Anglican Primates at Canterbury Cathedral in 2016
The Archbishop of Canterbury has written to every primate in the Anglican Communion to set out his hopes for the next meeting of Anglican Primates in Canterbury beginning Oct. 2.
He also offered details of last week’s report by the Church of England’s House of Bishops on human sexuality.
Archbishop Justin Welby described the meeting in Canterbury as an opportunity for relaxed fellowship and mutual consultation. He invited the primates to submit items for the agenda and said he is aware of the pressures under which many of them live.
“I certainly feel the need to be with you, to share our experience and in prayer and fellowship, to support one another and seek how best we can serve the call to preach the gospel, serve the poor, and proclaim the Kingdom of God,” he wrote.
He described as a “key outcome” the report’s recommendation that the Church of England’s teaching on marriage should remain unchanged, meaning there can be no same-sex weddings in the church. But he added that the current advice on pastoral provision for same-sex couples needs clarification and noted the bishops’ belief that the church needs to repent of hostility toward those couples.
Archbishop Welby’s invitation has been sent to the primates of the other 37 provinces of the Anglican Communion. It will be the first time the group has formally assembled since its meeting in January 2016, although many were present last October as the Anglican Centre in Rome celebrated its 50th anniversary.
The 2016 meeting drew worldwide attention after General Convention revised the Episcopal Church’s canon on marriage to welcome same-sex couples. As a result, Episcopalians have stepped down from the Inter-Anglican Standing Committee on Unity, Faith, and Order and from the International Reformed-Anglican Dialogue.
The January 2016 meeting also called for establishing a task group to explore differences and seek ways to restore relationships and rebuild trust. The task group, which draws members from across the Anglican Communion including the Episcopal Church, subsequently met in September and is due to meet again in 2017.
Related: Anglican Ink published the text of Archbishop Welby’s letter on Jan. 21.