A spotlight on faith in our communities

First published 3rd September 2014

People across Bristol, Swindon and the Westcountry are looking forward to the weekend of Friday 12 to Sunday 14 September when the Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Rev Justin Welby is set to visit churches, schools and communities in the Diocese of Bristol.

The visit promises to shine a spotlight on the wealth and diversity of activities engaged in by Christians in the region, as the Archbishop meets local people and offers encouragement for the valuable work they do.

Highlights of the Archbishops time in the region will include taking part in a Q&A session with sixth-formers at St Mary Redcliffe & Temple School; baptising new Christians aged 10 to 70 at a special outdoor service at Malmesbury Abbey; officially launching Heritage Open Days at Lydiard Park; meeting people helped out of debt by Christians Against Poverty (CAP); and a late night walk around Kingswood with the Street Pastors.

Archbishop Justin will also take centre stage at a unique event in Bristol Cathedral on Friday 12 September, where he and others will explore some of the big questions around life and faith, sharing their personal stories and experiences. Featuring live music, film, exhibitions and conversation, the Standing Room Only event will see all the seating stripped out of the Cathedral and is aimed at non-church-goers and those curious about the Christian faith to come and find out more.

The Archbishop returns to Bristol Cathedral, the mother church of the diocese, on the morning of Sunday 13 September where he will preach at the Eucharist service. He will then take part in a question time event led by Bristol Cathedral at which an invited panel and audience, including the Mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson, will discuss issues relating to the education and aspirations of children and young people in the city.

Releasing the energy of the Church

It is hoped, particularly through events like Standing Room Only at Bristol Cathedral and the Baptism Celebration at Malmesbury Abbey that the visit will serve as a catalyst to release the energy of the Church to reach out to the wider community and share the love of God with more people.

"Sharing the good news of the Christian faith"

This is a hope very much echoed by Archbishop Justin who says:

I am greatly looking forward to visiting the Diocese of Bristol in September, having heard about all that God is doing there through his Church. I am particularly delighted that one of the themes of the visit will be creating confidence in sharing the good news of the Christian faith, which is one of the priorities for my ministry. We have extraordinarily good news to share about what God has done for people in Jesus Christ.

I pray that churches in the Westcountry will be inspired to show others, through their words and actions, how God has offered every one of us a new start.

"A new confidence and energy"

The Bishop of Bristol, Rt Rev Mike Hill, commented: Already the Archbishops forthcoming visit has excited and inspired many of us to a new confidence and energy in sharing our faith in Jesus Christ beyond our usual church circles.

We have a packed itinerary planned for Archbishop Justin designed to celebrate the considerable variety of activities the Church here in the Westcountry is involved in. Justin will be meeting young and old from inner city neighbourhoods to those in more rural communities; from committed Christians to those just embarking on their own faith journeys.

We pray that wherever he goes, Archbishop Justin will motivate us to grow in prayer, faith, discipleship and commitment; that he will inspire us with his presence and his words, and ignite in us anew the flame of and the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Dean of Bristol, the Very Revd Dr David Hoyle, added: We are very much looking forward to Archbishop Justins visit and to welcoming him to the Cathedral. It will be great to bring Christians together from across the Diocese to worship and to explore issues that are important in the city.

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