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Texting God

28 March 2014

"I KNOW how hard you are trying to reach young people like myself," 12-year-old Harry Gray wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury, "and I think it would be really helpful if there was a text number we could use to send our prayers to God. Although we find it hard to find time for prayers, we always seem to make time to text."

Harry's letter had been inspired by a sermon on praying given by the lay minister at St Peter's, in West Wittering, Chichester diocese. Harry has Asperger syndrome, and has difficulties with his handwriting;so the fact that he had written the letter showed how deeply he felt about the matter.

Archbishop Welby sent a handwritten letter in reply, praising his idea and inviting Harry and his parents, Nick and Jenny Gray, and his brother, to lunch. At Lambeth Palace, the family took part in a service of holy communion, met Mrs Welby, five visiting American bishops, and four guests from the Chemin Neufcommunity, before eating in the state dining-room.

They all enjoyed an hour of pleasant conversation, Mr Gray says, including an in-depth discussion of Harry's idea about texting. He says that Harry's Asperger syndrome can make life hard for him, but he also has many gifts, and one of them is "his ability to maintain a seemingly naïve innocence when considering the world he lives in".

Mrs Gray said that the Archbishop had proved to a young boy with big ideas that "anything is possible if you believe strongly, and have the courage to ask." Before they left Lambeth, the Archbishop took Harry aside to pray with him alone - something that Harry will never forget.

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