Archbishop of Canterbury praises work by Norwich Diocese but issues warning about rural isolation
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has praised the work that the church is doing in Norwich but raised concerns about isolated areas in Norfolk.
The Archbishop had been at Norwich Cathedral to give a speech titled Reflections on Reconciliation.
He was joined by Pastor Rolf Stahl from Koblenz, Norwich’s German twin-town and Dr Marian Prinsley, President of the Norwich Hebrew Congregation.
Speaking afterwards the Archbishop said: “It has been really uplifting because I have seen fantastic examples of what the church is doing every single day.
“Which is helping people with a lot of different things. Helping ex-offenders, feeding those who are hungry, breaking down isolation, the work going on in night shelters, dealing with reconciliation in broken families which can put teenagers at risk and looking after those who have left care and maybe at risk.
“It has all been frankly the day-to-day work of the church.”
The Archbishop had spent the day in Norwich speaking with market traders, fashion students and members of the public visiting Norwich for the first time since 2013.
The leader of the Church of England said that isolation and uncertainty about the economy’s future are major problems in rural parts of Norfolk.
He added: “Isolation is a real issue and another is within the farming community is a sense of what the ground rules are going to be in the next few years.
“You might be looking at investing in a new milking shed or changing the farm but you need to have a sense of what is coming.
“Communication, how do you grow a small business when broadband is negligible to not existent and the telephone companies are unaware that people live outside the M25.”
The Archbishop also had kind words for the longest serving bishop, the Bishop of Norwich Graham James, after announcing his retirement.
“I often ask his advice, he is extraordinary. The church attendance in the Diocese of Norwich is great.
“Churches are working unbelievably hard and Norwich Diocese has more historic churches than any other. Yet they continue to grow and Graham has done an incredible job.”
The Archbishop - who is spending three days in Norfolk - spoke of the importance of the regional press and revealed he has been a reader of the Eastern Daily Press for many years.
He said: “The paper [Eastern Daily Press] is always really good as it does the local coverage, with the fetes, events and marriages and deaths covering important issues at a local level.
“But it also has some really good international and national news some thoughtful comments. It is very measured and balanced.
“It makes for the paper to be a very enjoyable read.”
When asked about whether he liked Norwich City, the Archbishop joked: “I don’t follow cricket.
“I wouldn’t call myself a football supporter but I am always happy when they win.”