The soon-to-be Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, visited one of Nottingham’s largest churches on Sunday night.
Nearly one thousand five hundred people gathered at the Trent Vineyard church on Lenton Lane, exceeding normal congregation numbers. Around 250 people had to watch the events via video link from an on-site overflow room.
The evening began with a time of musical worship followed by an interview in which Welby and his wife Caroline each described how they “came to know Jesus”, their career in the Anglican Church, and their surprise at Welby being elected to the position of Archbishop. Welby then gave a short address; he said he believed that now was “the greatest moment of opportunity for the Church since the end of the Second World War”, given that banking collapse and subsequent cuts have left so many people in need.
A former oil executive, Welby has taken part in peace negotiations with militants in West Africa. He is currently Bishop of Durham, and will officially become Archbishop of Canterbury at a service at St Paul’s Cathedral in London on the 4th February.
He takes over from Rowan Williams as the Anglican Church’s main leader; a role which also requires him to sit in the House of Lords.
Welby assumes this position at a time of much uncertainty for the Anglican Church. A vote last November denied women the role of bishop. There are also doubts that the government will hold to its promise that churches will not have to conduct gay marriages should the Equal Marriage Bill be passed in February.
Welby said his belief in the “faithfulness of God” meant that he was “optimistic for the future of the church in Britain”.