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Lambeth Conference in Canterbury postponed until 2022

The Lambeth Conference, which attracts more than a 1,000 church leaders from around the world to Kent, will now not take place until 2022, the Archbishop of Canterbury said today.

It had been due to take place in Canterbury this month but was cancelled in March as the Covid-19 pandemic escalated.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

There was an expectation the 10-day gathering would be rescheduled for 2021 but Archbishop Justin Welby has just revealed a longer postponement until the summer of the following year.

He made the announcement in a video address on the Lambeth Conference website this afternoon, also saying a wider programme would be developed before and after the event, much delivered virtually.

He and conference planning teams have been monitoring the pandemic situation and following advice from public and global health authorities about the impact in their countries.

He said:"As with most large scale events and conferences of this nature - planning for events in such an unstable climate is difficult.

"As an international gathering - the Lambeth Conference invites bishops and spouses from over 165 countries - there are a significant number of uncertainties that make preparations for a 2021 meeting challenging.

Bishops attend the Lambeth Conference from around the world
Bishops attend the Lambeth Conference from around the world

"While some lock down measures are starting to ease in some countries, social distancing measures, travel restrictions and quarantine measures could impede logistics and delegates’ travel planning for the foreseeable future.

"There are also the risks of a potential second wave of the virus and the reality that there are different phases in how the pandemic is spreading around the world – with no vaccine yet available.

"The safety and health of conference delegates is of utmost priority to the Lambeth Conference Company.

"In addition, bishops and spouses attending the conference have an important leadership role in their dioceses. "As well as providing pastoral support to their churches and congregations, many are also involved in coordinating volunteering and bolstering support services, as churches of the Anglican Communion play their part in responding to the COVID-19 crisis around the world.

"In consideration of all these factors –the decision has been taken to postpone until the British summer of 2022.

"While the challenges of the pandemic will be ongoing for many years to come, it is hoped that by holding the event in 2022, restrictions on large events and travel may have eased making conditions more favourable for this important gathering to occur."

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