THE Archbishop of Canterbury has used his first sermon to
challenge the Church to become a community of "reconciled
reconcilers"; but he said it must first model reconciliation
In a sermon at Coventry Cathedral on Thursday, during a
eucharist marking the end of a three-day conference, Faith in
Conflict, Archbishop Welby said that Christians too often "seek
like-mindedness", turn away from conflict, "and instead seek those
with whom we can agree.
"The spirit of so much of our Christianity, particularly among
Protestants, was to make a new frontier. When things don't work out
with everyone, we move on to the new frontier with those who agree;
and when we fall out with them we do it again, and again, and
again, and again."
Those who belong to God belong to each other, he said, and are
"bound into a family-fellowship of being heralds of the
reconciliation we have received. We had better get used to it,
because it lasts for ever, and we have no choice.
"There are no walls in heaven. We cannot say this is my bit, and
those who disagree can have another bit. It doesn't work that
He said that churches that were not places of both conflict and
reconciliation were not merely "hindering mission and evangelism",
but were failing, or failed, churches. "It has ceased to be the
miracle of diversity of the grace of God breaking down walls.
"We are to be reconciled reconcilers. When that happens we are
unbelievably attractive, and distinctively prophetic. Not because
we agree, but because we disagree with passion, in love, and set
the bar high for the world around us. We demonstrate the grace of
reconciliation, and then, having set the bar high, we reach out and
help people over it."
Taking inspiration from the latest Bruce Willis movie, he said:
"Too often, when things get difficult, we circle the wagons and
self-define ourselves as those with one mind against the rest of
the world. It has a noble feeling, circling the wagon, being the
small minority that's persecuted. It gives us the feeling that it
is a good day to die hard: hard of heart and hard in action."
He said that the Church had been infiltrated by society's
context of fear: "We do not trust the scientists on earth science,
or the politicians, or the journalists, or the bankers, or the
bishops. The absence of trust renders all decision-making a matter
of law; and all laws an attempt to cover every possible
contingency: a complete impossibility in a world of change and
Archbishop Welby described a vision of what a Church of
reconciled reconcilers could achieve, saying that the possibilities
were "more than we can imagine".
"Reconciliation will touch every aspect of our life and society.
. . We can be, as God's people - as Anglicans, even - reconcilers
of the environment and natural order, of families and communities,
of economies and financial services, and of nations." He challenged
the Church to "establish a pattern and model of trust-filled
living, a model that changes the world."
The full sermon can be read here.