An Evangelical, Bishop Justin Welby, is Named as Next Archbi
An Evangelical, Bishop Justin Welby, is Named as Next Archbishop of Canterbury
by Dan Wooding, ASSIST News Service
In a surprise move, an Evangelical Anglican has been named as the 105th archbishop of Canterbury, primate of the Church of England and leader of the deeply divided worldwide 77 million-member Anglican Communion.
He is the Rt. Rev Justin Welby, 56, the Bishop of Durham and a former oil executive who has emerged as a critic of corporate excess, who said his appointment was both “astonishing and exciting.”
According to the BBC, he will take on the Church of England's most senior post at a ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral on March 21, 2013, when Bishop Welby will replace Rowan Williams who retires in December after 10 years in the role.
At a press conference at Lambeth Palace in London on Friday, Bishop Welby said it was a time for “optimism and for faith” in the Church.
“His appointment comes as the Church of England faces controversial issues, including a vote in 10 days’ time on ordaining women bishops,” said the BBC.
Bishop Welby said that he was optimistic about the future of the Church. “The Church will certainly get things wrong; I certainly will get things wrong. We will also get much right and do so already,” he said.
John McManus writing for BBC News said, “Justin Welby’s appearance was characterized by one very important quality - his steeliness.
“You could hear it in his voice as he spoke about the challenges facing the Church and what he hoped to bring to the table... He very neatly dodged a question from me about conflict resolution in the Church, but also showed he had a sense of humor, telling journalists the difference between him and [the bearded] Rowan Williams was that he had a better barber - and razor.”
The Most Reverend Rowan Williams, who will return to academia at Cambridge University next year, said he was delighted by the appointment, saying, “I have had the privilege of working closely with him on various occasions and have always been enriched and encouraged by the experience.
“He has an extraordinary range of skills and is a person of grace, patience, wisdom and humor. He will bring to this office both a rich pastoral experience and a keen sense of international priorities, for Church and world.”
Prime Minister David Cameron, who confirmed Bishop Welby's appointment via Twitter, said he “wished him success in his new role.”
Speaking during a visit to Carlisle, Mr. Cameron added that the new archbishop had been the “overwhelming choice” of the panel set up by the prime minister to find a replacement for Dr. Williams.
“I think having someone who had a life outside the Church in business, who understands difficult, complicated issues, will bring a great breath of fresh air to the Church of England,” he said, according to the BBC.
Canon Andrew White, Vicar of St. George’s in Baghdad, Iraq, said, “What do you say when your friend and former colleague, the one who reopened St George's Baghdad with me, is announced as Archbishop of Canterbury? What you say is thank you Lord, thank you Lord!
“Bishop Justin Welby is a great and wonderful man of G-d. I count it as a great privilege to have had him as my closest colleague ever. Working together in some of the most difficult places in the world, from Israel, to Nigeria, to Iraq we have been together. The Anglican Communion is in for a very exciting time.”
Bishop Welby, who has had six children with wife Caroline, was educated at Eton and Cambridge University, and then spent 11 years in the oil industry before studying theology at Durham. He was ordained in 1992.
He became Rector of Southam in 1995 and was later appointed canon residentiary of Coventry Cathedral. He left the area in 2007 when he was appointed Dean of Liverpool.
He took up the post of Bishop of Durham in November 2011 and worked as Dr Williams' special envoy to Africa, attempting to build unity between Christian and Muslim communities in Nigeria.
“Bishop Welby is regarded by observers as being on the evangelical wing of the Church, closely adhering to traditional interpretations of the Bible with a strong emphasis on making the Church outward-looking,” said the BBC. “Even within the evangelical community, however, there are significant differences of outlook on questions of doctrine.”
According to media reports, Welby’s appointment follows weeks of wrangling by members of the Crown Nominations Commission — a panel of four women and 15 men — and a split over whether to choose a “liberal” reformer or a “safe pair of hands” to maintain the status quo in a church that’s divided at home and abroad on matters of gender and sexuality.
From Wikipedia: “The commission meets several times in secret. The commission then forwards two names to the prime minister, who chooses one of them, or (exceptionally) requests additional names from the commission. In recent memory, the only prime minister who has not accepted the commission's preferred candidate was Margaret Thatcher, who opposed James Lawton Thompson’s nomination as Bishop of Birmingham, due to his (perceived) liberal and left-leaning views. Since 2007 the convention has been that the prime minister will choose the first-named recommendation. If the chosen individual accepts the office, the prime minister advises the Sovereign, who then formally nominates the prime minister's choice. Thereafter, the diocese's College of Canons meets to ‘elect’ the new bishop.”
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