Archbishop Justin has affirmed the local church saying ”when we lose sight of the local, we lose sight of reality” during his mission weekend in Dorset and Wiltshire.
Meeting community and business leaders on Portland, he said: “Its at the local, in schools, at the school gate, in the local surgery, working in partnership, that we are able to live out the reality of the love of Christ. The objective of the Church is very clear it is to proclaim Christ in season and out of season but that is done locally.”
He also spoke about leadership and urged a model founded in finding agreement among the disagreement, one that listened to all voices. “We have to meet the people we disagree with cutting ourselves off, cancelling people is wrong.”
He told local leaders: “Jesus worked at the local, he created churches he there and everywhere. It is our job to work in partnership with all of you and seek to build up the common good, for those who lead not to dominate but be a blessing to the country in which we live.”
The meeting with leaders was followed by a walk along Weymouth seafront, where he was asked by people he met for prayers and blessing. He met young people and volunteers at Hope House, a joint project with St John’s Weymouth and the Lantern Trust which offers mental health and wellbeing hub for all who need support. Archbishop Justin dedicated Hope House and joined a worship service outside, before heading to SML Poole for a service and a Q&A with almost 400 young people from Resound.
He had spend the first day of his mission at Lyneham, meeting trainees, before visiting Archbishop Wake CE primary school in Blandford for an outdoor service. There he was asked by Yaroslav, a year 6 pupil who joined the school after fleeing Ukraine last year, what Bible service he could offer Ukrainian refugees.
The Archbishop prayed for Yaroslav and his family, and all refugees and suggested Psalm 23, and Romans chapter 8. He also told of a time when he was kidnapped and was frightened, and how these Bible verses sustained him.
Meeting with members of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Community later, he endorsed the launch of the network of GRT friendly churches, at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Rossmore, which has long been welcoming members of the community. At the same time, at Appleby Horse Fair the Archbishop of York met travellers and called for churches to welcome- members of the GRT communities.
Both men apologised for the Church’s treatment of members of the community over decades. Find out more about the relaunch of the network here.
The Diocese of Salisbury has one of the Church’s only funded chaplaincy posts for the GTR community, held by Rev Canon Jonathan Herbert.
Archbishop Justin was asked by media about the barge that is to be housed off Portland for around 500 migrants. He said the government should delay its arrival and consult properly with local residents about what was needed to help the community support migrants.
Follow news of the mission weekend on our social channels #MakingJesusKnown.
Photo credits: Neil Turner/Lambeth Palace & Richard Hancock