Archbishop Justin in conversation at the BAME lunch
The visit to Leicester by the Arch Bishop of Canterbury in November was a wonderful opportunity to elebrate what is unique about being part of the church in Leicester.
The visit began with a Cathedral service celebrating the imaginative ways in which thousands of people in parishes and communities across the Diocese are responding in loving service to the needs around them. The service featured the Sound Café choir and representatives of other mission initiatives based at the Martyrs (Money Matters, Tomatoes, Just, One Roof, Women’s Welcome Project) were also present in the congregation.
A key aim of the Archbishop’s visit was to encourage Leicester Diocese in growing vocations to ministry amongst Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) worshippers. At a special lunch attended by BAME worshippers from across the Diocese, the Archbishop and Bishop Martyn heard positive testimony from some of the worshippers about their sense of belonging in the Diocese and what they hoped to contribute. The Archbishop spoke about how in Christ we, with all our diversity, are ONE chosen people (1 Peter 2 verse 9) and how the church has been impoverished whenever the gifts of those from ethnic minorities have been undervalued or ignored. The lunch concluded with a question and answer session with Bishop-elect Guli, the new suffragan (ie assistant) Bishop in Leicester Diocese.
Olayinka, who was one of those attending from the Martyrs, spoke about what being at the lunch meant to her: “I was encouraged by hearing Archbishop Justin and Bishop Martyn speak. As an Anglican coming from Nigeria they gave me reassurance that the Church of England IS my church family here in the UK. It was also wonderful to hear Bishop-elect Guli speak about her role of encouraging BAME Christians in Leicester Diocese; her message helped me to be open once again to whatever God is calling me to here.”
Another part of The Archbishop’s visit was the “In Jesus’ Name” event at the Riders Basketball Stadium, where he was giving a talk and taking part in the worship and intercessory prayer. Here’s the thoughts of some Martyrs members who were there:
Alice: I really enjoyed listening to the Archbishop and a couple of things he said really stuck with me. I liked the fact that he is very down to earth, he is very open and makes you feel that he is one of us. One of the things I enjoyed was hearing how he manages it, when he gets all that abuse and feels very angry. His
solution was just to be with God in the middle of it; God can meet you even when you are feeling angry and bitter towards people. You don’t have to wait till you get over it.
Liz: It was good the way it brought all the different churches and denominations together. It was quite interesting when the Archbishop talked about receiving all the emails that were quite hard to read, because you don’t think that he would have to cope with all that abuse. I never thought about it before and it really encourages you to pray for him. Also I found quite useful when he said that it’s important to be real with God when you are praying. Sometimes we think we’ve always got to be in a good mood, but sometimes you just need to pour your heart out to God, to let him know how you really feel.
Malcolm: I think it was a good evening. It was great to see people from different denominations getting together. I quite enjoyed the mix of a prayer time and worship and the fact that they were playing modern songs. It also was nice to hear the Archbishop and just to find him a human being with the same emotions and feelings as the rest of us.
You can see a five minute video of events from The Archbishop’s visit on the Diocese of Leicester website and YouTube site.