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Sixth Form Q&A with the Archbishop of Canterbury

On Friday 12th September the Archbishop of Canterbury arrived in Bristol to tour the diocese, and we were very privileged and fortunate that he chose to kick-start his weekend by visiting our sixth form for an informal Q&A session which lasted an hour, demonstrating his real commitment to young people and to education.  


Addressing the Sixth Form

To start things off the three of us on ‘the panel’ asked a few questions that were more scripted to allow the Archbishop to introduce himself: who he is, what he does, what his work involves and his plans for the future. It was particularly interesting to hear him talk about his role within the Church of England, and he seemed like a genuinely humble guy, playing down his own importance and talking about the importance of everyone’s involvement and how decisions must be make collectively if they are to be for the benefit of the whole church. He was also very focused on the church being of service to the wider community.


Rachel writes that

One of my questions focused on why he, as the Archbishop, felt he should be concerned with the worlds of business and finance, considering this is a topic he has spoken out on strongly. His answer included an explanation of how our practical lives and our spiritual lives are not independent of each other. As a Christian myself, I found this response very helpful.


Questions were then open to the floor and the audience of roughly 70 people did not hold back. The Archbishop was grilled on many hotly debated topics such as relations with other faiths, our approach to the Bible, church unity, LGBT inclusion, the role of women and euthanasia. He answered all questions thoroughly, reflectively and respectfully, and gave some real insight to all the different aspects of an issue he has to consider when making decisions. 


We were very struck by how open and honest he was. He shared numerous personal stories with us, the most memorable of which being his reconciliation work in Nigeria where he worked with a Christian community and a Muslim community to prevent the violence that was occurring between the two groups.  


Afterwards, the three of us headed up to BBC Radio Bristol to do a live interview on our experience, which was a bit scary but seemed to go well.


By Rachel Gallop, Richie Betts and Fatin Guled.