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Lambeth Conferences

The origin of these gatherings was fortuitous. A synod of the Anglican Church in Canada conceived the idea of a general council to deal with the Colenso* Affair and the effects of Essays and Reviews. This scheme posed great problems, but the archbishop of Canterbury, C.T. Longley, proposed an informal gathering of bishops which would meet at his personal invitation to discuss Anglican problems, though having no legislative powers. In 1867 the first conference of seventy-six bishops met, and its success ensured the calling of future conferences, which have occurred every ten years, with the majority of Anglican bishops attending. The 1888 conference was important for its endorsement of the Lambeth Quadrilateral*; the 1920 conference for the “Appeal to all Christian People”-a plea for reunion addressed to the heads of all Christian communities; and the 1958 conference for its progressive statements on race relations and family planning. The 1968 conference discussed the Christian ministry, as well as current world and reunion issues. The plan of each conference is the same: a theological issue; domestic issues; church unity; and current social issues. Though the conference lasts a month, large themes are frequently treated superficially.