'The Joy of the Gospel' was the theme of an ecumenical celebration at Durham Cathedral on Sunday 6 September.
The service took the form of a joint public dialogue between Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP and Archbishop John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, who discussed the topics of prayer, peace and the poor. Among the other church leaders present were Bishop Séamus Cunningham of Hexham and Newcastle, and Bishop Paul Butler of Durham
The service was inspired by the meeting between Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the publication of the Pope's Apostolic Exhortation 'Evangelii Gaudium', and was themed around mission and the importance of evangelisation for the future of the Christian Churches. Members of the congregation were given a specially commissioned card and invited to present it to a neighbour, friend or family member to invite them to explore the life of faith. At the end of the service Bishop Cunningham and Bishop Butler led a commissioning for all to go out and spread the Good News.
Archbishop Malcolm said, "It is a powerful witness that Catholics, Anglicans and other Christians gathered together in Durham Cathedral to dedicate themselves to the Church’s mission. All Christians are called to be evangelisers, to proclaim Jesus Christ in words and action. Just as this magnificent Cathedral speaks to us of the presence of Christ in our world, I hope that this service will help us to recommit ourselves to be that presence, bringing his Gospel of joy, mercy and peace to those whom we meet."
Archbishop Sentamu reflected on the mission of the saints of the north-east, "next to worship, witness is the primary and urgent task of the Church of God. Making disciples and making Christ known to others is at the heart of our shared Christian faith. Like the great northern saints, Paulinus, Aidan, Cuthbert, Hilda, Cedd and Chad, let us continue to be inspired and encouraged to live out the joy of the Gospel, and share it with others."