ARCHBISHOP Justin has spoken of the “spiritual hunger” he encountered in his “extraordinary” mission to Dorset and Wiltshire this weekend.
At a closing service in Salisbury Cathedral Close, he spoke of encounters with people of all ages who asked him how they could become a Christian.
He said he had encountered a “constant sense of God at work in our society, in our lives, bringing people to faith and bringing them to a renewed desire for a just world”.
He repeated his commitment to the local church. “If we lose sight of the local in the Church of England, we lose sight of God.”
In an interview on stage Bishop Stephen how he distinguished between truth and noise in his role as Archbishop, when he was surrounded by so much noise and commentary.
He said: “For Christians our Biblical understanding is that truth is not an idea, a concept, a value it is a person. So how do we distinguish truth and noise? Truth draws towards Jesus, noise just confuses. Truth is what enables us to know forgiveness and hope and correction and repentance and change and love and rebuke – noise doesn’t do any of those beautiful, wonderful things.”
The Archbishop’s Mission took in a service in a prison at Erlestoke on Sunday morning, spending time with members of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community in Poole, a visit to a communities in Larkhill, worship with 350 youngsters at Resound in Poole, a meeting with community and business leaders in Portland, the dedication of Hope House at St John’s in Weymouth and a visit to a church primary school, Archbishop Wake CE school, in Blandford. Read more about these visits.
The weekend was framed by time with the military. Some 40 per cent of the British army is based within the diocese and on Friday morning Archbishop Justin went to Lyneham to meet with cadets and trainees. At the end of the weekend, following the celebration service, he attended the signing of the Military Covenant between the diocese and the army, which pledges the diocese will support military communities.
The Archbishop commissioned everyone present for the final service to go out live out the new diocesan vision to Make Jesus Known.
He said: “Your charge is to make Jesus known. Your charge is to make Jesus known to the upcoming generations from the youngest upwards. Your charge is to give al Christians in this diocese, of all churches and denominations the confidence, the courage and the skill to make Jesus known in every place to every person, in the local, in the way that is right where you are. It is to listen to the God who calls you, to be his visible presence in this diocese to hear , to unite together whatever you may disagree over, not being unanimous but being united that in each community, each chaplaincy, each parish each benefice, each place where ministry is exercised, each place of work, in hospitals and prisons, that you make Jesus known.”
Bishop Stephen said: “After an amazing mission weekend, when lives have been changed, our task as a diocese is to be working together, in unity, making Jesus known.”
Diocesan synod next week will meet to discuss the vision and its priorities, beginning a series of conversations in parishes, benefices and deaneries, about how Archbishop Justin’s commission can be lived out in every community.
For more photos from the mission, see our Flickr page.
Photo of closing service by Neil Turner/Lambeth Palace