The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Gloucester Prayer Mission

27/05/2024

The Archbishop of Canterbury spent three days in the Diocese of Gloucester on a prayer and evangelism mission (24 – 26 May). Hosted by the Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek and her team, it was an opportunity to worship alongside Christians across the Diocese and witness first-hand the ways the church is reaching out to a diverse range of local communities. 

Archbishop Justin and Bishop Rachel

Starting the weekend at a farm in the North Cotswolds, Archbishop Justin had breakfast with members of the farming community, listening to the issues affecting their work, including climate change and the growing necessity to diversify what they grow and produce in order to make a living. They also discussed the troubling issue of alienation within rural communities, and the role that the church plays in forging better community cohesion.  

Archbishop Justin having breakfast with members of the farming community at a farm in the North Cotswolds

After breakfast, the Archbishop spent time at different primary schools in the area, joining children in prayer and worship and exploring the story of the Good Samaritan during an R.E. lesson. He visited the team and customers at the Amberley Community Shop and Café, a vibrant and bustling community space that was opened within Holy Trinity Church to replace the village shop after it closed. Having received barista training at the café, which included latte art lessons, Archbishop Justin was able to serve customers with his own coffees.  

Archbishop Justin helping out at Amberley Community Shop and Café

In Cirencester, he visited The Grace Network, as the charity refurbishes the site of an old department store to make way for social enterprises catering for the community. In Stroud, the Network hosted a party for all its volunteers and members at Briscombe Mill, which houses furniture banks; children’s toys; clothing swap shops; a bicycle repair shop; and the Long Table, an affordable place to eat and gather for everyone in the community. He was interviewed by Bishop Rachel on the importance of transformation through Jesus – both within individuals and the wider community. 

Visit to the Grace Network - Gloucester Mission

The following day began at St Paul and St Stephen in Gloucester, where 60 children and their families took part in a messy church service, singing and joining in arts and crafts activities centred around the Good News of Jesus Christ. The Archbishop then went on a prayer walk through the streets of Gloucester, praying with members of the homeless community, as well as those from the Gloucester Skatepark Project.  

Archbishop Justin at Messy Church - Gloucester Mission

To hear more about the work being done in prisons and refuges in the Diocese, the Archbishop visited the team at the Clean Plate, a not-for-profit cafe that provides opportunities to those recovering from addiction. Run by the Nelson Trust, the charity brings belief, hope and long-term recovery to those affected by substance use. Members of the team who had recently left prison shared their stories with the Archbishop, who prayed with them for their sustained recovery and rehabilitation. 

Saturday afternoon was spent at a sports day run by Sportily UK, an ecumenical Christian charity that uses sport to encourage children to explore life’s big questions. The Archbishop joined in a game of rounders and talked to young people about the way sport can help improve mental health. 

Archbishop Justin at sports day run by Sportily UK

In Innsworth, Archbishop Justin visited the first of seven homes being built by the Church Housing Association. He prayed for the work being done there, applauding the Diocese for its life-changing support in providing sustainable, safe and stable housing for those in need. The day finished at St Peter’s Church in Cheltenham, where the Archbishop joined two local youth networks, the Rock and Fabric Worship, in their regular worship evening.  

On Trinity Sunday, the Archbishop travelled to the Forest of Dean, where he joined people from across the Parish of Tidenham for a morning service. Here, the congregation heard testimonies from a young Ukrainian family and the mother of triplets whose husband died – who all found support through the fellowship of Christian community there and the love of Jesus. 

Gloucester Mission Weekend

The mission ended with a thanksgiving Eucharist service at Gloucester Cathedral, where the Archbishop gave a sermon on Jesus’ promise in John’s gospel that we may have life and have it abundantly. He gave thanks for the projects seen this weekend and prayed for the future of mission and evangelism across the region. 

Archbishop Justin preaching - Gloucester Mission Weekend
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