Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby Picture: Revd Mark Nelson and Jenna Nelson

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Hon and Rt Revd Justin Welby, is preparing to spend the week running up to Easter in the Maidstone area. During Holy Week (24 – 30 April), the Archbishop will visit churches, children’s groups, businesses and community outreach projects.

The visit will look at areas of revitalisation and where collaboration in the local community is leading to growth and regeneration.

Archbishop Justin said: “Christian faith is rooted in the history of Jesus and particularly the story of Holy Week and Easter. This is the most important week of the Church year – because the events we remember and celebrate make us who we are. In Jesus’ decisions, his teaching, his suffering, his giving of his life and his rising to new life, everything changes for everyone.

“His violent death is not the disaster those who witnessed it thought – but because God shares our pain, suffers for us and dies our death this day is called Good Friday. But the greatest surprise happened 3 days later. Easter Sunday heralds the promise of new and everlasting life that is ours because the stone is rolled away, the tomb is empty and the one who was dead meets his friends alive! The cosmic event that took place that first Easter 2,000 years ago signifies the greatest hope, showing us that death is not the end, but the beginning of God making all things new.  

“I am really looking forward to being with the churches and people of Maidstone in the wonderful Diocese of Canterbury throughout Holy Week this year. I am excited to join with God’s people in praise and prayer, as well as meeting those who have not yet met Jesus or heard the good news of his suffering and death for us and the promise of the Easter story. It is my hope and prayer that as we retell this story it becomes, either for the first time or once again, our story, and we receive the faith, hope and love God has for each of us.”

The Maidstone Deanery has 10 churches serving a population of 155,000 people and three church schools. Rev Gareth Dickinson, Maidstone Area Dean, said:

“We’re excited to welcome Archbishop Justin to Maidstone Deanery to join us in the mission of God. As a deanery our desire is to share the extravagant and unconditional love of Jesus Christ and the new life that he offers to all. Our vision is to see the Anglican church grow by 1,000 new followers of Jesus by 2030 as we work collaboratively across the deanery.”

The Maidstone deanery has recently been awarded grant funding from the Church of England to develop the partnership between St Luke’s, a thriving church which has trebled its congregation over the last three years to around 150 people, and St Faith’s, a church plant into a housing estate from last year that is already growing. St. Luke’s will also explore how it can become a resourcing church to other churches in Maidstone.

By Ed

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