Bible study group includes bishops from Burundi, South Sudan, India, England, and Australia. The conversations are rich, challenging, and deeply nourishing. I have also attended workshops on how Anglicans around the world are addressing the crisis of climate change, and how various provinces are repenting of their colonial pasts and engaging in the work of reconciliation with indigenous people. This is a gathering of bishops for mutual discernment, cooperation, and fellowship. Nothing that happens here has any binding impact on the Episcopal Church or the diocese of Minnesota. 

Some of you may have seen on social media or in various church news outlets stories about conflict, animosity, and deep division among the bishops gathered. The overwhelming majority of people I have interacted with here are wondering what conference those reports are about. While there are critically important issues about which we have real and serious disagreements that matter, the overwhelming spirit is one of trying to find ways to walk together as much as we possibly can, while also acknowledging our real divisions with love and integrity. The tone of the conversations have been charitable and loving. There’s been a sense of beginning to heal from some of what has been hard in our common life, and a tentative hope for the future. I’ll have more to say about the specific content we’ve been discussing in the days to come, once I’ve had a little time to reflect. 

Why should any of this matter to us in Minnesota? Because I believe it really matters that we are part of a large global and historic communion of churches. As Episcopalians, we are part of something much bigger and far more diverse than ourselves. We are connected to followers of Jesus who gather under the most challenging of circumstances, facing crushing poverty, political persecution, and daily threats to their very lives. It’s been so powerful to connect with bishops so very different from me, and my great hope is that it will become more regular to convene communion-wide gatherings that involve all orders of ministry, in addition to bishops. We are always better when we connect across every form of difference. 

One of the promises I made when I was consecrated as your bishop was to share in the governance of the church throughout the world, and attending this gathering is part of how I fulfill that promise. It is always my job to represent Minnesota to the wider church, and the wider church to Minnesota. It’s an immense gift and privilege that you have trusted me to engage this work. And as rich as this time has been, I’m very eager to return home. 

Grace and peace,

The Right Reverend Craig Loya
X Bishop
Episcopal Church in Minnesota