Bishop Welby says farewell to Durham

Published 29 January 2013
Bishop Justin Welby at his farewell service with wife Caroline

A service of farewell was held on Monday for the Bishop of Durham and Archbishop of Canterbury Elect, the Right Reverend Justin Welby.

The service at Durham Cathedral was Bishop Welby's last public engagement in the diocese before he receives his legal title as Archbishop of Canterbury.

Bishop Welby will have the legal title of Archbishop of Canterbury bestowed on him at a formal service in St Paul's Cathedral in London on 4 February.

His public ministry will be inaugurated at an enthronement service at Canterbury Cathedral on 21 March.

Speaking in an interview before the service, Bishop Welby said becoming Archbishop of Canterbury was "a huge privilege".

Reflecting on the prospects for Durham Diocese in the face of a possible triple-dip recession, Bishop Welby admitted there were "huge" challenges but added that the Church was there to be a source of light and peace in communities.

"Whether we go into a triple-dip or not, whatever does happen it's going to go on being pretty dark economically," he said.

"However, at the centre of the Church is Jesus Christ, who is described as the light of the world, and the darker the world, the more obvious the light."

He praised the work of churches that are supporting those in need by running food distribution centres across England.

"That's the light of the world in the dark times in very practical ways," he said.

"The church has often been at its best at times of difficulty because, as people are drawn into worship, they find someone who is faithful, whatever happens."

Acknowleding the disputes on women bishops and differences of opinion on sexuality, Bishop Welby said the Church of England needed to find a way forward in spite of these challenges.

"The Church at a national level has to be outward-looking and a body that is engaging, not looking inwards and consumed by its own problems," he said.

"I am optimistic that we can make progress."

The Right Revd Mark Bryant, Bishop of Jarrow, thanked Bishop Welby for leaving a "legacy of hope" despite leading the diocese for only a year.

"There is a sadness. People in the North-East feel we are losing someone in the corridors of power who understands them," he said.

"If you were told that you only had a bishop for a year, Bishop Justin is an example of what that bishop would have done.

"There is a real sense in the Diocese that the future must be about continuity of the work that he has done. There is a real sense of a church that is growing in the region. He leaves us with a legacy of hope."

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