Mid Week Reflection and Prayer – Heroes and Heroines…

This week in our Heroes and Heroines focus, Revd Derek akker looks at the life of Archbishop William Temple.

The source of humility is the habit of realising the presence of God.


William Temple left his mark on mid to late 20th century Anglicanism. He was Bishop of Manchester, Archbishop of York and Archbishop of Canterbury following his father who was Archbishop of Canterbury (1897-1902.) The Guardian wrote of William Temple on the 27th October 1944 ‘. . . for there are few with his gift for leadership and his wise, bold, tolerant and generous mind. Few men have made so great a mark on their age; none has done so much to draw together the spirit of the Church and the spirit of the democracy.’ The former Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath was to remark on the life of William Temple, ‘My Christian faith …. was influenced by the teaching of William Temple. Temple’s impact on my generation was immense. He believed that a fairer society could be built only on moral foundations, with all individuals recognising their duty to help others’.

In his early ministry and during a service at the University Church, Oxford, and the singing of, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” it came to the last verse and he stopped the congregation and

‘asked them to read the words to themselves. “Now,” he said, if you mean them with all your heart, sing them as loud as you can. If you don’t mean them at all, keep silent. If you mean them even a little and want them to mean more, sing them very softly.” The organ played, and two thousand voices whispered: (justus.anglican.com)

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were an offering far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.’

In the early 1940’s he was advocating the provision of healthcare, education, decent housing, proper working conditions, and democratic representation for all. He was concerned that society should recognise the innate dignity of each person and that they are created in the image of God. It should not be a surprise that he had a significant influence on William Beveridge and the subsequent ‘Beveridge Report’ which lead to the establishment of the Welfare State in 1945.

One of William Temple’s great attributes was his ability to communicate the gospel in a way that reinforcers the wholeness of the teaching of Christ. The amazing and divine love alongside the call to serve Christ. He proclaimed the living out of the gospel.

The lasting influence of William Temple can be found today in the work of the William Temple Foundation, based in the Manchester Diocese, which seeks to bring together religious and secular thinkers. They join with clergy, church workers, community activists and policy-makers to address current theological and social issues.


‘When I pray, coincidences happen, and when I don’t, they don’t’.
(William Temple)

So, let us pause, reflect and commemorate the life of William Temple, giving thanks for his life and witness and his commitment to preach the gospel and social justice.

O God of light and love, who illumined your Church through the witness of your servant William Temple: Inspire us, we pray, by his teaching and example, that we may rejoice with courage, confidence, and faith in the Word made flesh, and may be led to establish that city which has justice for its foundation and love for its law; through Jesus Christ, the light of the world, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

A reading from Ephesians (3:7–12)

Of the gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power. Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.

Let us pray for our neighbourhoods giving thanks for its strengths and reaching out to those of you who are in need.
Let us hold before our Lord our family, friends and our neighbours
Let us pray that our church may reflect the sentiments of these words of William Temple
‘The Church is the only society that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members’.

The Lords Prayer – Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.

We join in ‘The Servant Song’ using the YouTube link

Brother, sister, let me serve you;
let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace to
let you be my servant too.

We are pilgrims on a journey,
and companions on the road;
we are here to help each other
walk the mile and bear the load.

I will hold the Christlight for you
in the night-time of your fear;
I will hold my hand out to you,
speak the peace you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping;
when you laugh I’ll laugh with you;
I will share your joy and sorrow,
till we’ve seen this journey through.

When we sing to God in heaven,
we shall find such harmony,
born of all we’ve known together
of Christ’s love and agony.

Brother, sister, let me serve you;
let me be as Christ to you;
pray that l may have the grace to
let you be my servant too.
(Richard A M Gillard)

Derek Akker