Bishop Dill convenes with peers at Lambeth Conference
The Right Reverend Nicholas Dill, Bishop of Bermuda, just recently returned from the 2022 Lambeth Conference feeling inspired to focus on discipleship.
The Lambeth Conference is a gathering of Anglican bishops for prayer, reflection, fellowship and dialogue on church and world affairs. The conference is convened by The Archbishop of Canterbury, currently the Most Reverend Justin Welby, every ten years in Canterbury, England.
This year’s conference theme was “God’s Church, for God’s world” and explored what it means for the Anglican communion to respond to the needs of a 21st-century world. The conference covered topics ranging from mission and evangelism, discipleship, peace and reconciliation, Christian unity, and environment and sustainable development.
“I was a bit nervous when I went because I thought it was all going to be divided over issues of human sexuality, because that’s the big hot topic within the church,” Bishop Dill said.
“But we recognise you are not going to be able to solve that issue in 12 days and it would be completely divisive. So instead, we acknowledged it and held ourselves with reconciled differences so that we could focus on other things, such as issues of poverty, the legacy of slavery and colonialism, and how the church needs to be an instrument and voice for those who are marginalised.”
Global issues like these are relevant to the church and all fall within the Anglican communion’s five marks of mission, which include:
• To proclaim the good news of the kingdom
• To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
• To respond to human need by loving service
• To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation
• To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.
The conference brought together over 1,400 people from around the world, including 650 bishops, their spouses, and other ecumenical guests.
“It was absolutely awesome,” Bishop Dill said. “The picture you have from Revelation, chapter seven, which speaks of every tribe and tongue was literally seen here.
“The image one has of the Anglican Church being a White western institution was completely blown away at this conference. The majority of the Anglican church worldwide is from Africa, Latin America, and Asia. The church is growing rapidly in the midst of extraordinary suffering, deprivation and persecution in these parts of the world.”
For Bishop Dill, the amazing part of the experience was hearing the stories of the faith of these people and the churches that they represented and their evident joy and love of Christ.
The 2022 conference was run as joint conference for bishops and their spouses. Bishop Dill was joined by his wife, Fiona, who participated in a separate retreat, Bible studies and workshops designed specifically for spouses.
“Spouses’ role within the life of the church and within our ministry is critical,” Bishop Dill said. “They are the main support structure for any Bishop. It is truly a shared ministry.
“I think for Fiona and I, this experience was somewhat like a ministry reset. I am about halfway through my time as a bishop and it was great to be together to talk about these things, learn together and imagine where we want to be as a couple in church leadership.”
The conference also presented an opportunity for Bishop Dill to take off his “administrative hat” to learn from the experiences of others and reflect on ways to move the local Anglican church forward in ministry.
“I’ve got some processing to do over the next few months,” he said. “But there is a lot that we need to learn from. The church in the west is very insular. We are preoccupied looking inward rather than outward at the world around us.”
He said that while the Anglican church is very concerned with maintaining things, churches who are primarily focused on maintenance are eventually going to die.
“But those who are focused on mission and making disciples will see life and growth,” Bishop Dill said.
He has been leading the Anglican Church of Bermuda since 2013 and hopes that the remainder over his tenure will be filled with more “intentional and conscious discipleship”.
“I believe we need a renewed focus on evangelism and discipleship,” he said. “McDonald’s makes hamburgers and Starbucks makes coffee. What should the church be making? It should be making disciples – people filled with God’s love and inspired by Him to live their whole lives following and learning and walking in the steps of Jesus.”