Birmingham Diocese visit
Monday 17th November 2008The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams visited Birmingham and the Black Country on 15th and 16th November where he opened a Children's Centre, visited a Hindu Temple, met the city's Faith Leaders Group and preached at Birmingham Cathedral.
On Saturday 15th November Dr Williams officially opened The Springfield Centre at St Christopher's Church, Springfield, and met 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 joined members of the congregation and others from the local community in the church, where he will took part in a Service of Thanksgiving and gave a homily. After a ribbon-cutting ceremony the Archbishop joined with children to create a plaque made of hand prints to celebrate the opening of the centre. He also met 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 also met Dr Andrew Smith, leader of the Youth Encounter Centre which trains Christian youth workers based in multi faith settings.
Speaking at the Church Service the Archbishop said: "Springfield is the name of the town in one of my favourite TV shows, the Simpsons. On the programme there is a song about putting the spring into Springfield. This place is putting the spring into Springfield. It is not just creating a buzz but is also a source of new life."
The Archbishop then visited the Venkataswara (Balaji) Temple, in the Diocese of Lichfield, where he unveiled a plaque to commemorate his visit and the friendship between Christian and Hindu communities in the United Kingdom. His Excellency Mr. Shiv Kumar Mukherjee, High Commissioner of India was amongst the distinguished guests, who also included representatives from major Faiths in the United Kingdom. The Archbishop was welcomed in the traditional was shown around the interior of the temple where he met with members of the temple community. Dr Williams did not engage 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."
The Bishop of Birmingham presided at the Eucharist in Birmingham Cathedral on Sunday morning at which the Archbishop preached. The Gospel reading for the day was the parable of the talents in Matthew Chapter 25 vs 14-30. The Archbishop said that it was not a parable about economics but the talents represented God's offer of relationship.
He said: "God does not give us stuff. We don't have a series of packages descending from heaven saying 'love from God'. We have something much better - the love of God." He went on to say while we can be inclined to lock that relationship in a cupboard we become alive by following the example of our master in reckless self-giving.
The Archbishop concluded by saying that Matthew 25 could be summarised as saying, keep your eyes open, don't be afraid and what you'll find you are doing is serving Jesus, particularly among the marginalised and needy in the world.
The Bishop of Birmingham, Rt Revd David Urquhart, said "I was 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".
Dr Williams met with the Birmingham Faith Leaders Group at the City Hall.