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This is an archived website containing material relating to Dr Rowan Williams’ time as Archbishop of Canterbury, which ended on 31st December 2012

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Archbishop visits Oxford diocese

Friday 6th May 2011

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, visited the Diocese of Oxford from 6-9 May

His schedule included:

Friday 6 May

  • The Archbishop addressed the Fresh Expressions national day conference in Oxford on Friday, where he said that the heart of the Church's mission involves walking alongside people to help them 'see' things they've never seen before - and the task was the same for both inherited church and its counterparts in fresh expressions [mp3] and [transcript]
  • At the Madjeski Academy in Reading the Archbishop joined Professor Keith Ward and Dr John Perry to discuss ‘Faith and Society’ with sixth form students from across Berkshire. Dr Williams gave a brief presentation on ‘Faith and Education’ in which he outlined the idea of education being about ‘the development of imagination … which is what gives our lives a sense of worth [mp3]
  • Reading University – the Archbishop delivered a lecture on the theme ‘Global Citizenship: limits and responsibilities’ in which he discussed the roots of what ‘citizenship’ meant in the classical world and what ‘global citizenship’ means today – namely that there are certain issues like the environmental crisis and pandemic diseases which do not stop at national boundaries and that, for the Christian believer, there is a conviction that no one is exempt, we all have responsibility for sustaining the human (and natural) environment [mp3]

 Saturday 7 May

  • A tree was planted in the churchyard of St Mary’s Banbury in commemoration of the Archbishop’s visit to the town. This was  organised by Tony Baldry, MP for North Oxfordshire, and Second Church Estates Commissioner
  • The Archbishop preached on the Gospel reading John 6:16 – 21 at a diocesan eucharist at St Mary’s, Banbury [mp3] after which he addressed clergy from the diocese during a teaching session entitled ‘One body, One spirit?’ [mp3]

Sunday 8 May

  • The Archbishop visited Bicester and blessed the site of the new Emmanuel Church, Bure Park. He also visited the popular Food bank. This was followed by a Eucharist at St Edburg’s where the Archbishop preached [mp3]
  • During the day the Archbishop met representatives of the farming community and also some of those involved in global and local mission.
  • He also spent time at Christ Church Cathedral with around 150 students currently training for ordination [mp3]
  • In the evening the Archbishop was the guest speaker at an After Eight service at Christ Church Cathedral on Sunday evening.  The Archbishop, who was formerly a Canon of Christ Church, was interviewed by the Sub-Dean, Canon Ed Newell, and chose to talk about Psalm 88 and the ways it can help us face issues such as depression and frustration with God.  The Archbishop, a Simon and Garfunkel fan, also reflected on their song ‘The Sound of Silence’ which echoes the final words of the Psalm. Also involved in the service was Stephen Hibbs of the hip-hop band Sound Counsel, who is a fifth year medical student at St. Peter’s College, and singer-songwriter the Reverend Andy Thayer, who is a DPhil student at Mansfield College.  A packed Cathedral heard their rap version of Psalm 88. [mp3-a] [mp3-b] [mp3-c] (In 3 parts) [click here for the transcript]

Monday 9 May

  • The Archbishop visited Buckinghamshire New University for a private visit with leaders of other faiths.
  • He took an assembly at All Saints C of E Combined School, High Wycombe, where he got some of the children to re-enact the story of the Good Samaritan.
  • This was followed by a private visit to HMP Grendon.
  • He visited Diocesan Church House in North Hinksey where he met staff who work for the diocese.
  • Dr Williams ended his visit with a visit to the Bodleian Library for a tour of the exhibition 'Manifold Greatness: Oxford and the Making of the King James Bible', before discussing the significance of the King James Bible with a group of students from the Faculties of History, English and Theology. [mp3]

The Archbishop says: “It will be a real pleasure to be back in the Diocese of Oxford for a few days. It has always been one of the most varied and creative in the Church of England; and my years as a Canon of Christ Church (and an honorary curate at St Alban’s in Cowley) helped me get to know something about this variety and liveliness. 

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