Discussion Notes for “Lambeth and a history of LGBTQ life in the Episcopal/Anglican Church”

Foreword:  There is so much more to this story than these notes can convey. The stories are personal stories like that of Carter Heywood or Pauli Murray or even our own Sean and Luigi. But these notes are intended only as a start to a conversation and to help add some context for those conversations. 

The Lambeth Conference:  Background

The first conference was in 1867 and is held roughly every ten years. It is called by the Archbishop of Canterbury by invitation.

This year there are more than 650 Anglican/Episcopal Bishops worldwide attending the Conference.

Demographics of the Anglican Communion:

Roughly 85,000,000 members worldwide; 3rd largest denomination.

Rank    Country                       Anglican Church Membership

1          Nigeria                         17,500,000

2          United Kingdom         13,400,000

3          Uganda                       8,000,000

4          Sudan                          5,000,000

5          Australia                     3,800,000

6          Kenya                          2,500,000

7          United States              2,300,000

8          Tanzania                     2,000,000

9          West Indies                 777,000

10        Canada                       642,000


“Calls” is the term used this year instead of “Resolutions.” The idea was to have Bishops discuss and then give an impression on a given subject.

Note:  Lambeth is “not a Synod” therefore it has no legislative authority, but it rests on moral and theological influence as a source of authority among its many autonomous Provinces.

Theme 2022: ‘God’s Church for God’s World – walking, listening and witnessing together,’ the conference will explore what it means for the Anglican Communion to be responsive to the needs of a 21st Century world.

Major area of contention:  Human Sexuality and marriage.

News Headlines:

Divisions in Anglican church on show as Lambeth conference opens The Guardian 29 July 2022

“The Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches, led by the archbishop of South Sudan and claiming to represent 75% of all Anglicans around the globe, has declared one of its four priorities to be sounding a “clarion call to biblical faithfulness”, including a reaffirmation of the 1998 Lambeth conference motion.”

Sexuality Dispute Ends with Call to Truth and Unity The Living Church 2 August 2022

“For the large majority of the Anglican Communion the traditional understanding of marriage is something that is understood, accepted, and without question, not only by bishops but their entire church, and the societies in which they live. For them, to question this teaching is unthinkable, and in many countries would make the church a victim of derision, contempt, and even attack. For many churches to change traditional teaching challenges their very existence.

“For a minority, we can say almost the same. They have not arrived lightly at their ideas that traditional teaching needs to change. They are not careless about Scripture. They do not reject Christ. But they have come to a different view on sexuality after long prayer, deep study, and reflection on understandings of human nature. For them, to question this different teaching is unthinkable, and in many countries is making the church a victim of derision, contempt, and even attack. For these churches not to change traditional teaching challenges their very existence ….”

Historic Notes:

1974 Louie Crew (who has spoken at St. Anna’s) founded INTEGRITY as an LGBTQ advocacy voice.

1976 Convention 1976-A071 “homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church”

1994 General Convention amended the church’s canons to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, providing equal access to the rites and worship of The Episcopal Church, including ordination

1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10 affirmed marriage is “between a man and a woman” it was promoted during the Office of Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold and Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey. It was promoted by conservative Bishops contemplating a push by LGBTQ+ churches to redefine marriage. [Note: for what it is worth this is just 3 years after the peak of the AIDS epidemic]

2003 V. Gene Robinson – elected first open gay partnered Bishop by 1 vote.

2006 Windsor Report crafted by Anglican Communion under leadership of Archbishop Rowan Williams

2012 National Episcopal Church authorizes “Same Sex Blessings” AND “the canons of The Episcopal Church were amended to prohibit discrimination in the ordination process based on gender identity and gender expression”

2015 National Episcopal Church allows Same Sex Marriage and calls for a “name change” rite to honor an important moment in the lives of anyone claiming their true identity.

2017 The Scottish Episcopal Church allows Same Sex Marriage

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry August 2022, Lambeth: https://twitter.com/PB_Curry/status/1554614551227809798?s=20&t=W8ZAZsvM3VtyKvpUcwwUnw