Archbishop of York appeals for unity despite deep divisions

Bishops and ecumenical guests at the 2022 Lambeth Conference. (Photo: Lambeth Conference)

The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, has tried to bridge the deep divisions at the Lambeth Conference over sexual morality by calling on Anglican Communion bishops to show unity for the sake of evangelism.

In his address at the Mission and Evangelism Plenary on Saturday, Archbishop Cottrell told hundreds of bishops meeting at the University of Kent in Canterbury that "the world needs hope".

"What the world needs is the knowledge that peace can be found even with disagreement. And, brothers and sisters, isn't this a particular opportunity before us this week to show the world that, despite profound disagreement, what we have in Christ is larger and deeper?" he said.

He added: "And I want to say this: water is thicker than blood. It is our baptism that binds us together across the nations and tribes of our world."

When he was Bishop of Chelmsford, Stephen Cottrell sparked controversy when he told his Diocesan Synod in 2017 that the Church could not "ignore the culture in which we are set where same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage are not only considered normal, but positively taught and encouraged in many homes and schools as a social good".

He also commented: "It would be particularly foolish for us to ignore the missiological damage that is done when that which is held to be morally normative and desirable by much of society and by what seems to be a significant number of Anglican Christian people in this country, is deemed morally unacceptable by the Church.

"As I have said before, I am not sure the Church has ever before had to face the challenge of being seen as immoral by the culture in which it is set."

In his address at Lambeth 2022, Archbishop Cottrell called on the bishops of the Anglican Communion to be "messengers of the good news that God has lavished on us in Jesus Christ. Share with others what you have received.

"Bishops, evangelism is our core business too. We are called to lead evangelising churches in a world where there is so much need and confusion and what the world needs is what God has lavished upon us in Christ.

"The world needs humility - for we are destroying the earth itself," he said.

He added that the world needed reconciliation "because of the misuse of power and the vainglory of too many tinpot tyrants causing too much pain".

The Archbishop of Chile, Tito Zavala, also addressed the plenary session. He said churches should aim to be "mission-minded" rather than "maintenance-minded".

He spoke of the church planting initiatives he has encouraged in Chile. The Anglican Province of Chile formed in 2018, the 40th in the global Anglican Communion, which spans 165 countries.

The session, which included videos of young Anglicans telling their stories of how they came to Christian faith, was chaired by Elizabeth Oldfield, former director of religion and society think tank, Theos.