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Introducing the A.B.C.

Introducing the A.B.C. image

Archbishop Justin Welby will be visiting St Aldates on Sunday 18 October, at our 6pm service. This article offers a profile of the Archbishop before his visit.

In March 2013 within the space of three days, Archbishop Justin Welby and Pope Francis were enthroned and inaugurated as respective leaders of the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church. Many saw this as significant for the future of the worldwide Christian community, and both men have since shown extraordinary courage and wisdom in their leadership. 

The world of Christianity is enormously diverse. As far as the east is from the west are the differing views and convictions of those who call themselves Christians, from Orthodoxy to Catholicism to Protestantism with its multiplicity of expressions. If Christianity is diverse, so is Anglicanism, and Justin Welby accepted his appointment as Archbishop of its international communion at a time of challenge and complexity for the expression of Christian faith in a rapidly changing culture.

It has been said that while it took 500 years to embed Christianity in Europe and the West, it has taken a mere 50 for its very essence to be uprooted and for many of its tenets in the foundations in our legal system, created in the reign of Alfred the Great, to be overturned or muted.

So the church finds herself beleaguered, and Justin has a daunting task on his hands – but he is well equipped for it…

11 years in industry, encountering poverty and injustice in West Africa, Nigeria in particular, gave rise to writings on ethics and international finance. He was invited to join the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards in 2012, and thus could confidently comment on the unjust practices of the Wonga loans company in his first few months of office. Reconciliation work during his years as Canon of Coventry Cathedral shaped his passion for unity, and he acknowledges that his social thinking has been influenced by the Catholic approach, from the writings of Pope Leo (Rerum Novarum, 1891) to those of Pope Benedict (Caritas in Veritate, 2009). This year both Justin and Pope Francis have declared themselves on the inescapable connection between climate change and poverty, and challenged the church to work proactively for justice in this arena.

Justin is a leader of great stature, but also a man of humility, and one who is familiar with personal suffering; he and his wife Caroline’s seven-month-old daughter was killed in a car crash in France in 1983. He is a man of compassion as well as of passions… His passion for community was deeply influenced and nurtured by his friendship with the French Community, Le Chemin Neuf, and in September 2015 he launched The Community of St Anselm, making Lambeth Palace home to 16 young people, who are joined part time by another 40 to experience a year of prayer, another lifelong passion. 

The greatest of all our Archbishop’s passions is the person of Jesus Christ, to whom he never fails to direct people’s attention, be they individuals or the media. St Aldates is committed to support and pray faithfully for Justin throughout his episcopate, and we invite you to make a personal commitment to join with us in this.

Introducing the A.B.C.

Anita Cleverly, Staff Pastor