It’s an annual event centered on talks and presentations, as well as a chance to build networks across cultural and geographical divides. The members of this year’s group are from Australia, Canada, Congo, Gammorbia, Guyana, India, Japan, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, South Sudan, Solomon Islands, Tanzania, and the United States.
“It’s been really good to meet bishops from around the Communion,” said the Rt. Rev. Mary Irwin-Gibson, Bishop of Montreal. “It’s allowing me to stand back and look at things in more depth. What I’m hearing is that our Communion must grow and we need to find a way to belong together. We don’t have to agree on everything apart from the principles of our faith in Jesus Christ. I do feel more part of the Communion after having been to bishops’ school.”
The Rev. Canon John Kafwanka, director for mission, said it was important that the bishops consider the Anglican Communion Office “their space in London.” The visitors were introduced to the various fields of work at St. Andrew’s House.
“Most of the time we pray for other parts of the Communion, but this is allowing us a personal encounter,” said the Rt. Rev. Leonard Dawea, Bishop of Temou, Solomon Islands. “My diocese is made up of islands, and climate change is a real challenge. I come from a small island, one end of which is under water. There is even a burial ground that has completely gone. I travel constantly by boat in rough seas, so I have to pray hard before I go out on missions.”
The Rt. Rev. Ellison Quity, Bishop of Ysabel in the Solomon Islands, has just been consecrated. “Now I understand my role,” he said.
The Rt. Rev. Julius Wanyoike, Bishop of Thika, Kenya, was consecrated four years ago but said he too found the course helpful: “It’s about networking and interaction and listening to what other bishops are doing in the context of mission.”
The Rev. Canon Christopher Irvine, director of education at Canterbury Cathedral, is a coordinator of the course.
“We want them to have a sense that Canterbury Cathedral is their space,” he said. “We want to help foster a sense of community, and we do this by our daily rhythm of prayer and shared meals, during which many conversations can take place. When they leave, they will have made friends with bishops from around the world.”