At the end of October, the Archbishop of Canterbury made an official visit to the Diocese of Rochester. During his time in the diocese he led a service at the Cathedral entitled ‘Setting the Captives Free’, a time for prayer, reflection, and commissioning in response to Modern Slavery.
The service was a time to stop and reflect after a busy season for those fighting to end modern slavery in the Diocese of Rochester. The volunteers have been through a series of trainings, including a large scale conference in June and a Train to the Trainer session led by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority in October. All the volunteers have committed to spreading the word about modern slavery in their local area, a vital part of the effort to stop modern slavery.
Those attending the service sang together hymns of praise including The Spirit Lives to Set Us Free, Faithful, and Amazing Grace, the well-known hymn written by John Newton, once a captain of slave ships and later a prominent abolitionist.
As well as Archbishop Justin Welby, the speakers included Lys Ford from the GLAA and Caroline Clarke, the Diocesan Community Engagement and Social Responsibility Advisor, who leads on modern slavery for the Diocese of Rochester.
The service culminated in the Archbishop commissioning the group of anti-slavery volunteers, anointing them with oil and praying for their mission.
Michele Amos, one of the volunteers, said she found the service the Archbishop’s sermon “incredibly inspiring.”
“It was encouraging to see so many people interested in finding out more about modern slavery. The first reading about Joseph’s enslavement was particularly poignant for me. Thousands of years later people are still being manipulated and coerced into slavery, but the service filled me with even more energy and motivation to raise awareness of this crime that has been unseen by the majority for the last two hundred years.”
Archbishop Justin Welby ended the service with this prayer:
Lord of creation,
we thank you for all who are working to combat modern slavery;
for governments and agencies,
for Church and other faith leaders,
for charities and individuals,
and for these volunteers commissioned to work in this Diocese.
Help us all to be part of love’s movement,
to work for a world where human beings are valued,
free to come and go, where no one is enslaved,
no one used against their will for another’s pleasure or need.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.
The full text of the service is available here.