One of the Church of England’s most senior figures faced a tough grilling from, youngsters in Hartlepool.
Archbisop of York Dr John Sentamu was at Hartlepool College of Further Education as part of a series of events called Talking Jesus, which is taking place across the Diocese of Durham over the weekend.
Anglican churches throughout the diocese are holding events which are being supported and attended by Northern bishops.
The Hartlepool event included a presentation by Muslim students from Qatar at the college on their faith and understanding of Jesus, as well as an opportunity for students to ask questions of the Archbishop.
His Grace faced a range of tough theological questions from pupils from several Hartlepool schools aged from years ten to 13.
Topics covered during the hour-long session included the role of women in the church, and specifically why Jesus did not have any female disciples, the discrepancy between Jesus’ humanity and divinity and why God had not sent anyone to Earth after Jesus.
Whenever I go into schools and colleges, the response from young people is just incredible.Dr John Sentamu
Afterwards, the Archbishop mingled with students and staff over refreshments and there was literature for students to take away, including a copy of Mark’s Gospel.
The Archbishop - who is second only to the Archbishop of Canterbury in the hierarchy of the Anglican Church - said he had been delighted with both the turnout at the event and the variety and high standard of the questions from the students.
“Whenever I go into schools and colleges, the response from young people is just incredible,” he said.
“You don’t come to a college of further education and not get tough questions, but they were all very good-hearted.”
Even for an Archbishop, it was good to face probing and difficult questions which tested one’s faith and understanding.
“I am very grateful, really, to get an opportunity like this,” he said.
“There was a whole range of questions.
“I am thrilled that we are being interviewed on our beliefs like this.
“This is pretty fundamental stuff.
“It is good to have your faith tested and questioned, because you might get blasé and think everybody understands.
“Christ, for me, really is the answer to life, because he gives his life for people to come and to be transformed.”