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The Archbishop of Canterbury leaves mark on young “disciples” during Diocese of Chelmsford visit

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justine Welby, at St Garbriel's Church for its Centenary Dedication Festiva.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justine Welby, at St Garbriel's Church for its Centenary Dedication Festiva.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014
8:00 PM

The Archbishop of Canterbury is speaking to 100 young Christians all of whom are paying absolute attention to his after lunch address, calling for them to hear God’s call.

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“I think we are at a pivotal moment when God is doing such extraordinary things in the Church,” says Archbishop Justin Welby, looking around at his captivated audience.

“The way is open for this country to find again its faith in Jesus Christ.”

It is hard not to admire the scene as guests and members of All Saints’ Woodford Wells Church sit listening to the Archbishop’s address in the multi-million pound development at Woodford Wells in Woodford Green. It is the largest church in the Diocese of Chelmsford.

The Archbishop, speaking without notes, keeps his audience amused with tales of how he heard God’s call when attending a service in central London.

Afterwards in 1989 he started training for ordination.

The laughter does not detract from Archbishop Welby’s message, though.

“All that is needed is for enough Christian disciples to say ‘we are going to do this and we are going this wholeheartedly and when we do that the whole country is going to be changed’,” he says. In the centenary year of the beginning of the First World War, the Archbishop references the conflict at Gallipoli, calling it “a missed opportunity” for generals to strike.

History books recall how the Ottoman defenders only numbered between 10 and 20 in certain parts, yet Allied forces failed to press home their advantage on the first day of conflict.

He hopes the “disciples” sitting in front him, drawn from across the diocese, do not miss their own opportunity.

“People want to find Jesus Christ,” he adds.

“Churches are growing. There are plenty of places where it is not growing – but there are plenty of places where it is. The idea that the Church is about to die as is often portrayed in the media or that churches are led by those who are incompetent or corrupt.

“It is not like that. The Church is on the way up.”

The talk marks the end of his three-day visit to the Diocese of Chelmsford which celebrated its centenary last weekend.

But the Archbishop wishes to leave a strong impression. “We have had an extraordinary opportunity in the last five years, because of the collapse of the economy, because of all the problems around the country, he says. “A gap has opened up.”

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