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Archbishop Urges Church to do More for the Young

Wednesday 21st July 2004

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who is on an eight-day visit to the Church of the Province of Melanesia, has told a gathering of more than a thousand young people that the Anglican Church has to do more to relate to them and their concerns.

Speaking in St Barnabas Cathedral in Honiara, Dr Williams declared:

"The church doesn't always seem the most attractive place to go. We don't always take account of the needs of young people or let them have a part in planning worship.

"They will come when they feel they are being taken seriously; when they have the opportunity to ask questions and when they have the chance to develop as people within the church. And the Church in our country is beginning to discover how to do this a little better, although we have a long way to go.

"All of us in the Church in positions of leadership and authority – and I say this to myself above all – need to be aware of what we have to learn from the concerns and the faith and the witness and the questions of our young people."

Dr Williams praised churches and parishes which have worked to include young people's voices in their decision making and consultation processes. He also highlighted the recent decision to invite young people's representatives speak at the General Synod of the Church of England.

During his second day in the province of Melanesia, Dr Williams made courtesy calls on the Governor General of the Solomon Islands, Mr Nathaniel Waena, and on the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, the Hon. Sir Allan Kemakeza, who hosted a lunch in the Archbishop's honour.

The Archbishop then visited the National Referral Hospital in Honiara and led prayers for staff and for some of the three hundred patients. Dr Williams also paid a pastoral visit to Rove Prison, where many of those accused of crimes relating to the recent inter-communal unrest are detained. Appealing to fellow Christians he emphasised the Gospel message of repentance and renewal:

"It cannot be easy for you to listen to someone who comes from the other side of the world and who doesn't know you. And yet I know that you are brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. I can say to you, not as an Archbishop, not as a leader, but also as a brother in Christ, a brother who is also called to change, called to discover forgiveness and also called to be patient and trustworthy and joyful, in order that we can change to show God more faithfully."

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