By Odogwu Emeka Odogwu
Anglican parishes and dioceses across England, Wales and Scotland are gearing up to welcome more than 1,000 Anglican bishops and spouses from across the globe in July 2020.
The delegates, who will be attending the 15th Lambeth Conference in Canterbury, hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, will travel from over 165 countries from across the Communion.
The event provides an opportunity to build relationships and create new ones, not just between bishops and spouses, but between churches, dioceses, communities and countries across the world. And the Lambeth Conference Company is helping to coordinate the special welcome called, 'The Big Hello' that will be rolled out from churches.
According to Phil George, Lambeth Conference Company CEO, the conference is a once-a-decade international event for which the hospitality is really important. He said, 'Our prayer is that it creates a chance to say 'a big hello' to one another and learn from cultures and traditions in other settings.'
The Big Hello will connect attendees to their companion link diocese or provide the opportunity for new ones to be started. So far over 84% of bishops and spouses booked for the conference.
'One of the joys of the Lambeth Conference is that we have many people from across the world together to share what we have in common,' Mike Fawcett, the Diocese of Rochester's Companion link coordinator, said.
Reception will begin from the moment attendees arrive at airports through to travel to their accommodation in churches and communities. Parishes taking part have a range of activities planned, including parish visits, pilgrimages, local sightseeing and community days.
Along with vital rest and relaxation after long journeys, bishops and spouses will be able to join in local church services, enjoy a range of activities from cricket matches to visits to tourist spots. There will also be opportunities for dialogue on key issues and sharing ideas on ministry and mission.
Maika Scales, Zambia programme coordinator in the Diocese of Bath and Wells said, 'We just love it when we get to meet international bishops, particularly, and we love it when we get to hear what life is like for them. So it's a great opportunity to get all churches and young people, as well as people from all ages involved and to hear what international bishops do in their field and in their countries.’