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Church News

Archbishop of York goes ahead with large mission event, says we shouldn't give into coronavirus fears

by Tola Mbakwe

The Archbishop of York has encouraged Christians to not be afraid during the coronavirus outbreak and instead use it as an opportunity to evangelise. 

As people become wary of having mass gatherings, the Diocese of York went ahead with its 'Come and See' mission event this week. 

Thirty bishops and their teams from the north of the country gathered for series of social and evangelistic activities.   

Dr John Sentamu told Premier: "The worst thing that happens to most of us on things we don't understand like coronavirus, is fear but we're told in the book of John that perfect love casts out all fear. 

"The message we're trying to say to people is God and Jesus loves you. [When] you get to know him, you begin to love your neighbour in a fantastic way. 

"And when you begin to love your neighbour, you can tell other people about the love of God, and therefore they need not be afraid. I mean, we've got to do everything we can so that we don't spread it [coronavirus] to other people. But the truth is this fear terrifies everybody. Don't be afraid."

The annual event is the last one under Dr Sentamu's leadership as he will be retiring in the summer. 

Rt Rev Philip North, Bishop of Burnley told Premier he looks forward to moments with the archbishop and said he feels like the mission events sets him free from the norm of his day to day work.  

"You can so often get stuck in a meeting room behind a desk when you're a bishop," he said. 

"These weekends we're kind of set free to go into schools and community groups and just walk the streets, engaging people in conversation and it just makes you feel very, very alive."

The bishop said he was looking forward to reaching out to the community in East Hull. 

"It's mostly large social housing estates," he said. 

"It's a place where it's a hard place to be the church and quite small, fragile churches, but incredibly lovely people.

"It's a place where the church is punching massively above its weight in terms of the way it's reaching out in service to its community. So our encouragement is going to add a bit of gospel proclamation to that lovely, rich, generous service."

The four-day event ends on Sunday.

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