Message from the Revd Chris Russell, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Advisor for Evangelism and Witness

Published: Tuesday June 4, 2024

Chris Russell staring to the side in a thoughtful and prayerful mannerThe Revd Chris Russell accompanied Archbishop Justin over the Big Mission Weekend. We asked him to reflect on his experiences.

During our time in Gloucester last weekend, it struck me again that one of my main jobs is to support the Archbishop.

The privilege of being alongside the Archbishop on a back-to-back schedule is being able to make it possible for him to be continually engaged, both effectively and authentically. During the weekend in Gloucester, it meant getting him to places on time, briefing him on what was required at each event, and being on hand to support him and hold things. And not losing the iPad.

The weekend was wonderful. Truly wonderful. On Friday in St Matthew’s School, the Most Revd Justin interacted with those wonderful children who explored the meaning of Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan, and who also sang their hearts out with catchy songs from iSingPOP… ‘Hey hey hey, we can flourish today day day’…  

At the community café and shop in Amberley, many took the chance to share their stories with him, explaining how this place gave them community, belonging, and care.

In Cirencester and Brimscombe, he encountered the energy and vision of the brilliant Grace Network, a Christian community initiative that is as engaged, creative, and respected as we have ever seen.

Saturday was a whirl, starting with Messy Church at St Paul’s and St George’s in Gloucester and then an ecumenical prayer walk. We experienced some holy moments with those who have been impacted by the transforming ministry of the Nelson Trust, and were then keeping a sense of humour with the Steampunks. This was followed by throwing the rounders ball to start the game with Sportily on a school field in Innsworth. The Archbishop raised his hands joyfully to bless the ground which the Church Housing Association were about to build on, and opened his arms to the 80 or so community partners gathered at Pip and Jim’s in Cheltenham, who were there to talk, learn and commit to partnership for the sake of others.

After the service on Sunday was a time to enable the Most Revd Justin to hold open his hands in prayer. After the wonderful service in Tidenham the church had arranged for over 24 groups of people to come and meet him and pray together. We stopped by a wonderful church community in Blakeney for lunch and listening.

The weekend came to a crescendo as we joined with great joy in the awe-inspiring cathedral, alongside the even more awe-inspiring people of God.

It was a weekend of giving and receiving, of hearing and learning, of joining in and blessing. We left full of happiness at what we had been able to take part in, full of energy for what we had been part of, and full of esteem for those we met and especially +Rachel for all she is enabling, releasing and investing in.

The outstanding thing is that of course, of course, such weekends are not about the Archbishop. Or his arms. But about Jesus’ arms – those arms which picked children up and blessed them, the arms of the father that ran to welcome home the prodigal, the hands that washed feet, the hands that broke bread, the arms that spread wide in love, the hands that bear the wounds of love on the transformed body that will never die. For what this weekend was about was not what churches, clergy, charities, bishops, housing associations, schools, archbishops are doing. But what God is doing.

But, as we were reminded in the tiny school in Randwick as the head teacher read a prayer by St Teresa of Avila – God does his work through our hands, our eyes, our ears, our feet, our mouths. This is not just about one of us. It’s about all of us – not just one of us. This is why we do what we do – because of the transforming hands and of Jesus – which remake a broken world.


Life Together logo

One thought on “Message from the Revd Chris Russell, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Advisor for Evangelism and Witness

Leave a Reply

Most popular articles today: