The fresh expressions’ movement will continue leading the 're-imagination' of the church's ministry – so said the Archbishop of Canterbury during a service to license and commission Canon Phil Potter as the new Archbishops’ Missioner and Team Leader of Fresh Expressions.
The licensing service took place at Lambeth Palace on Wednesday (April 2). Phil Potter, most recently Director of Pioneer Ministry for the Diocese of Liverpool, succeeds Bishop Graham Cray who has held the post since 2009.
Archbishop Justin said Bishop Graham would be ‘a really hard act to follow and, in Phil Potter, I think Fresh Expressions have got one of the few people who can do it well. It’s all in God’s hands and I am confident that Fresh Expressions will continue to lead the re-imagination of the ministry of the church in this country.’
Phil Potter said, ‘This is going to be an exciting and challenging season as we all work together for the renewal of our Church and the re-evangelisation of our nation. I am looking forward immensely to working with new colleagues and forging fresh partnerships in the task of making Christ fully known to all.’
During the service, Archbishop Justin - on behalf of the Provinces of Canterbury and York - gave his license and commission to Canon Potter, who made the Declaration of Assent and the Oaths of Allegiance and Canonical Obedience. Archbishop Justin and the Revd Dr Martyn Atkins, General Secretary of the Methodist Church, then led prayers of commissioning for Canon Potter, joined by members of the congregation.
During his homily, Archbishop Justin noted that those present represented different church denominations and church groups, ‘I want to emphasise that this is truly a work of collaboration by those of different denominations who have been caught up by the life and presence of Jesus Christ,’ he said. ‘We have all come to share, not in an Anglican thing but in something that is the work of the Church of God.’
The Archbishop went on to say that those involved in fresh expressions would need ‘soft hearts and hard feet’ and should be able to run fast ‘to keep up with what God is doing’. He added, ‘It’s about salvation; it’s about God bringing life. It’s about seeing what the Father is doing and joining in. He does it for the sake of the world, not for our sake.’
He concluded ‘with a note of celebration – not triumphalism, because it is all grace’, saying, ‘The latest figures show that God is bringing life. Thirty-four per cent of fresh expressions' worshippers who are over 16 have never been part of a church before. Praise God. Let us…as we pray for Phil, let us come with hope and absolute determination that this is going to become mainstream in all our churches – not an added extra, but something that is part of the busy life of the church.’
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