Friday, November 9, 2012

Justin Welby: 105th Archbishop of Canterbury

Last year when Justin Welby was appointed to Durham, I posted a short reaction on this blog. It turned out to be one of my most popular efforts, presumably due to the number of people googling his name, so by way of an update, it is now time to congratulate him (if that is the right word) on being named as the next Archbishop of Canterbury.

(read the original post here).

Incidentally, at the same time, another blogger predicted that this would happen: tip your hats to the mad black sheep of Anglican blogging, Jonathan Hagger of Of Course, I Could Be Wrong. Not this time.

There doesn't seem much to add to what I wrote last year (which still seems a good assessment to me).  We know that he has demonstrated management and leadership skills in his brief tenure at Durham.  A year isn't long enough to test his success in this area, but an Archbishop with a strategy for the church may come as a rude shock to the institutions of Church House and Lambeth Palace, who have become accustomed to running the Church of England as they please, without any tiresome interference from above, in the manner of Sir Humphrey to Jim Hacker.

We know that he is what we must call a "conservative" on same-sex marriage. This will upset many of the more liberal wing of the Church, but intriguingly, we also know that liberal attack-dog Giles Fraser thinks he is a good bloke. Is this an early sign that Justin has the knack of leadership by consensus that Rowan, despite his many and huge gifts, was never quite able to pull off? Let's hope so.

And we know from various speeches and his appointment to the Parliamentary panel examining the ethics of banking, that he is literate in the language of finance and economics. The Crown Nominations Commission has given us an Archbishop who can speak about the most crucial political question of the day. Perhaps they did know what they were doing after all. Or at least, as somebody once said, "the fools have chosen the right man".

I don't know much, but it seems a good appointment to me. What I do know is that he'll need all the support he can get. You have our prayers, [nearly] Archbishop.


Ray Barnes said...

I know little of this man apart from what I have read, but, like you, hope that time will show him to have been a good choice,

My 'flavour of choice' is not the evangelical, but as a newish Christian am always ready to be convinced.

One thing is certain. He will need our prayers.

Suem said...

I am going to wait and see. It could be worse though, it could be worse.

Charlie Peer said...

A bit ungracious, Sue? Next you'll be publishing photos of him with a Turnip for a head.

Simon said...

Good to see you back blogging, Charlie. I hope the new job has started well.
Peter Carrell at also had +Justin as his 'dark horse' candidate, way back in March.
Prayers from a far distant province for the ABC elect and his family.

Peter Denshaw said...

Well said... I think in some ways this post ties in with your next post, in that there is something curious about the manner in which religion tends to take on more of the structures and systems of its host society. We live in a highly bureaucratic and differentiated society where various and complex agencies have taken on more and more of what was once the lot of the individual, family, local community and the parish. Marx Weber made some rather grim predictions about the future of modern societies, that is they would become more and more subject to the rule of law and the bureaucrat while traditional and charismatic authority would vanish – except in the case of the latter, only emerging at times of social crisis (Churchill during WWII being a prime example). Hence it is no surprise that Justin Welby has been picked as the new ABC – his experience in the corporate world will no doubt come in useful in a multi-national such as the Anglican communion. What that means in the long run who can say?

Yet I think sometimes we just can’t be too analytical about such issues. Perhaps we just have to trust he is the right choice. Over the summer I met up with a close friend who was on the staff of ABC Cary and ABC Williams – I made some quip about ++Williams being glad to be rid of the job. My friend said Rowan doesn’t think like that – to him it was just part of his vocation. I think we just have to accept that Welby probably sees his role in a similar manner. And let’s be honest, few of us would wish the job on our worst enemy!

Charlie Peer said...

Hi Peter. I haven't read Weber but I guess he was right up to a point, but made the mistake of thinking that the "bureaucrat" mindset would prevail for ever. I think we are seeing a societal shift away from top-down structural solutions. My take would be that Welby, with a business background, is well-placed to lead us in that situation, because he knows how to react to "market" changes, and not to cling to outdated ways of doing business.