THE Church "should live so that, if God does not exist, it makes
no sense at all", the Archbishop of Canterbury said at the start of
his "Journey in Prayer", on Thursday of last week. He was quoting
the American theologian Stanley Hauerwas, who has had "a big
impact" on his thinking.
"The thing that would most make no sense at all if God does not
exist is prayer," Archbishop Welby said. "Prayer is in every
possible sense the most productive way, and the most wonderful way,
to start this new period."
The five-day prayer pilgrimage, leading up to his enthronement
in Canterbury yesterday, covered six dioceses across the Province
of Canterbury: Norwich, Coventry, London, Southwark, Truro, and
Chichester. The complex logistics were co-ordinated from Lambeth
Palace by the Archbishop's Deputy Secretary for Public Affairs, the
Revd Helen Dawes.
Archbishop Welby started the pilgrimage in Norwich, accompanied
by his wife, Caroline. "I spent a lot of my childhood in Norfolk
and love this part of the world," he said. "My wife says when I get
up here I become a slightly different person - more relaxed."
The thousand-strong crowd that gathered outside the Forum in
Norwich city centre to greet Archbishop Welby exceeded expec-
tations. Diocesan staff had predicted a turnout of about 200; the
Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, said: "I wondered if
anybody was going to come, whether Justin and I would be here on
Scores of people sought to shake Archbishop Welby's hand and
take photos. One man who introduced himself had been a childhood
friend of Archbishop Welby's: the two had played together when
their families were neighbours in Onslow Square in the early
After greeting members of the swelling crowd, Archbishop Welby
prayed for them. He then proceeded on foot to the cathedral,
trailed by a sizeable crowd, handing out prayer cards and candles
to passing members of the public.
Inside Norwich Cathedral, members of 24-7 Prayer, an
interdominational prayer movement, had erected prayer stations
around the cathedral. These would be placed in each cathedral
during the pilgrimage.
The national director of 24-7 Prayer, Brian Heasley, explained
that the organisation had been asked by Archbishop Welby to find
"creative" ways for people to pray during the pilgrimage.
Half a dozen "prayer trees" were located at one end of the
cathedral, on which were hung written prayers. In another part of
the cathedral, a map of the world was spread out on a table, on
which intercessors could place thumb prints on particular
countries. Near by, a large screen displayed requests for prayer
which had been texted by members of the public. They included
prayers for Archbishop Welby and the Church of England, as well as
more personal concerns such as sick relatives and forthcoming job
At a "prayer labyrinth" on the cathedral floor, individuals
knelt and sat quietly, on an "inner journey of prayer". Mr Heasley
said: "If you're quite a kinesthetic person, and you need to feel
your way through something, you can walk around and connect with
prayer in that."
Towards the cathedral's west doors, children from local schools
explored a specially created prayer-space; it included maps, trees,
and chocolate coins. More traditional forms of prayer, such as
lectio divina, were also on offer in other parts of the
"We tried as best we could to create a broad spectrum that would
help as many people engage with prayer as we could," Mr Heasley
said. Many of those who had come to the cathedral to pray had not
been Christians, he said. "People have really engaged."
At the end of the day, Bishop James reflected that Pope Francis,
who had been elected the previous evening, had "invited other
people to pray for his ministry before he blessed them. Archbishop
Justin has done the same thing. . . One of the reasons there's been
so many people here today is that the Archbishop has come to us.
It's a reminder that God is approachable."
Day two of the pilgrimage was spent in Coventry. It was here
that Archbishop Welby was ordained, and he served here for 15
years, first as a parish priest, and then at the cathedral.
"I've come back to reflect on the nature of reconciliation and
the hope for the world that Christ brings," he said. Coventry was
somewhere that he prayed for every day.
Rain did not deter a large crowd from gathering in the city
centre to greet Archbishop Welby, who was welcomed formally by the
Lord Mayor and by religious leaders.
Accompanied by the crowd and some Asian Christian drummers, he
made the short walk to the ruins of the old cathedral, which was
devas- tated by bombs dropped by the Luftwaffe on the night of 14
Amid the ruins, the Bishop of Coventry, the Rt Revd Christopher
Cocksworth, led a litany of reconciliation. After each line, the
crowd responded: "Father, forgive."
The crowd then moved into the present cathedral, where
Archbishop Welby led the litany of reconciliation again. He
encouraged those passing through the cathedral to spend time in
prayer. "You may not be someone who goes to church or thinks of
yourself as religious. God is here. Just take the opportunity to
let him meet with you and see what he says to you."
The plight of persecuted Christians, particularly in Africa, was
a prominent theme during the day. Archbishop Welby said prayers
"for those who have found no safety in the last few days, who have
been attacked", and "for those for whom hatred so fills their heart
that they felt a compulsion to attack others because of their
At the end, he blessed Bishop Cocksworth and a colleague who
were flying to Nigeria that evening. "One of the worst feelings
that people have often, particularly in Africa and the Middle East,
is that they feel abandoned," he said. The presence of an English
delegation would communicate to Anglicans in Nigeria "that we are
all one body because we all share in one bread".
Speaking inside the cathedral, Bishop Cocksworth said: "This
place stands as a great symbol of reconciliation in Church, nation,
and world. It had a formative influence on the Archbishop when he
was here, and he's taken it forward into his future ministry."
On Saturday, Archbishop Welby visited two dioceses: London and
Southwark. He started by leading prayers outside the birthplace of
Thomas Becket, on Cheapside, and then walked to St Paul's
Cathedral, where he prayed by the statue of John Wesley outside the
North Transept door.
After a couple of hours of prayer, he left St Paul's and crossed
the Millennium Bridge on foot into Southwark diocese. He then
walked along the South Bank, accompanied by a dancing choir, until
he reached Borough Market, one of the oldest and largest food
markets, in London.
Archbishop Welby rang the market bell to call people to prayer.
He thanked God "for the buzz and life and fire of this place", and
prayed that the market would be "a place where the good things you
give us of food and drink are celebrated and enjoyed".
Speaking inside Southwark Cathedral, where people filed in and
out to pray at the different stations, the Bishop of Southwark, the
Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, said: "The good thing about today has
been the invitation from Archbishop Justin to join him in prayer,
and to make that prayer not a private matter, but something which
engages us as communities, and engages us out and about in the
reality of the context in which we live."
On Sunday evening, Archbishop Welby boarded a sleeper train to
Truro, arriving on Monday morning in bright sunshine. He was
greeted at Lemon Quay by children from the Archbishop Benson C of E
Primary School, and officially welcomed to Cornwall by the
Lord-Lieutenant, Colonel Edward Bolitho.
Archbishop Welby said that he was "quite overwhelmed" by the
"big crowd" that had turned out. "It's a huge privilege to be
here." He announced that he would return to Cornwall in November
for a three-day visit.
Speaking in Truro Cathedral at the end of the day, Archbishop
Welby said: "Whatever we do, let's make sure that it points to
On Tuesday, Archbishop Welby did not attend the inauguration of
Pope Francis in the Vatican; instead, he visited Chichester, the
final stop on the prayer pilgrimage. He told the BBC that the
decision had not been difficult: "This is a central part of my own
introduction and inauguration of what I will be doing," he
An estimated 3000 people lined the streets of Chichester city
centre to greet Archbishop Welby as he walked towards Chichester
Cath-edral, accompanied by the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin
In the BBC interview, the Archbishop said that he was praying
for those "really let down" as a result of child-protection
failures by the Church. "I pray for them to be able to forgive, if
they can. I don't insist or demand that they do; in fact, quite the
reverse. I pray for their well-being in the face of what they've
The Archdeacon of Horsham, the Ven. Roger Combes, said that the
number of people who had turned out was a "sign of hope. It sends a
very strong message that the Church has a real place in our hearts