Archbishop Justin Welby has prayed for Christian unity and told church leaders that “we need to be a risk-taking church.” The archbishop spoke Monday morning before an audience of more than 5,000 Christians on the first day of Holy Trinity Brompton’s annual leadership conference at the Royal Albert Hall.
“We need to be a risk-taking Church. There is no safety in Christ — there is absolute security, but there is no safety,” he said during a question and answer session with the Rev. Nicky Gumbel, vicar of HTB.
Archbishop Welby said he was “more optimistic about the Church now than I have ever been in my life.” But he warned the audience, composed of leaders from Anglican, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian and Pentecostal churches, against the dangers of fighting each other.
“We cannot live for our cause to win, we have to live for his cause to win,” he said, adding that “very often the biggest wounds we experience will come from other Christians.”
‘Forgive your fractured church’
The archbishop said it is “natural for churches to grow,” added that it was “hard work,” and urged his audience to find in their churches news ways of “liberating people to be risk-takers in the service of Christ.”
He spoke of how he became a Christian, how he met his wife, Caroline, and his life in the oil industry before he was ordained.
He spoke of the success of his recent five-day “journey in prayer” around five English cities, attended by more than 12,000 people, before his enthronement at Canterbury Cathedral in March.
In a light-hearted aside, he described how he was approached during the pilgrimage by a man in Chichester Cathedral who did not recognize him.
“This person came up to me and said, ‘I have heard that the Archbishop of Canterbury is here today’ … ‘Is there any chance you could introduce me to him?’ I said, ‘Yes, it is me.’ He said, ‘Oh.’”
Looking ahead, the archbishop said his areas of emphasis would be the renewal of prayer and religious life, reconciliation within the church, and evangelism throughout the nation.
Leading the Royal Albert Hall in prayer, the archbishop called for a “deep setting aside of all that holds us back from you.”
“Forgive your fractured Church, renew our unity, direct our lives, and may we see a revolution in our times,” he said.