Sunday, 19 May 2013

Justin Wellby, hope, the Bible and the Church

Archbishop Justin Wellby speaking to Christian leaders in the Albert Hall pointed out that he was more hopeful than ever before for the future of the Church as it “fills in” the gaps left by the State in times of austerity. Referring to the food banks being run by the Diocese of Durham he said: “It is a great opportunity to demonstrate the love of Christ. I am more optimistic about the Church now than I have ever been in my life.”

For the first time in 70 years, he told Christian leaders from across the world, people are realizing that “Christ meets the needs of the world”. “The opportunities are endless”, he added.

During the interview with Nicky Gumbel, a vicar at the Holy Trinity Brompton which organises the conference, the former oil executive discussed his rise through the religious ranks. During a gap year in Kenya working on a voluntary project he lived with a religious man who used to read the Bible every morning.

“I read the only other book in the house,” he said. “Which was Bagehot on the English Constitution which I thought would be less boring than the Bible and so I read it three times and then I gave up and read the Bible.”

But his true conversion came during his second year at Trinity College, Cambridge, after a friend took him to a Christian Union meeting, he said. “It was staggeringly boring, but it just shows God is bigger than us because I remember being very bored,” he said.

During his time as an oil executive the Archbishop lost his seven-month-old daughter Johanna in a car crash and says that the experience brought him closer to God. He looked as if he was fighting back emotion as he added: “It was unbelievable painful. It is still a pretty rare day when I don’t think about Johanna and I think that is true for most parents who have been through this.”

After rising through the ranks of the Church he was ordained as Archbishop earlier this year. But he believes he has taken the helm of a Church which is in a better position than ever before as people come to terms with austerity measures.

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