Justin Welby to ascend into heaven, Church of England announces

The Archbishop of Canterbury is to ascend into heaven next Tuesday, the Church of England announced today.

The Most Rev Justin Welby had previously announced plans for a sabbatical, but its precise shape and form remained a closely-guarded secret until this point.

Now, however, a spokesperson for Lambeth Palace has revealed that the Prelate will ascend directly into Glory next week – and may not even return to resume his responsibilities as previously planned.

The spokesperson said: "It was while watching re-runs of popular 1970s BBC sitcom Are You Being Served? that Justin had his moment of revelation.

"As everyone knows, Are You Being Served? Is TV gold for him – he loves watching it endlessly on a loop after a tiring day archbishopping. As he listened to the opening title song and heard the refrain 'going up' he at once knew that his time on earth was limited.

"After a period of intense study during which he decoded some obscure parts of the Book of Revelation, he realised that his ascension would be taking place next Tuesday, probably at about 10am, after breakfast."

The spokesperson added: "As everyone knows, Justin Welby has been the greatest spiritual leader since Moses. Like Moses, his name is forever associated with two tablets – although in the Archbishop's case that refers to the two tablets of paracetamol he has to take after Archbishops' Council meetings in order to recover.

"And whereas Moses was known for smiting his staff, Justin actually gets on very well with his staff, and regularly treats them to a Dominoes pizza if they have to pray late."

He added: "So it seems only fitting that Justin should go one better than Moses and ascend directly into heaven next week."

The Archbishop is expected to ascend from one of the towers of Lambeth Palace in order to provide a more direct lift-off. A special departure platform is being constructed with a gantry to hold the Archbishop in place until zero hour arrives. Air Traffic Control has been notified so that planes can be re-routed in order not to obstruct the Archbishop's trajectory.

After entering near-earth orbit, Welby will jettison his mitre and crook before circling the earth several times for one last victory lap and a final wave goodbye. He will then accelerate towards a velocity close to the speed of light, after which he will be seen no more.

Over in the United States, former President Donald Trump said he "fully expected" to be asked to take on the role of next Archbishop of Canterbury after Welby's ascension, declaring that he was "a big, big fan of God and all that kind of stuff".

Mr Trump added that he had in fact been elected as Pope in 2013, rather than Pope Francis, maintaining that he was cheated of the post due to "some really kooky goings on in the Papal Conclave."

The former President said this was most likely due to Bill Gates implanting Venezuelan-made microchips into the round hats worn by cardinals which programmed their brains to ignore his "strong, strong" candidacy.

Happy April Fools! 

David Baker is a Church of England minister, Contributing Editor at Christian Today, and Senior Editor of Evangelicals Now.