Just announced – The Archbishop of Canterbury is visiting Springfield Church

It’s with enormous pleasure that I can announce that the Archbishop of Canterbury will be visiting Springfield Church to help us celebrate our twentieth anniversary next year. He will be coming to preach and preside for our Sunday morning service on the 18th March, which is appropriately enough Mothering Sunday. How much more appropriate can it be to have the Primate of the church of England coming to Springfield as a recognition that churches such as ours are integral parts of the Church of England and no longer an oddity!

Springfield has always been a different sort of church. Set up to reach out into the community, with no parish and no church building it has always had mission as part of its DNA. We were a Fresh Expression before the term was invented! The thing with Fresh Expressions is that as a church matures then it can change into a “normal” church. In recent years we have recognised this as a potential issue and gone back to our roots – launching a cafe congregation – Springfield@Roundshaw, launching a messy church, changing the format of our toddler group into a messy church format and looking to launch river ministries that go deep into the community.

The idea of inviting ++Rowan (one + for a bishop, two +’s for an archbishop for those who are curious) started last year when I was at the ordination of Julian Staniforth at Canterbury Cathedral and I bumped into the Archbishop before the service when the ordinands were having a cup of coffee and they and their families were mingling. I asked the Archbishop if there was any chance that he might come to our twentieth anniversary celebration, I also asked if he could talk about prayer as I didn’t know how he coped with so much vitriol poured over him without a strong prayer life. He was very kind and took a moment and suggested that I write to him, which I did!

I received the initial acceptance in principle to the invitation three weeks ago but I was asked not to announce it until he could firm up the date, which happens six months prior to the event. I must admit I found it difficult not to be able to share the news with you all! I was told that if I had heard nothing to the contrary by the 18th September that I could go ahead and announce the visit. Well, I haven’t and so I am!

He will be spending the morning with us and I will be discussing the format with the PCC tomorrow night so that we can see how we can best use his visit to encourage and build us all up. When you consider how busy he is – his role as Archbishop, his role in the worldwide Anglican church (just for example he’s off to Zimbabwe next month trying to help with the conflict there and has asked for a meeting with Mugabe)  as well as being diocesan bishop for Canterbury etc then you can appreciate how big this is for us and what a great privilege. I heard ++Rowan preach a wonderful sermon at an HTB conference last year and was even more keen to have him come if he would.

++Rowan has been a keen exponent of what he termed the mixed economy within the Anglican Church, speaking at several of the Fresh Expressions conferences. He recognises that the shape of church within the Church of England (and indeed other denominations) is likely to radically change in the coming decades as I blogged the other day. His visit to us is a practical sign of his enthusiasm for this mixed economy and a huge encouragement for us.

Update

One of the original members of Springfield, Rosie, who came over from the planting church, Holy Trinity Wallington, has just told me that the original day for Springfield Church’s launch was Mothering Sunday – it’s therefore even more appropriate that ++Rowan is coming next year on Mothering Sunday to help us celebrate!

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5 comments on “Just announced – The Archbishop of Canterbury is visiting Springfield Church

  1. layanglicana
    September 18, 2011 at 4:33 pm #

    I am so glad that he has accepted the invitation – a great tribute to you, I think, Will – and it will be an occasion at which I am sure he will be at his best, as he was in explaining to that little girl about why he believed in God. Congratulations to you and to your Fresh Expressions!

  2. nig
    September 18, 2011 at 9:17 pm #

    It’s also good to see that the ++ sports a “snowy beard waving in the wind and eyes twinkling merrily” (thankyou db, sept 11th)

    Maybe this now constitutes an aspirational state of beardliness for all of us?

    • Jean
      September 19, 2011 at 6:49 am #

      Nig, are you referring to ladies of a certain age? Tweezers out girls!

  3. Will Cookson
    September 18, 2011 at 10:16 pm #

    Thanks layanglicana, it’s really a tribute to Springfield. They’re a wonderful set of people and I think this is a great acknowledgement of them all.

    Nigel, I was wondering whether we needed a bearded “guard of honour” for him? The only problem for you is that you’re beard isn’t grey enough yet – but maybe if I work you too hard by then it might turn grey???

  4. Angela Baker
    September 19, 2011 at 9:51 pm #

    Hi Will,
    This is great news (about R. Williams’s visit), & what a lovely way to celebrate our 20th!
    I have fond memories of our 10th Anniversary cabaret, (as I’m sure many Springfield folk do) & can’t wait for our 20th!
    B.t.w., the vicar of our sister church was praying for Springfield last night, (I was visiting). There was a lovely sense there of the unity between our 3 churches (including our ‘parent’ church, HT). Long may that last.
    God bless,
    Angela x

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