I was greatly honoured to host a reception on Friday evening for the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. The Archbishop’s interview by Jeremy Vine, followed by audience questions from a packed University of Worcesterer Arena, revealed a man with a real depth of compassion and humanity.
Archbishop Justin spent years in the oil industry before his ordination into the Church of England. He was candid about doing his school homework behind his hymn book in school assemblies. He also spoke with emotion about his discovery that the man who raised him was not, in fact, his biological father and about his daughter’s depression.
Challenged over issues such as celibacy and abortion, the Archbishop’s carefully crafted answers showed understanding of the wider issues whilst honestly explaining the church’s position.
Many people in Worcestershire and Dudley will have heard and seen our Archbishop during his very busy schedule on this diocesan visit. I hope they were as impressed as I have been in his presence.
On Sunday morning, Lynn and I visited Worcester Gymnastic Club in Diglis, where we watched very talented youngsters working hard to improve their skills. This successful club has about 1,000 members and a waiting list. We hope that some of them will achieve regional, national and international recognition in future.
Later, we presented medals to cyclists completing the Worcestershire Tour. Our busy day ended in Gloucester Cathedral where we attended Gloucester Mayor Neil Hampson’s civic service.
On Monday we were back in the Arena for the Pride and Prejudice Conference about hate crimes. It is very sad that, in 2016, a number of our residents still think it is acceptable to make other people’s lives miserable by abusing them simply because they are different. Moving accounts by the mother and sister of a hate victim who was killed emphasised why we all need to be ready to challenge this behaviour.