In bright sunshine outside the Forum, a cheering crowd of over 500, including 100 school children, heard the Most Revd Justin Welby
speak of his childhood love of Norfolk and then lead a prayer for the region against deprivation and unemployment.
Speaking exclusively to Network Norfolk
, Archbishop Justin said that his biggest cause for hope for the church today is that “God is faithful”.
His message to church in Norfolk was: “Renew your confidence in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, both talk it and live it. Look for what you can do and not what you can’t do. Pray and trust God for the resources.”
The new Archbishop is passionate about the importance of prayer which is why he decided to undertake a five-day prayer pilgrimage leading up to his enthronement on March 21.
“Wherever I look and I see real spiritual life, it is based in prayer,” he said. “Therefore the best thing to do before my installation next week is to begin with some time in prayer and the more people that I can pray with the better.”
When asked about the biggest issue facing the church today, Archbishop Welby told Network Norfolk: “You can over-generalise and it varies from place to place. But one of our biggest issues is a loss of spiritual confidence.”
And the biggest help to him in his new role: “I think it is people and communities I have worked with that have taught me a great deal over the years,” said the Archbishop.
Speaking on the Norwich Diocesan website, Archbishop Justin said: “The key role of the Archbishop is to be a facilitator and catalyst. There is the capacity to bring people together and encourage and build up.”
The Archbishop revealed that he chose Norwich as the start of his Journey in Prayer because: “I spent a lot of my childhood in Norfolk and love this part of the world. My wife says when I get up here I become a slightly different person – more relaxed!”
The central message of the five-day pilgrimage is: “to be centred on Jesus Christ – that’s why we start with prayer,” said the Archbishop. “The church praying together and gathering to pray is something that draws other people to faith in Christ.”
From the Forum, the Archbishop walked through Norwich city centre talking to people and handing out candles and cards before heading for Norwich Cathedral where local schoolchildren and members of the public were encouraged to join him and the Bishop of Norwich
at various prayer stations throughout the day. Stations included a prayer tree, prayer paintings, prayer images, a prayer map, text prayer, icons and candle lighting, a reflective story, a labyrinth and Taize chants.
On March 21, the Most Rev Justin Welby will be is enthroned as 105th Archbishop of Canterbury and President of the worldwide Anglican Communion at Canterbury Cathedral
In the presence of a 2,000-strong congregation, including clergy from the UK, and around the world, political leaders, heads of faith communities, family and friends, the new Archbishop will swear an oath of obedience and deliver his first sermon, as Archbishop. The event will be live on BBC Two and BBC Radio 4.
Archbishop Justin turned his back on a six-figure salary as a successful executive in the oil industry to train as an Anglican priest.
After an education at Eton and Trinity College Cambridge, Archbishop Welby worked in areas of conflict in both Africa and Iraq and, with wife Caroline, also smuggled Bibles into Communist Bloc countries in a converted camper van with a false floor.
The couple have five children and lost a sixth, seven-month-old daughter, Johanna
, in a car crash in 1983, a life-changing tragedy. "It was a very dark time for my wife Caroline
and myself, but in a strange way it actually brought us closer to God," he said in a recent interview.
Following the accident, the couple rejoined the evangelical Anglican church of Holy Trinity Brompton
and the future Archbishop’s path in the ministry began. It included a curacy in Warwickshire
, becoming a canon of Coventry Cathedral,
Dean of Liverpool Cathedral
and then Bishop of Durham.
Of his ministry, Archbishop Welby has said: "I was unable to get away from a sense of God calling. I went kicking and screaming but I couldn't escape it."
Video courtesy of www.norwich.anglican.org