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Don't let suffering 'slip from our minds', Archbishop urges

The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged people not to let the Ebola crisis or war in areas such as South Sudan "slip from our minds" in his New Year message.

The Most Rev Justin Welby, who was diagnosed with pneumonia after being forced to pull out of his Christmas Day sermon at Canterbury Cathedral, issued the message from the National Memorial Arboretum.

Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby. Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

He praised the "extraordinary dedication" of the British military in Sierra Leone, one of the three west African countries worst affected by the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.

He also spoke of his "unspeakable gratitude" to servicemen and women following the end of the war in Afghanistan.

A message for Christmas: The Archbishop's address

The Archbishop of Canterbury Credit: itv news

The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Rev Justin Welby, was due to give his Christmas Day message today, but had to cancel due to illness.

The full text of the Archbishop's address has been published on www.archbishopofcanterbury.org, Lambeth Palace said.

He had been due to talk about how the true spirit of Christmas cannot be captured in fairytale endings, using the example of the First World War Christmas truce in 1914.

The Archbishop had been due to say: "The truce illustrates something of the heart of Christmas, whereby God sends his Son, that vulnerable sign of peace, to a weary war-torn world.

"The problem is that the way it is told now it seems to end with a 'happy ever after'.

"Of course we like Christmas stories with happy endings: singing carols, swapping photos, shaking hands, sharing chocolate, but the following day the war continued with the same severity.

"Nothing had changed; it was a one-day wonder. That is not the world in which we live, truces are rare."

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Dean of Canterbury steps in after Archbishop's illness

The Archbishop of Canterbury will not deliver his Christmas Day sermon because of illness.

Lambeth Palace said the Most Rev Justin Welby has been suffering from a "severe cold" for several days and decided this morning that he was too unwell to speak at the annual Canterbury Cathedral service.

A Lambeth Palace spokesman said: "The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, is suffering from a severe cold and will, with great regret, no longer be preaching the sermon at Canterbury Cathedral this morning.

"The Dean of Canterbury, the Very Rev Robert Willis, will deliver a homily."

Archbishop of Canterbury opens up about his memories of Christmas

Don't let the pressure of a perfect Christmas ruin your day.

It's perhaps what you expect the Archbishop of Canterbury to say, but Justin Welby is talking from personal experience.

Growing up, Christmas time was memorable for all the wrong reasons. It's just one of the things he spoke to Sangeeta about when she met the spiritual leader of the Church of England at Canterbury Cathedral.

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What about this for a view! Repair man climbs to the top of the country's tallest cathedral

HIs heart was in his mouth and the adrenalin was pumping. Those are the words of the man who had to climb to the top of the country's tallest cathedral spire in Salisbury to repair a weather meter. Gary Price says the worst moment was when he had to step outside a small window near the base of the spire for the final climb to the summit. Pictures from Salisbury Cathedral. Penny Silvester reports.

A festive Christmas message from Winchester

The Right Reverend Tim Dakin Credit: Diocese of Winchester
The Right Reverend Tim Dakin, The Right Reverend Jonathan Frost, Bishop of Southampton and the Right Reverend David Williams, Bishop of Basingstoke Credit: Diocese of Winchester

Celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, we remember that he is the light who brings us out of darkness. As it says in Isaiah: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined” (Isaiah 9:2).

We celebrate Christmas just after the shortest day in the year, at a time when light begins to re-enter the world, taking us out of the darkest days of winter. The coming of light is a sign of hope, and reflects that hope which Jesus brings to our world. St John says in his Gospel that Jesus “gives life to the world” (John 6:33) through his birth. In amongst the hustle and bustle of preparations for Christmas, we might ask ourselves, how do we bring light and hope to our communities?

Over the past year, people in parishes across Hampshire and Dorset have been thinking about their answers to this question, as we seek to nurture the mission taking place within our communities in Winchester Diocese. Living the mission of Jesus may sound like an impossible challenge, but put simply, it means that we aim to live out our Christian faith by becoming agents of social transformation in our local communities and working for their benefit.

This year we became the first Diocese in the country to appoint an Archdeacon for Mission Development, a senior priest who is supporting our work in this area. We’re proud that recent figures from the national Church showed that over 2,700 volunteers from our churches are supporting children, young people and families across Hampshire and East Dorset, a figure which represents nearly 1,000 more volunteers than the national average. However, we want to grow this work further, and next year we will be looking to explore even more ways in which we can offer support to local people.

In doing this I hope that we too will “give life to the world”, seeking, like Jesus, to be beacons of hope for our local communities. As we celebrate the birth of Jesus this month, my thoughts and prayers will be for all who strive to make a positive difference to their local communities, especially here in Winchester Diocese.

I wish you all a truly happy Christmas and New Year.

– The Right Reverend Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winchester

New chaplain for football team

Havant and Waterlooville FC manager Lee Bradbury with Rev Andy Wilson Credit: Portsmouth Diocese

Reverend Andy Wilson has become Havant and Waterlooville Football Club's new chaplain.

The vicar from Portsmouth's Anglican diocese will offer spiritual support to people of all faiths and those of no faith.

"I will be there to listen and offer support to anyone at the club who wants it. It is an exciting role for me to take on and I'm looking forward to getting to know the players and staff"

– Rev Andy Wilson

First Christmas concert by cathedral's all-girls choir

Canterbury Cathedral's all-girls choir

Tonight for the first time in its history, a girls choir will perform a Christmas Concert at Canterbury Cathedral.

The formation of the all girl choir in January ended a one-thousand year tradition of all male choristry at the Cathedral.

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