David Porter, Archbishop Welby's Director for Reconciliation at Lambeth Palace, reflects on his journey into the ministry of reconciliation.
Porter describes himself as a "convinced Anabaptist" with an Irish Presbyterian upbringing. He continues to serve part time at Coventry Cathedral as well as at Lambeth Palace. He says his first job will be to "the ongoing conflicts within the church over deeply held differences" and he connects this with the bigger task of calling the church to live as peacemakers.
++Justin was one of many Anglican friends who warmly brought me in to their circle in a job in which I have found much fulfilment and fun in serving God and the church. Dean John Irvine and the Residentiary Canons at Coventry went out of their way to make me part of the team and bring my Anabaptist convictions and pragmatic approach to this opportunity for ministry. Now that role is to be developed. While an initial focus will be on the ongoing conflicts within the church over deeply held differences, the ultimate aim is to look out to a world torn apart by violent conflicts, and enable the church to live as the children of God, peacemakers. The challenges that lie ahead are certainly daunting. One thing is certain, I will get many things wrong. Yet I can’t help but sense that God is in this journey as he was in the journey I took just over 35 years ago when my life in Christian ministry began. Between my Irish Presbyterian upbringing and emerging from theological college a convinced Anabaptist, there was a sojourn of deep significance which changed me more than anything in my life, apart from my journey in partnership with my wife. I lived in Lahore, Pakistan, working with BMMF at St Andrew’s Church an old railway workers’ church with an English speaking congregation. Part of the Church of Pakistan it was Anglican in practice and it was here I preached my first sermon, wearing a cassock! Rev Sid Iggledun, a CMS missionary from Sydney was my mentor and responsible, along with Jim Tebbe from the US, for my returning to the UK to study theology. A friend from that time Irfan Jamil is now the Bishop of Lahore. At each stage of transition in my ministry there have been significant people who have been God’s gift to me in opening avenues of service and growth in faith. During lent I want to think on them, giving thanks, maybe finding time to write a blog or two on some of them. ++Justin is the latest in this lineage of friends in Christ who have seen something that I really don’t fully recognise and opened a path to grow in faith and continue in service. That they have been there at all gives me some hope that what lies ahead is of God, despite all that may tempt me to think otherwise in the days and months ahead.