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Archbishop joins Chelmsford Diocese for centenary celebrations

Monday 19th May 2014

Over a packed three days Archbishop Justin joined events and services to mark centenary celebrations, visited social action projects, prayed with young people, served coffee at a ‘boot sale church’ – and even beat the Bishop of Chelmsford in a jousting match.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby visited churches, communities and social projects in Chelmsford Diocese this weekend as part of its centenary celebrations.

Joined by the Bishop of Chelmsford Stephen Cottrell, the Archbishop kicked off his visit on Friday morning in Stratford and Canning Town in East London, where he visited regeneration projects related to the 2012 Olympics, and was shown around the Westfield Shopping Centre by its chaplain, the Revd Christy Asinugo. 

At Chobham Academy in the former athletes’ village, the Archbishop spoke with students about their studies before signing the school’s inspiration wall.

Archbishop Justin then visited Alpha Building Services Engineering in Newham, the forerunner to a new University Technical College that will open in September 2015. The Archbishop tweeted after the visit that the UTC, which combined "clear values, effective training, community engagement" and "set a pattern for the church".

Archbishop Justin then visited St Luke’s Church of England primary school in Canning Town, where he prayed with pupils before having lunch with them. (Watch a video about the Newham part of the visit here)

As part of its celebrations, Chelmsford Diocese is encouraging people to spend this centenary year upholding a simple ‘rule of life’ and discerning how to continue to live in a distinctive Christian way in the world.

Picking up on this theme, on Saturday Archbishop Justin blessed and presented 'Chelmsford Holding Crosses' to a congregation at Chelmsford Cathedral.

"The cross represents the moment of deepest encounter and most radical change for the Christian. It is impossible to imagine a church that flourishes without clinging to the cross at its very heart," the Archbishop said. 

"As the Diocese of Chelmsford celebrates its centenary, it has chosen the holding cross as its sign and symbol. I pray that its parishes and people cling to the cross, witnessing to its power and proclaiming its glory for the coming 100 years."

The Archbishop then travelled to Southend-on-Sea, where he dedicated a training room at a homeless centre run by local charity HARP. As well as the training room to help people get back on their feet, the centre offers 24-hour access to emergency accommodation and a day centre.

Speaking at the centre, where he spoke with staff and guests, the Archbishop said: “This is the kind of thing that needs to happen. It’s local people supporting it.

"It’s a local effort with a vision of ending homelessness - rough sleeping particularly - in Southend in four years and that’s a fantastic vision of huge importance.”

On Saturday evening Archbishop Justin joined young Christians at a youth event in Fordham, where he found himself pitted against the Bishop of Chelmsford in a jousting match. (Archbishop Justin won the contest, prompting Bishop Stephen to tweet afterwards that he had been "robbed".) 

Later the Archbishop spoke with the young people about prayer and answered their questions on the subject. "It's important," he said, "it really makes a difference."

Yesterday morning the Archbishop was up early to serve coffee at the ‘boot sale church’ at one of Essex’s largest bootsales in Boreham.

People bring spiritual issues and concerns and prayer requests to the stall, which is staffed by ministry teams from four Anglican congregations, and take away Bibles and other Christian publications. Meanwhile 250 cups of coffee are sold each Sunday, with half the proceeds going to charity. The Archbishop prayed with the team and asked God to bless their work. 

After planting a tree in the grounds of Chelmsford Cathedral to commemorate his visit, the Archbishop led a special centenary Eucharist at St Gabriel’s church in Aldersbrook, where he preached and encouraged the congregation to identify how they could live distinctively Christian lives.

Archbishop Justin spent the final hours of his visit with young people at All Saints’ Church in Woodford Wells.

The Archbishop had lunch with more than 100 young people aged 18 to their early 30s from across the Diocese of Chelmsford, before giving an address on the theme of ‘living for Jesus today’.

In his talk the Archbishop encouraged the young people to consider God’s call in their lives, whether in an ordained or lay role in the church.

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