Archbishop of Canterbury looking forward to Shropshire visit
The Archbishop of Canterbury will visit a farm, a brewery and take a trek through the Shropshire countryside on a visit to the county next week.
Beginning on Monday, The Most Reverend Justin Welby, leader of the Church of England, will embark on a three-day tour of the Diocese of Hereford.
The diocese, with 420 churches in 356 parishes, stretches from Ross-on-Wye in the south to Telford in the north.
Ahead of his trip, the Archbishop said he was looking forward to getting to know the area and paid tribute to the Rt Revd Richard Frith, the Bishop of Hereford, who retires later this year.
He said: "I’m looking forward to being in Hereford Diocese immensely. Herefordshire and Shropshire form part of the agricultural backbone of the country and I’m excited to learn more about the rural economy and how churches are serving in numerous ways.
"I’m also looking forward to visiting towns in the diocese, including Telford and Ludlow. It’s a great joy to be able to visit new expressions of Church, to witness important social projects and see how the good news of Jesus is being communicated in 2019.
"As he retires, I am grateful for all that has been achieved under Bishop Richard’s leadership in the last few years and thankful to him and his staff for all the preparations and anticipate making many new friends on the visit."
The Archbishop will spend Monday in Hereford before heading for Shropshire on Tuesday. He will begin the day at St Laurence's Church, where he will launch the Hereford Diocese ‘Mission & Mortar’ digital tool kit, which is designed to help parishioners rejuvenate their church buildings.
It is hoped that the tool kit, which has been developed with £38,000 of funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, will eventually be rolled out nationally.
Wendy Coombey, community partnership and funding officer for the Diocese, said: "Our church buildings are key to rural community life. They’re sacred and holy spaces, loved by many whether they’re Christians or not.
"But we must make our church buildings fit for the 21st Century – we need more loos, more kitchens, more creative use of the space.
"With rural areas losing services, such as shops, pubs and schools, the church must rise to the challenge of using our building to help people in all sorts of new ways."
The Archbishop will spend lunch time with farmers at a 'butty van' on a farm near Much Wenlock, before heading for the Sutton Hill Community Centre in Telford. He will then stretch his legs on a prayer walk up Clee Hill with a youth group from Cleobury Mortimer.
In the evening, the Archbishop will share a drink with people at Ludlow Brewery, at a ‘Setting God’s People Free’ event, an initiative which helps people live a Christian life.
The Rt Revd Richard Frith, Bishop of Hereford said: "We are all looking forward to the Archbishop’s visit. Our team has put a tremendous amount of work into planning the event so that Archbishop Justin can be part of all the exciting work that’s being done in our diocese."