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Posts Tagged "John Sentamu":

Candidates for Cantuar : John Sentamu

What to say about the Archbishop of York? I did consider leaving him out of this series altogether, on the grounds that he is so well-known, but decided instead to write in a more interpretative way than for the other candidates.

I took a quick straw poll at the hairdresser’s this morning: everyone, whether or not they were Christian, had heard of The Most Revd and Rt Hon Dr John Tucker Mugabi Sentamu, although they did not necessarily know much about him – other than that he had cut up his dog collar on television and spent the night in a tent in his cathedral. So what are the known facts?

John Sentamu was born on 10 June 1949 near Kampala in what was then the kingdom of Buganda. The sixth of thirteen children of a church primary school headmaster, he studied law at Makerere University, which educates the intellectual elite of East Africa. He is as proud of his membership of the Buffalo Clan as a Scotsman would be of his. He married his wife Margaret in 1973 and they have four adult children, two of whom are foster children.


He practised as a lawyer at the Ugandan High Court until 1974, when he fell foul of Idi Amin and spent 90 days in jail. On release, he sought refuge in Britain, where he studied theology at Selwyn College, Cambridge, obtaining a doctorate in 1984. According to Wikipedia, he was baptised at Eden Baptist Church, Cambridge, but then trained for the priesthood at Ridley Hall. He was ordained in 1979 and Crockford‘s crams the next 17 years into:

Chapl HM Rem Cen Latchmere Ho 79-82; C Ham St AndrS’wark 79-82; C Herne Hill St Paul 82-83; P-in-c Tulse Hill H Trin 83-84; V Upper Tulse Hill St Matthias 83-84; V Tulse Hill H Trin and St Matthias 85-96; P-in-c Brixton Hill St Sav 87-89; Hon Can S’wark Cathl 93-96;

In 1996 he was consecrated Bishop of Stepney, then served as Bishop of Birmingham from 2002 until his translation to York in 2005.


Archbishop John has (at least) the following books in print:

ROOTS AND WINGS – Report of the Black Anglican Celebration for the Decade of Evangelism by The Rev. Canon Dr John Sentamu (Paperback – 1994)

 The Money Revolution: Applying Christian Principles to Handling Your Money by John Sentamu and John Preston (Paperback – 1 Sep 2007)


The wikipedia entry says:

Sentamu is a traditionalist within the Church of England, generally supporting socially conservative moral positions, publicly criticising multiculturalism and LGBT rights.


Leap in the dark assessment

Unlike the two other candidates we have looked at so far, most people I think feel that they know Archbishop John quite well. Such is the nature of media coverage and the fame which results. Of course, we need to repeat the caveat that the picture we have of him is a two-dimensional one unless we know him personally.

A man of great charm

This short video goes some way to explain why Archbishop John is so well-liked in the country generally, by people who do not necessarily have anything to do with the Church.


A catherine wheel

Arcbishop John is a catherine wheel rocket of a man. Let me elaborate. He  rocketed from birth in a Ugandan village to the archbishopric of York in 56 years. Don’t you find that amazing? It has been said that he has been subject to racial discrimination in his career, but if that is so what would his career have been like without it? I would find it more understandable if he had initially faced difficulties on the grounds that he was not British-born, but it would seem that this has not held him back either.


Il a les défauts de ses qualités

Colin Slee and others have accused him of being a bully.  It is the obverse of being a catherine wheel. People do generally have the faults associated with their good qualities, as the French point out, and it is not surprising that someone dynamic, energetic, determined and rumbustious enough to have achieved all that the Archbishop has achieved in such a short space of time should inflict a little collateral damage along the way.


Personal parallel

John Sentamu reminds me more than anyone of my father. Like him, my father whooshed to the top (of the diplomatic service). At his best, he could hold a group of people in rapt attention as he entertained and charmed them. The more distant they were from him, the more they were taken by his brilliance and charisma. Those nearest and dearest did appreciate those qualities, but they also had to bear the brunt of a man quick to anger, who brooked no opposition and had a whim of iron.


Next Archbishop of Canterbury?

His Pied Piper qualities would stand him in good stead and  John Sentamu would undoubtedly bring people into church.. On the other hand, the clergy might be in for a rough ride and there is no indication that he sees any need to advance the role of the laity any time soon. Like Margaret Thatcher, he is less keen on consensus than conviction. A turbulent, if exciting, priest.

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