The Zambia link was first suggested in 1978 when ‘Partnership in Mission’ was a growing idea around the Anglican Communion. Bishop Jack Cunningham had retired to Somerset after working for some time in Central Zambia and The Rt Revd John Bickersteth, Bishop of Bath & Wells at the time, was keen to build on that connection.
There are now about 50/60 parish links. During the four decades since it was first established there have also been links with St Francis Hospital, the Seminary of St John the Evangelist, Employment & Training Centres, Mission Stations, Street Kids Projects and schools.
The main emphasis of the Link has always been on building relationships through prayer, correspondence and visits. It has grown and prospered with regular exchange visits by priests, doctors, school staff, students, diocesan staff and members of congregations. Overtime many good friendships have also been formed.
For more than 40 years Bath & Wells and the Zambian Dioceses have worked together on global justice issues; such as the Trade Justice Campaign and Make Poverty History. And they have come together to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS, Gender-based Violence, Environmental concerns, Climate Change, and many other issues.
Representatives from both ends of the link have been involved in clergy exchanges, clergy & lay training days, diocesan conferences, Christian Aid campaigns, USPG events, Linking seminars, Anglican Communion conferences, and national celebrations.
Bishops McCulloch, Thompson, Price, Radford, Maurice, Assistant Bishop John Neale, and the current Bishops of Bath and Wells and Taunton, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock and the Rt Revd Ruth Worsley, have all spent time in Zambia and enjoyed the hospitality and friendship of our Zambian brothers and sisters. The Zambian bishops have also made many visits to Bath & Wells. In 2009 they travelled to the UK to take part in events to commemorate the 1100th Anniversary of the foundation of the Diocese and we look forward to hosting them again at the next Lambeth Conference.