The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams was a big hit when he visited Cirencester last week
THE Archbishop of Canterbury arrived in Cirencester last week at the start of his three-day visit to Gloucestershire.
Dr Rowan Williams arrived at Cirencester Parish Church at 11am on Friday, where he was welcomed by Bishop of Gloucester the Rt Revd Michael Perham, along with Father Leonard Doolan and children from Powell’s School.
Addressing the packed church, the Archbishop described the turnout as “a delight”. “I’m truly delighted to be in this wonderful place and in this wonderful church,” he said.
“I’m very conscious of the long history of Cirencester, and here of course we are right on the edge of gods own country of Wales,” joked Dr Williams, who was previously Archbishop of Wales.
“This is an area I’ve always deeply loved and I’m sure the next days will warmly intensify this love.”
He added he was pleased to see so many children to welcome him. “You’re in the process of discovering the Christian faith and for you all of this is fresh and new, and this is what we need to hear from,” he said.
“I want to ask all who are on the younger end of the spectrum to remind all the rest of us what it is like to feel faith anew.”
Welcoming the Archbishop, Bishop Perham said he was delighted to welcome him to Cirencester.
“Everybody says there two great events this year – the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic Games but in Gloucestershire we’ve known for a while there are actually three,” he said.
The Archbishop moved from the Church to the church coffee shop on Dollar Street where he met a number of prominent figures in the Cirencester community, including Cotswold District Council chairman Cllr Sir Edward Horsefall and Cirencester Mayor Cllr Andrew Lichnowski, along with a number of members of the public.
He later met members of The Upper Room, a support group for vulnerable people, part of a church initiative called Fresh Expressions, before leaving for Cheltenham on the next stage of his visit.
Upper Room leader Kim Hartshorne said his visit was a huge boost to the group.
“It was amazing for someone so busy and so important to give so much one-to-one time and attention,” she said.
“He was so relaxed and walked around the room talking to everyone one by one.
“One lady got emotional while she was telling him her story and he just sat and held her hand in silence.
“People expected it to be quite a formal visit but it really wasn’t.”
Father Leonard said he was “absolutely thrilled” with how well the day had gone.
“Not only were there 600 people in the church to greet him, about 100 others were gathered outside to see him arrive,” he said.
“In the two and a half hours he was here he engaged with around 800 people – it was a very efficient use of time.
“A lot of people came to me afterwards and said how warm and relaxed he was – overall it was a very memorable day.”
For a full set of pictures from the Archbishop's visit, see the gallery under the related links tab to the right of this page.