Archbishop of Canterbury applauds the work of City Pastors

Mark and Jo JowettJo writing:

“When I received a phone call from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s office about his proposed visit to Birmingham in February, I thought there was some kind of mistake.

“The person who rang me proceeded to explain that the Archbishop was visiting Birmingham and since he had heard about the City Pastors project, he wanted to come out on a shift with us to find out about our work. The prospect of hosting such an influential and prominent visitor on one of our shifts certainly felt like a tremendous honour.

“In the month prior to the visit, preparations were in full swing. We planned to hold a reception for the leaders of the churches our volunteers are from. Meeting the Archbishop would prove to have some appeal to them but we also realised it would help fulfil a long-held aim that we could gather these church leaders together to envision them about the project.

Jo and Mark with the Archbishop and Bishop on Broad Street“Putting things in place for a high-profile visitor proved to be quite a task. As well as arranging the reception, we had to liaise with the Police, the BID (Business Improvement District), the media and get special parking permission and other logistical arrangements in place. It was all quite exciting but as the time approached, I started getting more nervous.

“Archbishop Justin arrived for the reception along with Bishop David who joined the church leaders and City Pastors present in listening to a short presentation about the project.With warmth and humour, the Archbishop addressed the gathering and then prayed a lovely, spirit-filled prayer of blessing over us.

With the Archbishop on Broad Street“Mark and I – who both serve on the City Pastors Leadership Team – then escorted the Archbishop’s party up onto Broad Street where we were met by a much larger than expected gathering.

“Our initial intention had been to keep the visit low-key to allow us the time to talk to Archbishop Justin and Bishop David about what we do and introduce them to some of the key people we work with on the street. I guess it was inevitable that this wouldn’t happen if the media were involved! It would be good profile for the project but the visit did risk being somewhat hijacked.

“We spent the next hour walking up and down Broad Street, meeting door staff, Police, paramedics and clubbers while at the same time sharing about how the project seeks to care for people on the streets of Birmingham every weekend.

“Our esteemed guests seemed to be enjoying themselves getting a feel for Birmingham’s night-life and they proved to be a real hit with everyone they met, with the Archbishop posing for the odd selfie with random clubbers!The archbishop doing an interview to cameraIt was a pretty full-on experience.

“Between us, Mark and I found ourselves not just hosting our special guests to give them a great experience of the city, but also managing the BBC Midlands Today reporter and cameraman, photographers, BID representatives and lots of additional attention from the public!

“As we escorted Archbishop Justin and Bishop David down to Southside to meet the team on duty there, the media left and relative calm was restored. Their visit to this part of the visit, which incorporates the Gay Village and Chinese quarter, provided a further insight into the night-time economy in our wonderful city.

“On a Sunday soon after, Mark went to check our pigeon-hole at church and found a letter with a ‘Lambeth Palace’ stamp on the front of the envelope. We opened it to find a personal letter from  Archbishop Justin. In it he says this: ‘Your work is… clearly a great gift for the city and for the church. I was very struck by the way in which the call to service not only delivers God’s love and power of transformation to those to whom the  service is directed, but also among those who are serving.’

“This was a great honour for City Pastors and it was an occasion we will not easily forget.”

Jo Jowett

City Pastors LogoCity Pastors Leadership Team










26th Mar 2015 Posted in: News, St John's Stories by Stella Jennings 0

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