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New Archbishop of Canterbury baptises granddaughter at Holy Trinity Aldershot

Date: 03 March 2013
The New Archbishop of Canterbury paid a private visit to the Diocese of Guildford this weekend (March 3) to baptise his baby granddaughter Charlotte at Holy Trinity Church, Aldershot.

Charlotte - who remained unfazed by the occasion - is the daughter of Justin's son Tim and his wife Rachel, who are members of Holy Trinity's congregation.

Vicar the Revd George Newton said it had been a relaxed, celebratory occasion and that the congregation of 250 had warmed to the Archbishop's down to earth approach and sense of humour.

He said: "The date had been booked before Justin's appointment so it was great that he could still be with us.It was a very positive, affirming service for us, nothing too formal.

"He met with the leaders of our African and Nepalese congregations and signed some New Testaments. It was encouraging to see some non-churchgoers go along to listen to him too. I think everyone responded well to his grounded approach."

For his part the Archbishop also seemed at ease and commented on how good it was not to be talking about banking scandals.

Diocesan secretary Stephen Marriott, who was at the service, said: "He was clearly comfortable in the unfamiliar surroundings. He started the baptism with a deprecating comment: 'I have not done one of these for a while – it goes something like …if anyone knows any just cause and impediment….?'.

"The sermon, which was on the story of Zacchaeus or 'Zac' as the Archbishop referred to him, began with a clear statement of his belief that the Church will grow.

"As well as talking about Zac and making many links to Charlotte’s baptism, Justin introduced the earlier story of the rich young ruler who was a good man (unlike Zac who was a tax gatherer working on behalf of the Romans) and who had approached Jesus but had gone away saddened.

"He had not responded to Jesus as God, whereas Zac had responded. Justin noted he had some fellow feeling for the short Zacchaeus, being not tall himself, and explained something about how he became a Christian.

"He had heard a Ugandan Bishop speaking of his faith and the suffering and danger of being a Christian in Uganda while it was ruled by Idi Amin. Justin noted the parallel with the current Archbishop of York who had escaped from jail and crossed the border to safety with soldiers just a mile behind him and how he had arrived in Britain penniless and having to start a new life.

"Jesus, Justin emphasised, was interested in the outsider, not the religious rulers (would that be bishops now? he queried) and said: 'So if you are normal – not specially religious – not even a good person – Jesus knows you by name, just as he knew Zacchaeus by name'."

The Welby family celebrated Charlotte's baptism with lunch at the vicarage after the service.

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