Stuart Pearce and Archbishop at sports ministry conference

Bishop Tony Porter joined Stuart Pearce and the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace for an event to highlight and support Christian ministry through sport.

Delegates from every diocese in the Southern Province attended the day-long conference to share best practice about evangelism in sport. They were welcomed by Archbishop Justin Welby, who thanked them and encouraged them to continue with their work.

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Bishop Tony Porter with Stuart Pearce and delegates.

Bishop Tony, who is the Bishop of Sherwood in the Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham, and was last year commissioned as the Archbishops’ Sport Ambassador, said: “It was an amazing day, we had a great response from across the dioceses.

“People of all ages in this country love sport, so as a church if we want to meet people where they are, sport is the natural context. People who love sport are passionate and committed; they are open to the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ if shared in appropriate language and context.

“I know because on my 20th birthday I responded to the Gospel, in a sporting context, as soon as I read the Gospels. Whether it rejects or accepts the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the world of sport has a right to hear it.”

Graham Daniels, General Director of Christians in Sport, told the story of that organisation’s development, and

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Bishop Tony with Archbishop Justin Welby.

then stories of growth and good practice were heard as a group of the delegates took part in a question and answer session with Nigel Spraggins, Chief Executive of Southwell & Nottingham, who had accompanied Bishop Tony to the conference.

After lunch the delegates met Stuart Pearce, who had been invited by Bishop Tony – the two worked closely together when Stuart was the manager at Manchester City and Bishop Tony the club chaplain.

Bishop Tony asked Stuart, who has 78 England Caps, about the life of a professional footballer.

“He gave us insights into professional football and underlined how much he valued club chaplains, especially the confidentiality they offered to players and staff who wanted to discuss personal issues,” said Bishop Tony.