Since the first Lambeth Conference in 1867, the responsibility for the agenda of the Lambeth Conference and the authority to issue invitations to the meeting has been the sole authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury. This remains so today.
For a majority of its history, only diocesan bishops were invited to the conference. In recent decades, suffragan and assisting bishops were included. In his 2005 Advent letter to the Primates of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams similarly indicated that "those invited will include stipendiary suffragan and stipendiary assistant bishops as well as diocesans" of the churches of the Anglican Communion.
Of course the question remains: What does it mean to be a church in good standing in the Anglican Communion, and who decides?
A small working group of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates considered the actions of the 75th General Convention and found the Episcopal Church's response to the Windsor Report to be largely adequate. Their deliberations were presented to the Archbishop of Canterbury and then the Primates' Meeting in February 2007 in Tanzania. These considerations will inform the discernment of the Archbishop of Canterbury as to invitations to the next Lambeth Conference.
For those bishops coming to the 2008 Lambeth Conference, it is important to see the conference as an opportunity to meet God and other bishops in a prayerful, biblically informed spirit of mutual responsibility and interdependence in the body of Christ. An invitation to the Lambeth Conference should not be seen as an unqualified embrace of a bishop's or church's theological and/or ecclesiastical position. Neither should it be taken as an opportunity to advance a particular political or ecclesiological agenda. Rather in the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth 2008 will focus on equipping bishops to be leaders in God's mission and, as such, "should be a chance for individual Christian pastors to meet Jesus afresh, for our church to be renewed in mission, for the world to hear the good news." May it be so.