Big Society is 2000 years old says Archbishop
By Keith Morris
2010: Christians have been developing the Big Society for the past 2000 years, the Archbishop of York, the Most Rev Dr John Sentamu
(right), told an audience of clergy during a visit to Norwich
on December 2.
“If you took all the Christian activity out of the centre of Norwich there would be a big hole,” he told over 70 Church of England ministers and guests at a private reception, during which he was interviewed by the Bishop of Norwich, Rt Rev Graham James and took questions from the audience.
“The problem in this country is that we so reticent to talk about the good news stories. We don’t want to look as if we are competing with our neighbour and we don’t want to wear our faith on our sleeves. Therefore people don’t recognize that in this country there are some 23.7 million hours of voluntary work done by Christians every year.”
“We need to be slightly more willing to share the good news of Jesus and not be afraid to talk about it and our trust in God,” said Dr Sentamu. “Christians are merely beggars telling other beggars where to find the bread.
“Some of us are very good at preaching but not at giving our testimonies and talking about when we were blind but now we see. We don’t talk about our struggles so that the person who is struggling can actually enter into it. We need to give people permission to talk about Jesus.”
Earlier in the day, the Archbishop said he had visited the Norwich-based Christian charity Pregnancy Choices Norfolk: “There was a young lady who took a very bold decision to tell her story on a DVD, about how she went through a lot of trauma with a pregnancy. She told me how that group has helped her to put her life back together. Every day there is prayer going on in that place.”
Dr Sentamu went on to urge his audience to talk more about Jesus: “I come from a country, Uganda
, where we do not have weather, we have a climate. In this country we have a lot of weather and we talk a lot about. But there is somebody greater than the weather, his name is Jesus, and we are not very eager to talk about Him.
“Suppose we say to ourselves that I am not going to let this day pass without giving somebody permission to talk about the things that matter, then you may change something. Opportunities are in front of us but we don’t take them.
Rev Nicholas Vesey asked the Archbishop where he saw the green shoots of growing in the Church of England.
“I am seeing what I call the inherited church improve the way we do our liturgies, worship and ministries better and can be breath-taking.
“I have also seen Fresh Expressions growing up all over the place. What we haven’t worked out is what we do when they start growing big, what will happen then. The tendency in the Church of England is to try and control everything.
“What I have also seen around the country is that at Christmas and Easter the services at cathedrals are so big that you can’t get all the people in there. Over the last four years at York Minster, at every carol service there are over 1000 people who cannot get in.
“Growth is always given by the Holy Spirit. I sense the Almighty is stirring up the people because the church, which is getting a bad press, its ministers and people are actually being very faithful. They are faithful in little things, praying, hoping, looking, working hard. God always blesses when people are being faithful. I am president of Youth for Christ and the things I am seeing happening to those young people is just incredible and at the YMCA what I am seeing there is just breath-taking.
“Believe the things of God and not the things you are seeing in the media.”
The Archbishop also answered questions about Eschatology and how the Christmas story should be presented and about the upcoming elections in Zimbabwe.
To hear the full interview, click below.
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