Williams to address unity as new church splits emerge
The Archbishop of Canterbury is to give a keynote address at a major conference on christian unity next week, as new splits in the Church arise from the ranks of the countryís Evangelicals.
More than 800 delegates will take part in the conference, entitled "May they all be one...but how?", with people travelling from across the UK and Ireland for the event in St Albans.
However at the weekend new divisions within the church emerged as the Church Society announced that it wanted the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) to withdraw an invitation to Dr Williams to speak later this year at another conference.
Dr Williams has already accepted the invitation to take part in the National Evangelical Anglican Congress (NEAC) in Blackpool in September where he has been asked to open the conference and lead prayers.
But speaking on the Radio 4ís Sunday Programme general secretary of the Church Society David Philips said; ìInviting Rowan Williams ñ because of his own views on the nature of the bible ñ would contradict the message that the conference is trying to put out.î
The Church Society says that it ìcannot accept his spiritual authorityî because of the Archbishopís approach to scripture.
The growing divide between more conservative evangelicals and the rest of the Church of England, is the kind of thing that the conference on Christian unity will be seeking to address.
Canon Iain Lane, Director of the St Albans Centre for Christian Studies, said, "Everyone is happy to affirm that Christian unity is important, but in reality progress is slow and often churches seem to have become focused only on the theological and institutional issues.î
"There is a need for renewed energy in all aspects of the search for unity, and a new emphasis on a shared experience of prayer, social action, engagement with the Bible and the expression of the gospel in and through the creative arts.î
Keynote speakers at the conference include Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity and a leading Catholic theologian; and the Revd Elizabeth Welch, Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church 2001/2 and a former member of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches.
The conference is jointly organised by: The Newman Association, the Catholic organisation promoting an informed laity; The Society for Ecumenical Studies, an organisation committed to the search for Christian unity through dialogue, study, and mutual understanding; and the St Albans Centre for Christian Studies, an ecumenical centre for Christian learning based at St Albans Cathedral.
The conference is being held at St Albans Abbey, Hertfordshire, on Saturday 17 May.