Justin Welby new Bishop of Durham

So, Rowan Williams didn't step sideways to Durham, as I hoped he would. Instead the lately-maligned Crown Nominations Commission has made the very interesting choice of Justin Welby, Dean of Liverpool.  I don't know him personally (I did meet him once, when he was an ordinand at Cranmer Hall and I was just a stripling, but it's just possible he won't remember that), but his biography, read carefully, reveals the following:
1. He forged a career in the oil industry before ordination. This is unusual among Bishops, who are mostly cradle clergy. While that too has its advantages, it means they have little direct experience of leadership and management outside the church.
2. He has risen through the ranks of the clergy, as we might expect, but his ministry has been of the hands-on leadership type, not in the backroom bureaucracy or the corridors of power.  His time as the director of Coventry's ministry of reconciliation is a particular highlight in a CV which is is not really done justice by the Diocese of Durham's bigging up of how many people he gets to come to church.
3. Nevertheless, we can see that he is an evangelical who understands the importance of local mission but also works comfortably within inherited church structures.  Always Hope approves of people like that.
4. He has a successful record of leadership, another much under-rated asset in Bishops.
5.  He appears to be quite brainy, which will help.

Good news for the Diocese of Durham, I reckon.  Bishop Welby will be well worth keeping an eye on.

UPDATE: 9th November 2012. Since he is now to be the next Archbishop of Canterbury, I've written a new post by way of an update.


Pam Smith said…
I was a Reader at Coventry Cathedral when Justin was the Director of the Centre for Reconciliation. He's a hardworking and genuinely pastoral person, and wore his role very lightly despite being involved in some fairly hair raising situations when travelling abroad. He's experienced in parish ministry which I do think is quite important when someone is making decisions which affect parishes.

During his spell at Coventry he also gave the best talk I ever heard at a local Reader conference because he talked to us as equals. (Readers get astonishingly talked down to by a lot of clergy.)

I'm not sure if his official biography has pointed out that he was also the chair of a health trust for while before he took on the residentiary role at Coventry.
Unknown said…
I am a cradle-Christian with a former life in business and a fair amount of leadership experience: the two aren't mutually exclusive, Brother :)

A helpful post though, thank you. I went hunting and you were what I found, and gladly so.

One wonders if a 'catholic' will ever find seniority in the CofE again, though. I doubt it.
Charlie said…
You misunderstand, my friend. I said "cradle clergy", those who have devoted their entire working lives to the church, bringing the benefits of vast experience but sometimes lacking the know-how that comes with a bit of time in another sector.

This, of course, does not apply to the Vernacular Curate, who will bring all his experience of whatever industry he worked in to Twickenham.

As to catholics, does that to a certain extent depend on how you define that term? Our new-ish Bishop is at least partly that way inclined. Anyway, these things are quite faddish. At the moment evangelicals are all the rage, but perhaps not for ever.
Mike Dixon said…
As a retired priest in Durham Diocese and a native (Now a County Councillor) we need someone who will stand up against the Establishment at present shacked up in LOndon (Houses of PArliament) 4 words in his CV caused a bit of a shudder-Holy Trinity Brompton, Eton !!
Anonymous said…
As a Catholic within the CofE and a member of the congregation at Liverpool Cathedral, I too shuddered when I saw the words Holy Trinity Bromptom, when Justin's appointment as our sixth Dean was announced four years ago. Today, as I outwardly chuckled at the Pickfords van named "Prince Bishop" parked outside the Deanery, I inwardly mourned the loss of a truely amazing churchman. This Old Etonion scion of HTB is in fact quite "catholic" in outlook,and a quite remarkable churchman.
It is no secret that Liverpool was a somewhat poisoned chalice when he bravely took us on, but in his three and an half years with us, he has transformed us into a welcoming and spiritually active community, working together in a way that would have been impossible in 2007. We now offer theological education courses, cutting edge weekly bible study with regular attendence in three figures, Alpha, an active Asylum seekers support service. His tenure also welcomed (at his personal invitation) a pilgrimage day FROM Walsingham, complete with the statue of Our Lady, over 1300 pilgrims and a youth rock mas, and we now have a regular Vigil Mass as well as a cafe style all age service. Justin took his vision of the Cathedral as the mother church of Liverpool Diocese very seriously, and as a result both of the above services can co-exist quite hapilly.
Whilst we are not far short of devistated by his departure, we have to accept that his appointment has been an inspirational one from the point of view of the wider church. Durham's gain is very definitly our loss.
Nigel said…
I have to laugh when I see people "shudder" at the words Holy Trinity Brompton. The theology of the church is surprisingly catholic in style - which is why so many in the Roman Catholic church have embraced Alpha, and why Roman Catholic preachers visit the church from time-to-time. There would be plenty, more conservative Evangelical, figures who would be far less accessible to someone at Coventry or Liverpool Cathedral than someone coming from Holy Trinity Brompton.

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