Rowan Williams on being remembered

Thursday, 1 October, 2009

Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, speaks about how he wants to be remembered for the Fresh Expressions initiative when people look back at his time in office.

Duration: 2:27   | Download Download mp3


Rowan Williams: I think if there's one thing I'd like to be remembered for in the Church of England, it's putting my shoulder behind fresh expressions. That's the thing that's most cheered me and encouraged me in recent years.

Interviewer: You've encouraged experimentation in church life and worship and what's come to be called fresh expressions, what is fresh expressions and why is it so important to you?

Rowan Williams: What is it, I think it's simply recognising that the conventional forms of worship and Christian life – going to church on Sunday mornings and so on – are wonderful but they don't answer all the questions. Lots of people don't start there. So how do you get to where people are and start where they are. And that may mean stepping out of the Sunday morning routine, looking for other places, other ways of assembling people around the presence of Jesus. It can be a group of youngsters on a Friday night, it can be a young mothers' group on a Wednesday morning, it can be – and I've seen some of these extraordinary experiments – a regular meeting for skateboarders, it can be a meeting in a country church for an hour of silence every once a fortnight. So, going where people are, that's the heart of it. And it's important to me I think because when I was a bishop in Wales, one of the things I discovered, not really having planned it, one of the things I discovered was that this was happening in lots of contexts all around me. And I felt very strongly, I'm being called to encourage this and give it a bit of a push. So when I first became Archbishop of Canterbury, my first thought was well how do I use this position to further that kind of agenda.

Interviewer: There is an anxiety in the church that that means waving goodbye to traditional worship.

Rowan Williams: And I understand the anxiety, but I don't think it's really justified. The question is, can we… it's a term I've used sometimes, can we be a mixed economy church. Can we do different things equally well. Traditional worship is exactly what it ought to be for a lot of people: it's transforming, it's life-giving, it's joyful. Wonderful, great, let it flourish and do it well, whether it's prayer book services, choral evensong, whatever. And then recognise that's not what will speak to everyone and that doesn't mean it's wrong or bad. It's having the generosity I think to say there's more than one way of expressing.


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
We use spam protection. View privacy policy.