The Archbishop of Canterbury has been in New York, at the same time as delegates arrived for the United Nations General Assembly.
The focus of his visit to New York City was reconciliation, one of his three personal priorities as Archbishop.
Just around the corner from the United Nations headquarters is the Episcopalian Church Center, the national headquarters for the Episcopal Church. In its chapel he took questions from young men and women who are involved in peace making. As he talked to them, he drew on the powerful speech delivered to the General Assembly by the U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres on Thursday (21st September, 2023).
“Our world is becoming unhinged,” António Guterres said. “Geopolitical tensions are rising. Global challenges are mounting. And we seem incapable of coming together to respond. We confront a host of existential threats – from the climate crisis to disruptive technologies – and we do so at a time of chaotic transition.”
A visit to Trinity Church Wall Street followed, right in the heart of Manhattan’s financial district and close to the site of 9/11. The Archbishop did another Q&A session but this time with teenagers affiliated to the Church. They practiced their journalism and camera skills on him by asking questions on a wide range of subjects, from his idea of heaven to dealing with imposter syndrome.
Whilst in New York Archbishop Welby continued his work on South Sudan, chairing a meeting about making progress with peace in the African state. He was there in February with the Pope and The Moderator of Scotland.
Archbishop Justin’s reconciliation work and ecumenicalism was recognised by a Franciscan order in rural New York State called the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement. On Saturday (23rd September) they presented him with the Paul Wattson Christian Unity Award. This award was also given to one of Archbishop Justin’s predecessors, Archbishop Michael Ramsey, in 1972. The work Caroline Welby does for her ministry called Women on the Frontline was also recognised.
The brief visit to New York was rounded off by Archbishop Justin preaching at a special inauguration Eucharist for a new religious community to be based in at the Cathedral of St John the Divine in the neighbourhood of Harlem.
The new community is called the Community at the Crossing. It builds upon the model of intentional contemplative communities worldwide, particularly the Community of St Anselm based at Lambeth Palace in London and the Chemin Neuf Community. Thirteen young men and women committed themselves to a life of prayer, study and work in the community for one year.
The Archbishop of Canterbury preached about the importance of religious communities and reflected on the challenges of being part of such a close unit.