Lambeth Conference 2021

The Fourteenth Lambeth Conference (2008) - Presided over by Abp Rowan Williams

The Archbishop of Canterbury will invite more than 900 bishops from the worldwide Anglican Communion to Lambeth Conference in Canterbury, England, in the summer of 2021. The theme of the conference is “God’s Church for God’s World: walking, listening and witnessing together.”

The Compass Rose Society supports the mission of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion. Since 1994, we have donated over $12 million to the work of the Communion.

We’re continuing our support by raising scholarships for bishops who need financial assistance to attend Lambeth 2021. We hope to raise $1 million with 100 scholarships of $10,000 each by May of 2021.

The scholarships will be need-based and provided on application to the Anglican Communion Office in London who will receive and disburse the scholarship funds (please do not apply for a scholarship to the Compass Rose Society.) Or to discuss other methods of financial assistance, direct inquiries to

Send scholarship contributions to:

Compass Rose Society

Lambeth Conference Scholarship Fund
1225 Texas Ave
Houston, TX  77002

A full scholarship donation of $10,000 entitles non-members to full membership in the Compass Rose Society. Background of the Society and its and benefits are outlined at

Please contribute generously to assist the bishops who need financial assistance to attend Lambeth Conference.


The Lambeth Conference was first held in 1867. Seventy-Six bishops attended. This is the fifteenth conference

For the first time, at the 2021 Lambeth Conference there will be a joint program for bishops and spouses.

Lambeth Conferences are usually held every 10 years. The last one was in 2008.

1,800+ attendees bishops spouses and officials expected to attend


Wikipedia citation: Wikipedia contributors, "Lambeth Conference," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed May 4, 2018).

The Lambeth Conference is a decennial assembly of bishops of the Anglican Communion convened by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The first such conference took place in 1867.

The First Lambeth Conference (1867) – Presided over by Abp Charles Longley

As the Anglican Communion is an international association of autonomous national and regional churches and not a governing body, the Lambeth Conferences serve a collaborative and consultative function, expressing "the mind of the communion" on issues of the day. Resolutions which a Lambeth Conference may pass are without legal effect, but they are nonetheless influential. So, although the resolutions of conferences carry no legislative authority, they "do carry great moral and spiritual authority." "Its statements on social issues have influenced church policy in the churches."
These conferences form one of the communion's four "Instruments of Communion".

Origins of the conference

The idea of these meetings was first suggested in a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury by Bishop John Henry Hopkins of Vermont in 1851. The possibility of such an international gathering of bishops had first emerged during the jubilee of the Church Missionary Society in 1851 when a number of US bishops were present in London. However, the initial impetus came from episcopal churches in Canada. In 1865 the synod of that province, in an urgent letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, (Charles Thomas Longley), represented the unsettlement of members of the Canadian church caused by recent legal decisions of the Privy Council and their alarm lest the revived action of convocation "should leave us governed by canons different from those in force in England and Ireland, and thus cause us to drift into the status of an independent branch of the Catholic Church". They therefore requested him to call a "national synod of the bishops of the Anglican Church at home and abroad", to meet under his leadership. After consulting both houses of the Convocation of Canterbury, Archbishop Longley assented and convened all the bishops of the Anglican Communion (then 144 in number) to meet at Lambeth in 1867.

Many Anglican bishops (amongst them the Archbishop of York and most of his suffragans) felt so doubtful as to the wisdom of such an assembly that they refused to attend it, and Dean Stanley declined to allow Westminster Abbey to be used for the closing service, giving as his reasons the partial character of the assembly, uncertainty as to the effect of its measures and "the presence of prelates not belonging to our Church".[5]

Archbishop Longley said in his opening address, however, that they had no desire to assume "the functions of a general synod of all the churches in full communion with the Church of England", but merely to "discuss matters of practical interest, and pronounce what we deem expedient in resolutions which may serve as safe guides to future action".

The resolutions of the Lambeth Conferences have never been regarded as synodical decrees, but "their weight has increased with each conference."]

Seventy-six bishops accepted the primate's invitation to the first conference, which met at Lambeth on 24 September 1867 and sat for four days, the sessions being in private. The archbishop opened the conference with an address: deliberation followed; committees were appointed to report on special questions; resolutions were adopted, and an encyclical letter was addressed to the faithful of the Anglican Communion. Each of the subsequent conferences has been first received in Canterbury Cathedral and addressed by the archbishop from the chair of St Augustine.

From the Second Conference, they have then met at Lambeth Palace, and after sitting for five days for deliberation upon the fixed subjects and appointment of committees, have adjourned, to meet again at the end of a fortnight and sit for five days more, to receive reports, adopt resolutions and to issue their encyclical letter.]

The Fifth Lambeth Conference (1908) – Presided over by Abp Randall Davidson

From 1978 onwards the conference has been held on the Canterbury campus of the University of Kent allowing the bishops to live and worship together on the same site for the first time. In 1978 the bishops' spouses were accommodated at the nearby St Edmund's School (an Anglican private school); this separation of spouses was not felt helpful, indeed, the wife of Archbishop Desmond Tutu was famously observed] climbing in through the window of her husband's room to visit him, since the doors were locked] Since 1988 the spouses have also lived at the university.


  • Conference of Bishops of the Anglican Communion, Encyclical Letter, etc. (London, 1897 and 1908).
  • Dewi Morgan, Lambeth Speaks (London: A.R. Mowbray, 1958). N.B.: This is a sampling of authoritative texts from various Lambeth Conferences across the years.


This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Lambeth Conferences". Encyclopædia Britannica. 16 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 110–111

Bibliographic details for "Lambeth Conference"


Join as an individual or form a chapter of several members. There are parish, diocesan, and cathedral chapters within the Society. Share in the annual meeting: visit Lambeth Palace or Canterbury Cathedral; join in a question and answer session and dinner with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Meet fellow Anglicans while traveling on Communion Visits throughout the world or study our Anglican heritage on location.

Individual membership includes an invitation for the member (or couple) and up to two guests to attend the Society’s annual events and Communion Visits. With a parish membership, the rector and guest and two parish members may attend. Four members of a chapter may attend. With a diocesan membership, the bishop, a guest, and two members may attend. Attendees pay their travel expenses.
For more information, please email Tami Hawkins.