By Reverend Jim Rosenthal, from St Nicholas Church, Thanet
Snow and ice hit Kent on Saturday morning (yesterday), the day on which the Diocese would welcome their new archbishop at a special cathedral service. Even with the bitter cold, hundreds filled Canterbury Cathedral as a smiling Archbishop Justin Welby entered the west door accompanied by the Dean of Canterbury, the Very Revd Robert Willis and the Bishop of Dover, the Rt Revd Trevor Willmott.
The service was entitled Our Journey into Holy week, and several persons gave their individual testimonies of what the week ahead would mean for them. Archbishop Justin said that Holy Week was a time "to journey together" and to "say yes to the invitation" to be partners in Christ's mission and plan for the world.
He also said that "How much God loves us is what makes us fit" for His service and that accepting Christ's love and his call will mean our "being with Him forever".
The new archbishop said,"Jesus loves us and we must share that love". Again, speaking of mission, he said "Our proclamation must be world changing, that world that we dream of".
The 57-year-old primate said that we must "learn to love" to one another, even when "difficult". He said that "the way we live together" even in our diversity, is an important witness to the world, yes "even when we disagree".
Present at the service was the Most Revd Ian Ernest, Archbishop of the Indian Ocean.
The diocese of Madagascar in that province is the companion link for the Diocese of Canterbury and the offering was designated for them.
Archbishop Justin invited Archbishop Ernest to give the final Blessing and it was in French.The Dean made reference in his remarks to the important of the Cathedral being the Mother Church of the world-wide Anglican Communion, as well as the diocese.
The first hymn was the same hymn that was used to conclude the Inauguration Service on Thursday. So to the strains of "And Can It Be That I should gain" the two services were, as the Dean remarked "linked together".
The 90 minute service included a Gospel Choir from Christ Church University of which the Archbishop is Chancellor.
Traditional and more modern hymns and songs were sung with the Men and Boys singing Bach's Passion Chorale and Vaughan Williams' Love bade me welcome by George Herbert. Murray Wilkinson, Diocesan Youth Ministry Advisor, sang some worship songs as a prelude to the gathering.
Members of the Archbishop's Council led the prayers and there were several interview slots; including a conversation with Bishop Willmott and the very young students from Bredgar Primary School. Readings were from Isaiah 61 and Luke's account of the entry into Jerusalem.
Archbishop Justin spoke briefly about the Inauguration Ceremony and called the experience "uplifting, enjoyable"; and thanked the Dean for the "Rolls Royce smoothness" of it all.
He said, "I had fun!".
On Thursday evening the Archbishop and his wife Caroline, attended a dinner for over 300 at the University of Kent at Canterbury, organised by the Nikaean Club, a group of clergy and laity that helps the archbishop in matters ecumenical, especially the hosting of visiting dignitaries operating through Lambeth Palace and Colin Menzies its chairman.
Leaders of the Philippine Independent Church, Orthodox Churches, the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutherans, as well as some Anglican bishops, were present.
The archbishop made special mention of the presence of Pastor Rick Warren, a well known Protestant leader in the USA and the Revd Nicky Gumble from Holy Trinity Brompton, London from whence comes the Alpha Course.
Archbishop Welby will preside at the Palm Sunday rites and Sung Eucharist at 11am and will bring to the clergy together for the annual Renewal of Vows and the Chrism Mass at 11am on Maundy Thursday. He will celebrate and preach at 11am Easter Day in the Cathedral.
In the prayers at the Saturday welcome, the following was offered: Bless those who lead the church's worship at this solemn time especially Archbishop Justin and Pope Francis in their new ministries.
Bless this our diocese and Bishop Trevor.
In the preaching of the word and the celebration of the sacraments draw people close to you. By the Saviour's cross and passion, Lord save us and help us.