Justin Welby takes up his role as Archbishop of Canterbury

By staff writers
February 4, 2013

The current Bishop of Durham, Justin Welby is being confirmed as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury in a legal ceremony at St Paul's Cathedral today.

He replaces Dr Rowan Williams (now Lord Williams of Oystermouth), who stepped down on 31 December 2012 to become Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, and chair of Christian Aid - having held the position of senior Archbishop for ten years.

The office of archbishop is conferred on Justin Welby, terminating his role as Bishop of Durham, in an arcane ceremony known as the Confirmation of Election. He then starts work in the post. His enthronement as archbishop takes place at Canterbury Cathedral on 21 March 2013.

The appointment of Justin Welby to the most senior post in the established Church of England was announced in November 2012.

He was a surprise appointment for many. Coming from the charismatic and evangelical wing of the church, he is regarded as personable, media-savvy and astute, with considerable diplomatic skills and experience of senior management in business. His rise within the Church has been described as 'meteoric'.

Archbishop Welby takes the reins of a Church racked with divisions over sexuality and authority. He favours women bishops, but takes a conservative view on same-sex marriage - although he has condemned homophobia and has said he is definitely willing to talk to those who differ on this issue.

On the eve of the Commons vote on marriage equality, Archbishop Welby is expected to make a statement saying that marriage should remain between a man and a woman. The style and tenor of his remarks, as much as the content (which will be no surprise), will be watched and listened to carefully.

The new archbishop also has skills in handling conflict, which are likely to be put to the test in an argumentative Church of England, say commentators.

Intriguingly, at Bishop Welby's first address to his diocesan synod in Durham he said he believed in "holy anarchy".

"It is anarchy within an organisation, a sense of diversity, of freedom, and empowering that must move us away from a top-down, centralising, managerial approach that is the curse of the Church of England," he declared.

The fact that he comes to Canterbury after only a short time within Church of England structures may enable him to change the "tribal and dysfunctional" culture which one insider says is a major obstacle to positive change.

* Ekklesia co-director Simon Barrow is commenting on the appointment for BBC Radio 5 Live and other outlets this morning.

* 'What kind of leader will Archbishop Welby be?', by Simon Barrow: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/17927

* 'Welfare: Archbishop should seek justice, not charity', by Bernadette Meaden: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/17920

* More on Justin Welby from Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/justinwelby

* Profile of Welby by the BBC's Robert Piggott: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21317752


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