Former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, The Rt Revd and Rt Hon The Lord Williams of Oystermouth, visited the North East today (Sunday July 21) to help celebrate the charitable work of Christian Aid.
During his visit, he praised the generosity of the region’s people who donate to the charity despite the difficult economic times being experienced by the North East.
The service at a packed Sunderland Minster was organised as a celebration of the work of Christian Aid North East and was held in partnership with the Anglican Diocese of Durham and Sunderland Churches.
Dr Williams was invited to preach by the North East team of Christian Aid and it was one of the first high profile Christian Aid event at which he had preached since he became chair of the national board of trustees of the organisation in May. It was also Dr Williams’ first public engagement in the diocese of his successor as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.
Christian Aid and its partners work to bring an end to poverty around the world, raising funds and supporting projects which tackle its root causes as well as its effects.
Christian Aid has already raised more than £500,000 in the North East this year alone and, in his sermon, Dr Williams spoke of the power of love and the value of partnerships that had made that happen, saying: “Love is to be swept up by a tide of energy so enormous that it can be frightening.”
Praising the work of Christian Aid volunteers, he said: “We are involved in Christian Aid not through a stern sense of duty but through a sense that we are sharing in God’s project, God’s life-giving plan. God calls upon our volunteers and our partners to share in his work.”
Paying tribute to those who work to support Christian Aid, he said the key to success was friendship and partnership. He said: “Nothing will truly, lastingly be achieved without partnership and friendship.”
Dr Williams praised the North East, pointing out that despite the area’s difficult economic experiences, people continue to donate to Christian Aid. He said: “This is not a prosperous part of the UK but its people have shared life and reached out to help others come alive. That is what we are celebrating, the generosity of the vulnerable.”
The service was attended by a number of dignitaries from around the region, including the Right Revd Mark Bryant, Bishop of Jarrow, who gave the final blessing.
Judith Sadler, Christian Aid’s regional manager, said: “This event was a huge affirmation of the significant work that is done by Christian Aid’s volunteers and partners in the North East. They do amazing work. The service was a reminder of the theological basis to the work that we do.”