[Nov. 2—Anglican Communion News Service] Bishop Sally French, along with nearly 30 other new Anglican bishops from around the world—affectionately nicknamed “baby bishops”—were welcomed to the Anglican Communion Office (ACO) in west London today. They are taking part in a 10-day course run by Canterbury Cathedral—the mother church of the Anglican Communion—to learn about the role of a bishop and the Anglican Communion.
The training program includes talks, presentations, and workshops and a chance to build networks and relationships with other new bishops across cultural and geographical divides. The “Baby Bishops” course usually takes place annually, but this is the first since 2019, the gap being forced by the Covid-pandemic.
This year’s cohort comes from Australia, Bangladesh, Barbados, Burundi, Canada, Fiji, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Tanzania and the United States.
Their time at the ACO has included presentations and discussions on different areas of work undertaken by staff at the ACO, including unity, faith and order, gender justice, communications, advocacy with the United Nations, and the Anglican Alliance.
The Bishop for Episcopal Ministry in the Anglican Communion, Jo Bailey Wells, has been supporting the program in Canterbury by offering daily Bible studies and some teaching each morning, including small group work. She welcomed the Bishops to the Anglican Communion Office today. “it is such a joy to welcome these 28 bishops to the Anglican Communion Office,” she said. “I don’t know what they expected, but for them to see the back office of the Anglican Communion where all the dots are joined together behind the scenes and the ways in which we can resource and serve them and magnify their work and their connectedness with each other is what it is all about.
“For me the big moment was just now at the eucharist in the chapel when we started singing. You could hear the different voices and yet you hear the harmony. That says something about the Anglican Communion deep in my soul.”
The Bishop of Western Tanganyika, Emmanuel Bwatta, is one of those taking part in the course. He said: “it is very inspiring to be here especially as a new bishop and learning about what it means to be a bishop in the Anglican Communion especially connecting with other bishops from around the world.”
Bishop Paul Swarup of Delhi said: “it has been good to meet so many bishops from across the Anglican Communion and learn from each of them. I will take back the relationships and connections that I am making with people from across the globe.”
The Bishop of New Jersey, Sally French, is one of four female bishops in the cohort. She became bishop in June this year so missed last year’s gathering of the Lambeth Conference. She said: “this is wonderful! I’m a brand-new bishop and because of Covid haven’t had a lot opportunities to connect with others from around the world. This is the first time that I have been able to spend 11 to 12 days to learn and connect. It is an amazing gift. One of the gifts of this gathering is the opportunity to experience the strengths of the full Anglican Communion. I’m hopeful for our common future and inspired by my sister and brother bishops.