Bishop Robert: Praying for the Wider Anglican Communion

Bishop Robert writes:

Praying for the Wider Anglican Communion

The Corona virus increases our fear and anxiety. We naturally worry about our own families, especially if we are separated from them. National leaders rightly prioritise the wellbeing of their own citizens. And national churches are inevitably concerned foremost with their own territories. But this proper familiar and local concern can easily lead us to neglect the needs of the wider world.

After Easter I was due to attend the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches. Its meeting was postponed to August – and there are surely questions about whether this large international conference can happen then. In July, Bishop David and I were supposed to be attending the 10-yearly Lambeth Conference for bishops from all over the world. But it was postponed until 2021, Virus permitting. These big gatherings are major opportunities for Christian leaders from across the globe to meet, be informed about the realities and challenges we face and support one another. What is more, the Anglican Communion Office has furloughed most of their staff, and the Archbishop of Canterbury is not able to undertake international visits. In this context, we have to work harder at pan-Anglican fellowship and mutual understanding.

The Diocese in Europe represents about a quarter of the countries in the Anglican Communion. The Archdeaconry of Gibraltar is linked with the Diocese of Peru, and the Archdeaconry of North West Europe is linked with the Diocese of Luweero in Uganda. And we have many members who have migrated from countries in the global south.   Our diocese is, arguably, that part of the Church of England which is most open to the rest of the world.

I was therefore delighted to have opportunity to preach at the Anglican Communion Office’s virtual Sunday service for the fifth Sunday in Easter. Other contributors to the worship came from Papua New Guinea, Mexico, Malaysia and Hong Kong. I took as my text John 14:1 – Jesus encourages his disciples ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me.’ Seldom have Christians across Europe been so united with brothers and sisters across the globe in facing a common threat. In the face of our common fear and anxiety, Jesus exhorts us to deepen our faith and trust – to know the God who is truly our rock and our refuge in times of trouble.

The Virus brings a direct threat to health and an indirect threat to economic wellbeing. Of course, developing countries don’t have the health services we enjoy in the West – I’m told DRC has just 11 ICU beds with ventilators. But in the global south, where economies are fragile, the financial costs can be equally or more catastrophic. Lockdowns mean crops are not harvested. School closures can mean children miss their main meal. And financial downturns amongst Western importers mean business failures for exporters and impoverishment for populations.

The last two Bishop’s Appeals in our Diocese have been for wider Anglican Communion projects. The Advent 2019 Appeal was for the Anglican Communion Fund. The Lent 2020 Appeal is for a new school classroom in the Kenyan Diocese of Mumias. These appeals help to focus our prayers and concern as well as our giving.

A Christian lockdown spirituality will need to include a profound sense of gratitude for what we do have: developed health services, sophisticated economies and – for most of us – relatively pleasant homes in which to shelter. I do hope that, from that sense of gratitude will flow a concern for our brothers and sisters in other parts of the globe, where the Virus could be devastating. I hope they will know that we have not forgotten them. And I hope you will join me in committing to pray for our Anglican Communion partners in these difficult times.

For more information on the Anglican Communion, you can visit their website: