Archbishop of York says he'll listen to young people and urges C of E to 'learn afresh how to share

The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, has called on members of the Church of England to "learn afresh how to share the gospel in the world" and said that he will listen to the voices of young people. 

In his first public address since his confirmation as Archbishop, he spoke at the Church assembly's online gathering of how difficult the lockdown has been and the situation it places the church in. 

Archbishop Stephen said it had been a time where people have experienced a "stripping back of our lives", bringing hardship but also clarity and a renewed focus on God.

"Do not misunderstand me," he said.

"I hugely miss our church buildings and our liturgy, just as I also miss going to the cinema and eating in restaurants, or just having a coffee; and I grieve for the fact that I was not able to say goodbye to the diocese of Chelmsford in the ways I wanted, nor am I able to hug my new grandson without donning a mask; and I cry out for the pain of all those socially distanced funerals, the thousands of people who have died alone, the baptisms, weddings and ordinations that have had to be postponed; the economic misery which is around the corner and the devastating impact of this pandemic upon the whole life of our world.

"But neither can I deny, that it has forced me to encounter things about myself which I had allowed to remain hidden behind the security of the things I have had to relinquish."

He spoke about a group he is leading to discern a strategy for the Church for the next decade and said nothing has been decided yet but that propositions will be made at Synod next year to be discussed. 

He added that the Church’s voice remains “overly-dominated” by people who are “usually white, usually male, usually with a certain sort of education, usually over 60”.

"At the moment I am engaged in a very wide ranging discussion with people from all across the church but with a particular determination to draw in and listen to the voices of younger Christians and those whose voices are not usually so easily heard in Church," he added.

He concluded: "So, dear General Synod, as we enter some turbulent times and some challenging decisions, we are just going to have to learn again how to love one another, love the world and love God so that, both individually and collectively, we can be the place where God is revealed.

"We've not always been very good at this.

"We have allowed ourselves to become tribal and divided.

"We have allowed secondary things to obscure our belonging to each other.

"The Holy Spirit reveals Christ in us; and through us may we learn afresh how to share the gospel in the world."

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