On Saturday 23 March (11am), around 1,000 people from across Kent braved sleet and snow to welcome the new Archbishop of Canterbury to the Diocese at a special service held in Canterbury Cathedral.
The service, entitled ‘Our Journey into Holy Week’, was the first service the Most Revd Justin Welby attended following his inauguration service on Thursday 21 March.
During the service the new Archbishop spoke of his experience of the Enthronement service which was broadcast live and attended by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, the Prime Minister, faith leaders and Anglican Bishops and Archbishops from across the world. He said: “It was extraordinary to see all the TV cameras and security and police, but once the West Door was open and it all began, it was uplifting, not terrifying.”
The Archbishop praised those who helped organise the event saying: “I was delighted by the Rolls Royce smoothness with which it ran.” The Dean of Canterbury, the Very Revd Robert Willis, who welcomed everyone to the service, added: “I was very proud of the team.”
The purpose of Saturday’s service was to welcome Archbishop Justin to the Diocese and County, and on the eve of Palm Sunday, to encourage people across the Diocese to think about the meaning of Holy Week and Easter.
When Archbishop Justin addressed the congregation, which included civic representatives, he described his arrival at the Cathedral on Wednesday as the team embarked on a dress rehearsal. “I saw a man with a sign around his waist that said ‘Archbishop’ and I asked him,
‘Do you want the job?’. He replied that he was not really up to it, to which I said, ‘That makes two of us.’” Continuing this theme, Archbishop Justin commented: “Anyone who thinks they are fit and worthy to be employed in God’s service is a mug. None of us are truly fit for God’s service.”
The Archbishop, later spoke about the journey through to Easter: “During Holy Week, Jesus calls us to him again and opens the way for us to know God so that we can answer his call.” He continued: “We reflect on how much God loves and how he makes us fit to be his partners in this world. We have to accept his call and invitation and be willing. Most of us don’t like it that it is that simple. We want to make it more complicated. But the deal is simply to say ‘yes’ to him.’
Groups, representing the life of the Diocese participated in the service including Canterbury Christ Church University Gospel Choir who sang two Easter songs and the Cathedral choir who sang a verse from Bach’s Passion Chorale. Others offered reflections and chose hymns that the congregation sang including Jane Roberts, a representative from the Kent Charity Network, who spoke about the role of volunteers in building community. Additional Lent reflections came from the Diocesan Adviser for Women’s Ministry, the Revd Sheila Cox, from Dean Robert and from the Bishop of Dover, the Right Reverend Trevor Willmott.
Children from the choir of Bredgar Church of England Primary School, one of the 103 Church of England Schools in the Diocese, also took part in the service by explaining what Easter means to them, before singing the first verse of a hymn they chose for the occasion – ‘Servant King’ by Graham Kendrick. The choir of Bredgar Primary was invited to sing following their successful public performance singing ‘Silent Night’ on a Radio two programme with Cliff Richard, which was broadcast on Christmas Day.
The service ended with a blessing by the Most Revd Ian Ernest, the Archbishop of the Indian Ocean, a province in the Anglican Communion which is linked to Canterbury Diocese.-Ends-
For further Information: Emily Shepherd, Director of Communications, Canterbury Diocese –
07876 210 446 or firstname.lastname@example.org