Skip to comments.Archbishop opens English hearts to an African rhythm
Posted on 11/30/2005 4:28:14 PM PST by Pikamax
Archbishop opens English hearts to an African rhythm By Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent Dr John Sentamu's inauguration as Britains first black archbishop: read the sermon and the full Order of Service here
Dr John Sentamu outside York Minster (DAVID BEBBER)
BRITAINS first black archbishop beat the drums for a new Church of England yesterday literally and metaphorically. Dr John Sentamu, or Sentamu Ebor, as the new Archbishop of York will sign his name, beat the bongo drums as his wife, Margaret, and two adult children showed a largely white congregation stiff with cold how to warm themselves up by dancing to African songs. Ebor comes from Eboracum, the Roman name for York.
The two-hour installation of the Archbishop at York Minster began with processions, formularies, articles and orderings, with all the pomp and ceremony synonymous with the traditional Church of England. But the arrival of a troupe of bare-chested Ugandan dancers from St Matthews Church in Stratford, East London, sporting ostrich plumes and leopardskin leotards brought a scent of the warm African air of change promised by the Archbishop.
Their Bwola dance of rejoicing and thanksgiving, complete with drums and ululations, warmed the souls of a congregation of 3,000 whose chilly condition was aptly evoked by the Gospel reading from St Matthew, Lord save us, we are perishing. In a bracing sermon, Dr Sentamu began his battle to put fire back into the belly of the established Church.
Members of the Church of England had become consumers of religion and not disciples of Jesus Christ, he said. The vital issue facing Church and nation was the loss of this countrys tradition of Christian wisdom, which brought to birth the English nation.
The Church in England must once again be a beacon by which the people can orient themselves in an unknown ocean by offering them the good news of God in Christ in a practical and relevant way. Having shed an empire and lost a missionary zeal, has this great nation, and mother of parliamentary democracy, also lost a noble vision for the future? We are getting richer and richer as a nation, but less and less happy. The Church must rediscover her self-confidence and self-esteem that united and energised the English people those many centuries ago when the disparate fighting groups embraced the Gospel.
He said that throughout English history the Church had played a socialising and civilising role by uniting the people and conferring nationhood on them. Quoting Michael Ramsey, a former Archbishop of York and Canterbury, he said: Why have we in England turned this glorious Gospel of life in the Spirit into a cumbersome organisation that repels, and whose people are dull and complacent?
Christians should befriend Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, agnostics and atheists, not to convert them but to create understanding. Their missionary zeal should be directed instead at the 72 per cent of the population who in the last census said that they were Christian.
He said that his priority would be to be a watchman for the North and to take a lead by preaching, public address and by informal discussion in sharing the good news. Dr Sentamus appointment, radical and hugely popular, is seen as a sign of hope that the Church could at last be turning the corner after decades of decline.
This is a good thing. African Christians have an amazing spirituality to them, and as beautiful as the Western liturgy is, I don't think many youthful potential-churchgoers have the stomach for anything somber or contemplative.
Sad truth, but if you see the polls, the English don't go to church not so much because they don't believe anything but more because they find it boring. I'm not saying that rehauling the liturgy is a good idea, either. Going to church for entertainment or not going because it's not exciting enough is pathetic. With that said, I was in Ireland and saw how a group of African drummers and dancers could light up a Catholic service like nothing I've seen in a Catholic church.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.