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Archbishop to visit Birmingham diocese

Wednesday 12th November 2008

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams is visiting the diocese of Birmingham on 15th and 16th November.

The Bishop of Birmingham, Rt Revd David Urquhart, said "I am delighted to welcome the Archbishop to the city and join him as he visits the region. There is much to celebrate in this city and region of faiths where God is taken seriously and faith communities listen, respect and appreciate each other".

On Saturday 15th November Dr Williams will officially open The Springfield Centre at St Christopher's Church, Springfield, and meet with parents, children, staff and volunteers from the Centre.

The Archbishop said: "The Springfield Centre is a further example of the Church of England's Presence & Engagement programme, which emphasises the positive contribution of parish churches in multi religious neighbourhoods."

The Springfield Centre has grown out of the work of The Springfield Project, a community project established in 2000 by St Christopher's Church, a local parish church in a multi cultural neighbourhood.  The new £2m Centre was primarily financed and built by Birmingham City Council as the home of the Springfield Children's Centre, a 'one stop shop' provision for families with children under the age of 5. 

The Archbishop will join members of the congregation and others from the local community in the church, where he will take part in a Service of Thanksgiving and give a homily. After a ribbon-cutting ceremony the Archbishop will join children to create a plaque made of handprints to celebrate the opening of the centre. He will meet 8-13 year-olds from an after-school project who have written a rap for the occasion, parents and children who access the Family Support service, members of Seedlings Stay and Play group and children and families who attend Mini Springers Nursery.  During his visit the Archbishop will also meet Dr Andrew Smith, leader of the Youth Encounter Centre which trains Christian youth workers based in multi faith settings.

The Archbishop will visit the Venkataswara (Balaji) Temple, in the Diocese of Lichfield, where he will unveil a plaque to commemorate his visit and the friendship between Christian and Hindu communities in the United Kingdom.  His Excellency Mr. Shiv Shankar Mukherjee, High Commissioner of India will be amongst the distinguished guests, who will also include representatives from major Faiths in the United Kingdom. The Archbishop will be welcomed in the traditional Thirupathi manner with a garland and will be shown around the interior of the temple where he will have the opportunity of meeting with members of the temple community. Dr Williams will not be engaging in any religious ceremonies while at the Temple.

In his recent Diwali message the Archbishop said; "I warmly welcome the invitation by the Trustees of the Temple, and at this time of year my visit will carry particular significance. My hope for this year ahead is that in the spirit of looking to the light, we shall be able to find reconciliation where there has been division and hurt and work for peace and the rejection of all resort to violence."

On Sunday 16th November the Archbishop will preach at a service at St Philip's Cathedral, with the Bishop of Birmingham, Rt Revd David Urquhart, presiding.

Dr Williams will also meet with the Birmingham Faith Leaders Group at the City Hall.

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