Canon Professor Michael Clarke was recently presented with The Canterbury Cross by the Archbishop of Canterbury in recognition of his service to the Church of England over many years. He was one of 30 Christians honoured by Archbishop Justin in the 2018 Lambeth Awards, which are given to people from across the Church who have given extraordinary service in fields including conflict resolution, education, worship, journalism and evangelism.

Michael said: “I am overwhelmed by being awarded this honour: it came completely out of the blue. The presentation was in the Great Hall of Lambeth Palace, a wonderful, mediaeval riverside building,in part of which the Archbishop of Canterbury lives when in London.The afternoon was a lovely mix of formal and informal. After receiving our honours from the Archbishop, everyone relaxed over tea and cakes, and generally enjoyed talking to the other people there.They represented the Anglican Communion from all over the world as well as the United Kingdom; most of them looked “ordinary” but their citations told otherwise. The weather was perfect, so most of us wandered in the beautiful Palace garden with its Spring blossom, before gathering again for Evening Prayer in the Chapel. It was altogether a wonderful day, made for memories!"

The Lambeth Awards, launched by Archbishop Justin Welby in 2016, recognise outstanding service in different fields, including those of the Archbishop’s ministry priorities of prayer and the Religious life; reconciliation and peacebuilding; and evangelism and witness. Christians from Africa, the Far East and the UK are among the recipients of this year’s awards.

Speaking at the ceremony, the Archbishop said he wished to express the thanks of the Church and the wider community for the recipients’ outstanding contributions in their fields. He added that he hoped the world at large will “see what these people have done and understand that, in their different fields, they show forth values which are our values, Gospel values of love for humanity, reconciliation and selfless service; and, more widely, values common to all people of good will.”

Michael’s award citation:

Canon Professor Michael Gilbert Clarke – The Canterbury Cross for Services to the Church of England, for outstanding service to church and society over many years.

Michael Clarke has given outstanding service to the Church and society in many areas over the years. Nationally, he has served the Church from 1990 to 1993 and from 1995 to date on General Synod, where he has been an exemplary chair of many tricky and complex debates, including that on the Revision Stage of the draft Women in the Episcopate Measure in July 2010, the order paper for which ran to 37 pages, surely a record. The bewildering kaleidoscope of amendments made it quite unclear what the outcome might be. Michael chaired the sometimes impassioned debate with consummate skill, articulating succinctly the effect that each amendment was intended to achieve, so that members could vote with understanding and confidence. More importantly, perhaps, he set the tone of the debate with a lightness of touch and even an element of humour. He has served on the Dioceses Commission from 2008, as Chair from 2010, in which capacity he steered the process which led to the formation of the new Diocese of Leeds in 2014. This required a huge commitment of time, energy, wisdom and skill and a profound grasp of the needs of the church and its mission.

He served on the Council of the Queens’s Foundation for Theological Education, Birmingham, from 2005 to 2011. He was one of the first lay members of Chapter at Worcester Cathedral, from 2001 to 2010 and now chairs the Cathedral Council. He is also the Worcester Chair of the Three Choirs Festival which attracts visitors from all over the world to the city and the cathedral. Beyond the Church, he has just completed ten years as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Birmingham Royal Ballet.