Advanced search Click here for the website of the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby

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

Skip Content

Anniversary Ceremony for Momoyama Gakuin University and Momoyama Gakuin, Japan

Saturday 26th September 2009

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams delivered a message at an Anniversary Ceremony for the 50th Anniversary of Momoyama Gakuin (St Andrews) University and the 125th Anniversary for Momoyama Gakuin.

The Archbishop with students from Momoyama Gaukin

 The Archbishop with students from Momoyama Gakuin

The full text of the speech is below:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

In the New Testament, we meet St Andrew just on one or two occasions. And when we meet St Andrew we see him in a very distinctive role. St Andrew appears to us as someone who introduces people to Christ. First of all, he introduces his own brother Peter. Later on in the gospel when people from abroad come wanting to see Jesus, Andrew again introduces them.

Andrew has seen something powerful and wonderful in Jesus Christ, and he wants others to see it as well. So strong is his conviction that he has seen something wonderful, that others look at him and they trust him and want to walk with him. We could say that Andrew has turned his face towards the light and now the light is reflected in his eyes.

What is it that Andrew has seen? He has seen the perfect human being. He has seen human nature transformed in its relation with God. And so what he wants others to see is that full humanity, that radiance of God's presence in a human face. He has seen in Jesus someone who is filled with all the fullness of God in the words of our lesson this morning and he wants other lives to be filled with that fullness.

Those who founded this university, those who founded the institution 150 years ago were people who had seen the fullness of God in human faces. They had seen the fullness of God in Jesus; they had seen the full humanity of those who followed Jesus - and they wanted others to be filled. But for them as for all true missionaries this was not just a religious concern; it was a concern about the whole of human life and experience.

The beginnings of the Church Missionary Society to which this institution owes so much, are a very interesting study in themselves. Those who founded the Society were close to those who fought against the slave trade in the British Empire and also those who were working for better conditions for working people in England. They were concerned, troubled and angry that working people in England and slaves in the British Empire could not truly experience their own full humanity. And so their missionary activity was always connected with the concern to set people free for their full humanity.

I know that that is true of the CMS today as well. But it is a reminder that this university stands for the vision of full humanity. Of course, it stands for Academic Excellence; for International Cooperation; for the equipping of people to play a part in society, but because it is a Christian Foundation there is always something more. What is done here is done. In St Paul's words, "Rooted and grounded in love". It is rooted and grounded in the conviction that human beings are capable of liberty and joy beyond anything they can imagine. And so, in this university, students will learn something of the mystery of their own nature. Whether they recognise the Christian origins of this belief or not, they will still be absorbing, still be taking into themselves something of that vision; a vision of the scale and the depth of human nature.

And so, as with St Andrew, something of the light of truth will shine in their faces and draw other people to them. And so what we pray for the future of this university is that it will continue to raise up men and women, who in their life and their work, show that depth and fullness of human nature. And wherever in this society or wherever in the world they find themselves, they will be witnesses to something deeper than most people understand. And where there is slavery or injustice; where people are imprisoned by the pressures of work and the anxieties of society, these people – those who come from this university – will show that life can be different, can be deeper, can be more joyful. Every university wishes its students to be successful but it is right that a Christian university should wish its students to know joy and peace as well. So may all involved in the life of this university experience the fullness of humanity and may they be prepared more and more to receive the fullness of God.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

© Rowan Williams 2009

Back · Back to top