04 August 2022

A visit to Lambeth Palace for the Lambeth Conference

This week I had the joy of sharing in the Lambeth Conference at the kind invitation of Archbishop Justin Welby and Mrs. Caroline Welby.  The Conference had a ‘day out’ as the 650 bishops and their partners travelled from the University of Kent, where most of the proceedings have been held, to Lambeth Palace.  I was part of a small group of ecumenical and interfaith guests who were sharing with the Conference in reflections and commitments around climate change (the Conference is tackling one significant subject each day).  As part of all that happened at Lambeth Palace, the Conference launched ‘The Communion Forest’ and a call to Anglicans throughout the world to take up every opportunity to plant trees and encourage others to do the same.  The full text of the ‘call ‘can be found on the Lambeth Conference website.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby and the President of the Conference, Revd Graham Thompson outside the new Lambeth Palace Library.

The whole operation was a logistical challenge that the staff and volunteers around the Conference managed with gentleness and dexterity.  A huge marquee had been set up in the palace garden and provision made for 1,450 people to sit down for lunch and conversation.  I sat with disciples from Tanzania, Jamaica, India and Canada.  We talked about the effects of climate change in the parts of the world that we represented.  Similar conversations were repeated around the other 130+ tables throughout the marquee - it was an informative and challenging time of conferring.

The afternoon ended with an Act of Penitence and commitments to do all we can to limit carbon emissions and to exercise leadership by encouraging others to do the same.  It was a hot day and so the need to take the climate crisis seriously was well-made, within the parched garden, as the leaders of the Anglican Communion and guests committed themselves to do more.

Revd Graham Thompson standing by the Lambeth Palace fig tree.

I am reminded of the old story about an American evangelist who would pray daily for revival but nothing happened.  One day the penny dropped.  That day he drew a circle on the ground, stood within it and prayed again.  This time he asked the Lord to send revival by starting within the circle and working outwards.  If we are to respond effectively to the climate crisis, we need to begin with ourselves.  We need to make the personal sacrifices that change requires and only then can lead others to do the same.

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