The Archbishop of Canterbury is calling on the Church to put aside its own conflicts in order to bring peace around the world.
Stressing one of his three core aims – reconciliation, along with evangelism and prayer – Justin Welby warned Christians would lack authenticity if they were not reconciled to each other. It came as he launched The Reconciling Leaders Network – a worldwide initiative training churchgoers to bring peace to different factions.
'We are seeking to tackle not only conflict but the underlying causes that drives people to conflict,' said Welby.
'That is why I am absolutely impassioned by it,' he added.
Speaking to more than 150 politicians, military chiefs and church leaders at Lambeth Palace on Tuesday night, he said, 'Hate is not necessary, essential, or always conquering'.
Before being appointed Archbishop Welby worked for a time as director of reconciliation at Coventry Cathedral, travelling around the Middle East and Africa, particularly Kenya, the DRC and Nigeria, where he brokered peace deals between warring tribes.
Now an expert in Nigerian politics and history, Welby brought his background in reconciliation to Lambeth Palace when appointed Archbishop and made it a priority alongside prayer and evangelism for his tenure.
'Hate is overcome in Christ, and if we work at this we can enable many places and many parts of the world to overcome hatred and violence – in families and at every level of human society,' he said.
'If the Church is to be convincing that Jesus came from the Father, died on the cross, rose from the dead, ascended and will return, if we are to have any authenticity in that, we must be reconciled reconcilers. We must be people who are completely reconciled to God – or en route; we won't get there in this life; we must be reconciling to each other – and, essentially, we must share that reconciliation with the world, so that they see what Jesus does to change lives.'
Sarah Synder, one of the Archbishop's top aides and advisor for reconciliation, said the Church must follow Jesus' example of loving 'not only our neighbour' but enemies as well.
'When churches live out this calling, not only within their own congregations, but serving the wider communities around them, they are deeply relevant and attractive,' she said.
'Reconciliation, lived out, is an act of mission. And it applies to every one of us, whether serving cups of coffee, or mediating international conflict.'