CAPTION: Bishop Jackie with some of her fellow female bishops at the first Lambeth Conference since the first female bishop was consecrated in England in 2015

Bishop of Exeter Proud to be Part of Anglican Communion Following Lambeth Conference

Posted: 9th August, 2022

The Bishop of Exeter said he was proud to be part of the Anglican Communion following the Lambeth Conference, which ended on 8 August.

The Anglican Communion represents eight million Christians worldwide. The conference of bishops from across the world takes place once every 10 years in Canterbury.

While there was media controversy about divisions over homosexuality and same-sex marriage, the bishops from Exeter Diocese said the atmosphere within the conference community was much more collaborative and collegiate than the headlines portrayed.

Bishop Robert with his conference study group

The Rt. Rev’d Robert Atwell said, “It was an unbelievable thrill to be part of an assembly of over 1400 bishops and their spouses from across the world praying the Our Father in our own language.

“It was a cacophony of prayer to God, like Pentecost.

“It embodied what we mean by being ‘Part of One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and I am proud to be part of the Anglican Communion.”

“I have come back with much to reflect upon, actions to take and great hope in my heart.” The Rt Rev’d Jackie Searle, Bishop of Crediton

Bishop Robert attended the conference along with the Bishop of Crediton, the Rt. Rev’d Jackie Searle, the Bishop of Plymouth, the Rt. Rev’d Nick McKinnel and Assistant Bishop, the Rt. Rev’d Mark Rylands, who chairs the Devon-based Melanesian Mission UK.

Rev’d Nathan Kiyaga, from Torquay (pictured here drumming), was part of the conference worship team

This was the first Lambeth Conference since England’s first female bishop was consecrated in 2015.

Bishop Jackie said “It has been an extraordinary experience and huge honour.

“Highlights include the services in Canterbury Cathedral, the singing and worship, the band (including Torbay Area Dean, Rev’d Nathan Kiyaga) were inspiring.

The teaching – doing Bible studies with people from such different cultures and life experience opening both mind and heart, being theologically stretched and challenged, the realisation that our reach and voice together can be so powerful, for example when speaking about climate change, poverty, or gender-based violence.

Lizzy Flaherty, from Holsworthy, was a volunteer steward at the conference

Primarily it was about relationship – my small group had bishops who could not have been more different in terms of context and theology, we were able to understand more about each other, and commit to pray for one another.

“The opportunity to meet as Christian leaders from all over the world has the power to be transformative, and I have come back with much to reflect upon, actions to take and great hope in my heart.”

The Bishop of Plymouth, who retires at the end of August, said it had brought home to him the struggles faced by Christians in other parts of the world: “My abiding memory amidst all the colour, music and languages from around the world is of the resilience of Christians in the face of poverty, violence, persecution and civil war.

“So many of the bishops came from places where people struggle to survive but do so with a joyful faith and resilient hope in Christ.”

Click here for more about the Lambeth conference. You can view the photo gallery here.