Archbishop Welby:  The church did wrongs
August 16, 2013

Archbishop Welby: The church did wrongs

by George Alleyne Fri Aug 16, 2013

Making biblical references to slavery, Archbishop of Canterbury the Right Honourable Justin Welby has said that the church must own up to past wrongs in the Caribbean.{{more}}

“In this part of the world, there is the history of the church in the past acting in oppression. It is no use covering that up, pretending it did not happen, making excuses; it is true,” he said.

Welby, who spoke to hundreds of Barbadian Anglican worshippers on August 9, during a two-day visit to the island on his way to Latin America, at the same time courted acceptance and understanding by saying the church comprises humans, who are not without fault.

This principal leader of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion of some 80 million, spread over 165 countries, added, “We cannot forget that every age and every place we live in today the church is human, and humans make terrible mistakes, and do terrible wrongs, but it is still the family of God”.

Describing the church as God’s building, he said “The church is under construction in the hands of God… and buildings under construction always look a mess”.

He spoke of the Prophet Isaiah in the first reading, with mention of a lost and scattered people suffering politically, economically, culturally, and religiously, but when all hope is gone God answers. “He says I hear you and will save you, and by the way I will also turn the world the other way up, so that those who were slaves will rule and the arrogant rulers will follow all those who were slaves,” Welby said to a packed to overflowing Parish Church of Christ Church.

St Vincent and the Grenadines is within the Windward Islands group that is among seven mainland and island territories with Anglican Diocese in the Caribbean. The others are Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Among clergy at the Friday evening sermon was the Right Reverend Calvert Leopold Friday, Bishop of the Windward Islands.

Still referred to as the West Indies, the region became a self-governing Province of the worldwide Anglican Communion in 1883 because of the Church of England missions in territories that became British colonies.

Archbishop Welby is the 105th in a line of succession of over 1,400 years and who is enthroned in the name of the Queen or King of England. He was named to the Anglican throne in 2012, and this prelate took office on March 31, this year. His Caribbean and Latin American trip is the first since becoming Archbishop.

Welby referred to media revelations upon news of his appointment last year, that unknown to him he had Jewish family who perished at the hands of Nazis in World War Two. He used this example to stress that members of the church are a worldwide family. “We often forget that we belong to each other. We are brothers and sisters in Christ, not by an accident in history, but by a purpose and will in God.

“Families are strange things,” he said, and added “We may not get on well, some do. And, we may not get on at all. And, for most of us it is a mixture of the two”.

He spoke of divided churches looking inwards in despair, “forgetting all those relations around the world, brothers and sisters. When we do that we lose sight of our destiny, our hope. And we are in danger of losing our salvation”.

A trained historian who studied law and worked in the international oil industry, the Most Reverend Welby spoke of current world economic failures, globalization, unfair trade, financial manipulation, injustice, war and cruelty, and asked, “What force can turn the world upside down and serve with love and justice?”

He continued, “The answer, almost unbelievably, is we can. We as people throughout the world, we as a family are called to make that change”.

In a meeting with Barbadian Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, he justified his interest in the affairs of human rights, politics and economics through having the large Anglican membership worldwide, “The capacity for the communion to be involved in government, and development issues surrounding human well-being around the globe is absolutely enormous,” he said.