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22nd July 2006
You can't be a Christian and leave out the awkward bits
Tuesday 11th July at 5.30pm at Sheffield Cathedral the Rt Revd John Gladwin, The Bishop of Chelmsford, admitted 10 men and 4 women from Church Army’s Wilson Carlile College of Evangelism to the office of Evangelist within the Anglican Church.
Bishop John performed his formal duties on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and The Most Revd Dr Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales reminded the new evangelists just how challenging their calling is by quoting from war poet Wilfred Owen- "I don't think it is possible to call yourself a Christian and leave out the awkward bits...I wouldn't want a faith that couldn't face the facts."
The Archbishop said that to be effective evangelists have to be able to face the facts about the culture in which they operate- a culture in which 90% may say they believe in God but most never darken the doors of a church building.
Archbishop Barry praised the work of Church Army for bringing the Church "into direct confrontation with the injustices and challenges that so many in our communities face and whose daily lives remain a struggle for survival.", and added that "our ministry is not an end in itself; it is about the resourcing of the people of God". He described evangelists as the ones who are often best equipped to help those who are alienated by the rules and regulations of the church, and who can communicate the truth of the gospel in language that ordinary people can understand.
The wide ranging sermon reflected the realities for those who for one reason or another feel that " God has given them a raw deal or let them down." and asked that evangelists should be ready to respond to the difficult and awkward questions about God that that deserve answers that have been thought through and prayed through.
At the commissioning service on the following day (12th July), Church Army Chief Secretary Philip Johanson presiding over his last commissioning service before becoming Church Army International's new International Secretary added: “It is my hope and prayer that those being commissioned today will want to share what they have discovered and what they are discovering about Christ and will count it a privilege to do so."
Addressing the newly commissioned evangelists directly, Johanson concluded: "Live out the privilege of telling others and take hold of the privilege of praying to equip you for the challenges and the opportunities ahead."
Amongst those being commissioned: Kinder Kalsi, who recently launched Sheffield's first cafe church; Richard Thomas who heads up the new Bridge project for homeless women based in Marylebone and Lizzie Wallace who pioneered a streereach initiative in Wadlsley that has been a centrepiece of Church Army's Get Out More campaign.
For more information on this story contact David Coleman Communications Manager of the Church Army
The complete texts of the sermons are available via the weblink below.