Archbishop's visit to Diocese of Coventry
Sunday 27th May 2012The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, visited Coventry and Warwickshire in the Diocese of Coventry from Friday 25 to Sunday 27 May 2012.
In an interview at the end of the 3 days, the Archbishop was asked what he had especially enjoyed:
I think it’s probably been the meetings with children: the Coffee Tots event in Coventry on Friday and also the event at St Nicolas School in Nuneaton. I always enjoy meeting children and I have a sense that it’s often where the Church is at its best. These events have been great blessings for me.
And when asked what he found particularly distinctive about the Diocese of Coventry, the Archbishop said:
I was surprised how seriously and widely people talked about the Peace and Reconciliation agenda. What’s happened here, with the rebuilding of the Cathedral and the vision of the Cross of Nails Community and all that goes with that, is in the bloodstream of the city. This is something distinctive about Coventry, and long may it remain so.
Archbishop Rowan was hosted by the Bishop of Coventry, the Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, and the Bishop of Warwick, the Rt Revd John Stroyan. Bishop Christopher said before the visit that he hoped the varied programme would give the Archbishop a good understanding of the joys and challenges that people face in this part of the Midlands. A brief summary of the weekend's events follows, and further information is available at the Coventry Diocese website.
Friday 25th May
Coventry Cathedral's 50th anniversary:
The visit commenced with Coventry Cathedral's Golden Jubilee, marking 50 years since the consecration of the "new" Coventry Cathedral, a symbol of peace and reconciliation after the bombing of the "old" cathedral in the World War II. HRH Princess Anne attended the service and the Archbishop preached, saying that a sacred building should be one which helps us to see afresh. The sermon is available here as text and audio.
Coffee Tots, Coventry:
This café and parenting project has been running in Coventry's City Arcade for 18 months and provides support and a "home from home" for parents with young children, as well as drinks and snacks. The Archbishop read Julia Donaldson's "The Gruffalo" to the children, chatted with staff and parents, and was given a go with the coffee machine. Read more and see a short video here.
Reconciliation Ministry reception:
The Community of the Cross of Nails is a holy community partnered with Coventry Cathedral which works for peace and reconciliation. Archbishop Rowan met with members of the Community and learned about the special projects being undertaken for their jubilee year.
Discussion with local leaders:
At the last event of the day, the Archbishop participated in a discussion with local community leaders about the shaping of society in Coventry and Warwickshire.
Saturday 26th May
Clergy study morning:
After morning prayer and eucharist with Bishop Christopher, Archbishop Rowan participated in a Study Morning with local clergy at the University of Warwick, speaking on the theme of 'Staying spiritually healthy - maintinaing a healthy spiritual life under pressure". The Archbishop's address is available here as text and audio.
Young leaders lunch:
At the St Michael's Community Centre, Arley, the Archbishop had lunch with young church leaders from across the diocese, and learned about the work that they do 'on the ground'. Assuring them of the commitment of the National Church in supporting that work, he said "You help show people that they don't have to live in the boxes they think they do. My job is to make sure you have the resources to carry on doing that job."
Meeting with community representatives:
Dr Williams then met with around 30 local community representatives from Arley and the wider Nuneaton area to learn more about the challenges found in this area. The Archbishop heard about the need for more resources for young people, transport difficulties, drug abuse, and a lack of aspiration and self-belief. Many, however, identified the St Michael's Centre as being vital to the community in helping bring people together, and Archbishop Rowan noted the enormous affection for Arley that he had heard in the room.
Headteachers discussion forum:
The Archbishop engaged in a discussion forum with headteachers from church schools in the Nuneaton area. Evening worship was then held with children and parents from the 12 Church of England schools in the Deanery.
Coventry meets Canterbury:
At a multi-cultural event in Coventry, the Archbishop was welcomed by the new communities of the city through an evening of song, dance and drumming. Sabir Zazai, one of the participants, said "We celebrate that Coventry is a place that provides a sanctuary and hope for those fleeing persecution. Our faiths tell us to love one another, to care for one another and to live within our means. Tonight’s event is just one example of how migrant communities have worked together.”
Sunday 27th May
Eucharist at St Gregory's, Tredington:
Archbishop Rowan preached at a Pentecost eucharist at St Gregory's, Tredington. His sermon is available here as text and audio.
Spirit of the Countryside, Stoneleigh Park:
A short act of worship was held at this open-air celebration of rural life, followed by a picnic lunch with music and entertainment. The Archbishop's sermon is available here as text and audio.