New Archbishop of Canterbury gets back to work in Durham

Last week was a big one for Bishop Justin Welby after being announced as the new Archbishop of Canterbury, but between now and his enthronement next March, it's business as usual in Durham.

The Bishop of Durham returned to his home diocese on Saturday and immediately got stuck into supporting a food distribution scheme at Sunderland Minster.

He spent the day meeting church and community representatives as they collected food for the new scheme.

'One for the Basket' was launched last Wednesday and is being supported by local volunteers who are giving up their time to sort and distribute the food among local families struggling to put enough food on the table.

Bishop Welby said: “This is the church doing its stuff. It’s what we do, expressing the love of people in need through practical actions.

“I grew up in a country where the need for this kind of thing did not happen. It was something
that happened in other places. That it happens here now worries me. What I rejoice in is that the church is doing what Jesus calls us to do.

”So much happens that is not seen and the people like those working on One for the Basket are the unseen heroes of the church. It’s easy to stand up at the front and make speeches, they are the people who do the work.”

Sheila Bamber, Canon Provost of Sunderland, part of the team behind the food parcel initiative, said: “We were delighted that he was here to support us. That is something we have valued during his time as Bishop of Durham, that he supports local people and projects and thinks and prays about them.”

The scheme invites people to shop twice - once for themselves and a second time for others in need.

In addition to the establishment of new donation points, the existing faith and community food distributions under coming under one central coordination for the first time.

The visit to Sunderland was Bishop Welby's first public engagement after being announced as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury last Friday.

He said of his appointment: “It was a shock. Earlier in the year, I said that I did not have the experience nor the desire for the job and I remain surprised. However, there is a sense from what people have told me that this is the right thing to do.”

The bishop said he would miss the North East, adding: “I owe it to the region to pray for it and hold it in my heart and thoughts and, through my words, to be an advocate for it as best I can. I love, and care for, this place.”

The Ven Stuart Bain, Archdeacon of Sunderland, said: “There are feelings of disappointment and sadness that he is leaving the diocese but also a sense of pride. He has set the diocese on a direction that we should follow and the gifts and skills that we have seen will serve him well as Archbishop.”