THE Archbishop of Canterbury spent four days “back home” in the Midlands last week, celebrating the diocese of Coventry’s centenary.
Archbishop Welby was ordained deacon in Coventry Cathedral in 1992, before spending ten years in parishes in Nuneaton, Southam, and in Ufton, Royal Leamington Spa. He then became a Residentiary Canon of Coventry Cathedral, and later Sub-Dean, and was Director of the International Centre for Reconciliation.
The Primate had “returned home”, the diocese said in a statement.
Before he joined in the Centenary Festival at Coventry Cathedral on Saturday, Archbishop Welby spent three days travelling around the diocese, visiting schools, hospitals, and churches, and meeting asylum-seekers, faith leaders, college students, farmers, and others.
PAStormzy performs at the 2018 BRIT Awards, at the O2 Arena, London, on 21 February
At a civic reception with the Mayor of Coventry, Cllr Tony Skipper, Archbishop Welby told the audience that their city, and its reconciliation ministry built out of the ashes of the cathedral, destroyed in the Coventry Blitz in 1940, was famous around the world.
“It’s a very rare day when I’m on duty that I’m not wearing a Cross of Nails. It’s so often commented on, and people say, ‘That’s such a beautiful cross, what’s its story? So I tell the Coventry story. All cities say they are famous throughout the world; but, in my travels, I’ve discovered that Coventry really is famous.”
The Cross of Nails, he said, was on the wall of Holy Trinity Cathedral, Bujumbura, in Burundi, a country racked with violence, instability, and suffering.
Archbishop Welby joined a group of performing artists and representatives from the city’s cultural scene at an evening event, “Building Bridges”, to discuss how arts and culture could contribute to peace and reconciliation.
Archbishop Welby revealed, in an interview with the local BBC radio station, that a song by the south London grime artist Stormzy was helping him to prepare for the royal wedding later this month.
Having said that he was nervous about officiating at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, he was asked what he was doing to remain calm. In response, the Archbishop quoted a lyric from the Stormzy song “Blinded by your grace”: “I stay prayed up and get the job done.”
At the end of his visit, Archbishop Welby took part in a service at the cathedral to mark 50 years since the foundation of Tearfund. During the service, the congregation heard the reflections of Tearfund’s Rwandan director on working for peace after genocide in his country. The Gosp-Ability Choir, a gospel choir made up of people with mental-health problems or a physical disability, sang at the service. The group will also be performing in Windsor in the build-up to the royal wedding.
The Archbishop led the congregation in a prayer he had written for the anniversary: “Gracious and generous God, you became poor so that we might be enriched by your love, and you gave the world’s wealth and resources as a common inheritance of all human beings. We pray you would strengthen your Church to be a beacon of hospitality for the poor.
“We pray that, seeing the light of Christ’s love, the nations and peoples of the world may fight not to kill, but to outdo one another in care for the poor, and in actions of gracious generosity.”