18 March 2019
This month we were lucky enough to be chosen as the only College that the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, would visit during his weekend in the Merseyside region. He joined students from Law, Sociology and Philosophy to discuss and debate a range of different subjects from religion to how young people can affect change.
Jason Byassee, a Methodist Minister from Vancouver, blogged about his experience of visiting KGV with the Archbishop. He outlined, in his blog, what he believed to be a prominent moment during the visit to the diocese of Liverpool.
“Sentamu met with Six Form classes on Law, Sociology, and Philosophy. In the last of those three, we quickly left off the topic of the day (epistemology) as a young girl of eastern European heritage asked the Archbishop whether he could do anything about clergy corruption in her home country. Shouldn’t Europe see to its own house before sending out missionaries to other continents?
What do you mean? Sentamu asked.
“Where I’m from, priests ask for money before they offer to hear people’s confessions.”
Sentamu explained that in Western Christendom we had similar abuses before the Reformation. “Stick with Jesus, who loves you and died for you freely.”
But she persisted. “Can’t you do something about this?”
What blessed insistence. Sentamu has power in the British House of Lords and is known throughout Christendom—couldn’t he put in some calls? The answer, of course, is no. For all our ecumenical progress, church leaders in one country can’t just phone up leaders in another and tell them what to do. If we tried, we’d rightly accused of meddling, even colonizing.
And this is precisely where I saw the Archbishop’s genius. “I’m going to get on my knees this Lent and pray for the church in your home country,” he said. ‘Will you join me? Here is a book about Lent.”
“I can’t read this,” she explained. Church leaders in her home country had warned her off Protestant and Catholic books, threatening that they might lead her to hell.
Sentamu leaped into action: “Young woman! Don’t you want to be free?” He was in her face now, smiling, but also pushing. This was a philosophy class after all—wouldn’t she want to follow the truth wherever it leads?
“Yes,” she said, with growing confidence now.
“Good! Hallelujah! Now read this, so we can pray together,” Sentamu said. “And if you go to hell, I’ll be there with you!”
We were honoured to be chosen as the only college that the Archbishop visited during his trip and his presence was very well received among our students. What a fantastic opportunity for our students, which we can all learn from. It is evident from this visit, that people from different cultures and beliefs can come together, discuss issues and work together towards a mutual goal.
We would like to thank Dr Sentamu and his team for taking the time to talk to our students.