In a joint address to the General Synod, Archbishops Justin Welby and Stephen Cottrell said the Church of England must adapt and put its trust in God to become a “simpler, humbler, bolder Church."
The archbishops’ comments came as they addressed the first online sitting of the General Synod following a legal change to enable it to meet remotely amid the coronavirus restrictions.
They outlined how the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout are providing the backdrop to huge social changes - here and around the world.
They also singled out how the Black Lives Matter movement and the publication of the IICSA report on abuse had exposed the Church’s own failings and the need to change.
Archbishop Justin told Synod: “2020 will be a year that registers in memory and in history.
“It can be compared with 1929, with 1914, with 1989.
“We are aware that this is a year in which huge changes are happening in our society and consequently in the Church.
“For let us be clear there is no possibility of changes in society failing to have a profound effect on the shape, calling and experience of mission in the Church.”
Outlining the dramatic events of 2020, he added: “These crises are not signs of the absence of God but calls to recognise the presence of the kingdom and to act in faith and courage, simplifying our life focusing on Jesus Christ, looking outwards to the needy and renewing in our cells our call to wash feet, to serve our society and to be the Church for England.”
Archbishop Stephen went on to outline the work of groups set up to discern how the Church of England might respond and change in light of the recent challenges.
He told Synod: “If we put our trust in God, and if we learn to love one another, then I believe we can become a simpler, humbler, bolder Church, better able to live and share the gospel of Jesus Christ."
Read the Archbishops' remarks.