Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The New Archbishop of Canterbury: Justin Welby

With all the shock and surprise of Benedict XVI's renunciation of the Papacy and Pope Francis' election to the Papacy, I have quite overlooked the installation of the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. The American Spectator describes his background in this article and touches on some surprising facts:

This is why Archbishop Welby looks so interesting: He is an authentic Anglican evangelical, homegrown from the 21st century’s most successful outreach movement, known as HTB-Alpha. It began 30 years ago at Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) in West London, the mega-church that welcomed Welby at a dark time in his life, when he and his wife were devastated by the loss of their first born child, 7-month-old Johanna, killed in a Paris car accident.

“It is in our pain and in our brokenness that we come the closest to Christ,” said Martin Luther. His words have a resonance with Archbishop Welby’s spiritual journey. At the time of his daughter’s death, he was a rising star in the oil industry, finance director and treasurer of the FTSE 100 company Enterprise Oil. He loved the buzz of acquisitions and mergers. But as he nursed his wounds in bereavement, Welby heard God’s call. A talk at HTB by one of the leaders of the U.S. Vineyard Churches, John McClure, inspired him to seek training for ordination. This was not an easy path, for his local bishop rejected Welby as a candidate, saying he had “no future in the Church of England.” But the influential vicar of HTB, the Rev. Sandy Millar, persuaded his parishioner to keep knocking on the door of the ordained ministry, and eventually Welby was accepted for training at St. John’s College, Durham. . . .

ARCHBISHOP WELBY is proud of his HTB roots, but he should not be simplistically pigeonholed. He has a Catholic spiritual director. He spent some years working in Nigeria, which has given him an understanding of the African provinces in the Anglican Communion. They are ultra-conservative in comparison to many liberal American and English churches, and Welby will need to work hard to prevent quarrels and schisms within his international flock. Fortunately he seems well-equipped for this and for the even greater challenges that lie ahead of him.

He also has a background in business, having had a secular career before becoming an Anglican minister and bishop. Justin Welby certainly does face a great many challenges trying to hold the Anglican Communion and the Church of England together. It is interesting to note that the Archbishop of Canterbury is "enthroned":

First, the Archbishop will be installed on the Diocesan throne as the Bishop of the see of Canterbury, the oldest diocese in the English church. He will then be installed on the chair of St Augustine as Primate of All England – the ‘first bishop’ in the country. This latter enthronement has also come to respresent the Archbishop's inauguration as the spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

And, according to that same page, it's interesting to note the date chosen for Justin Welby's enthronement:

The date of the ceremony resonates in several ways: March 21st is the day when the church remembers the martyrdom of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1556. It is also the feast day of St. Benedict of Monte Cassino, a significant figure for both Canterbury Cathedral and Archbishop Justin himself, who is an oblate of the Order of Benedict.

Pope Francis sent him a message and the Archbishop commented on Pope Francis' installation as Pope.

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