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Posts Tagged "Candidate for Archbishop of Canterbury":

Candidates for Cantuar: Graham Kings


 The Bishop of Sherborne looks a very jolly prelate, radiating bonhomie in every direction. In fact I am tempted to commission a Toby jug of him, so representative is he to look at of a certain type of John Bull Englishman, if not of Falstaffian proportions. But if you look below the surface, even in a necessarily superficial piece such as this, it is apparent that Bishop Graham is both a more complex, and perhaps a less jolly, character than this would indicate.

Graham’s wife, Alison is a psychotherapist, and Hon Sec of the Guild of Psychotherapists in London.


Graham Kings  was born on 10 October 1953  in Barkingside, Essex on the eastern outskirts of London.  He was educated at Buckhurst Hill County High School and then spent a ‘gap year’ as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 5th Inniskilling Dragoon Guards on a short service commission at   Sandhurst. Bishop Graham then studied theology at Hertford College, Oxford, followed by Selwyn College, Cambridge and he studied for a PhD from the University of Utrecht.


He trained for the priesthood at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. Following ordination he served as a curate in Harlesden for four years until, in 1985, he moved to Kenya as a Church Mission Society (CMS) mission partner to teach theology at St Andrew’s College, Kabare (in the foothills of Mount Kenya). In 1992 he returned to Cambridge to become the founding Director of the Henry Martyn Centre for the study of mission and world Christianity and affiliated Lecturer in the Faculty of Divinity of the University.

Dr Kings became vicar of St Mary’s Islington in 2000 where, according to his admiring Boswell on the diocesan website, he quickly made his mark as a forward thinking, innovative teacher and pastor. Crockford’s more prosaically has:

* +KINGS, The Rt Revd Graham Ralph. b 53. Hertf Coll Ox BA77 MA80 Utrecht Univ PhD02. Ridley Hall Cam 78. d 80 p81 c 09. C Harlesden St Mark Lon 80-84; CMS Kenya Rest of the World 85-91; Dir Studies St Andr Inst Kabare 85-88; Vice Prin 89-91; Lect Miss Studies Cam Th Federation 92-00; Overseas Adv Henry Martyn Trust 92-95; Dir Henry Martyn Cen Westmr Coll Cam 95-00; Hon C Cambridge H Trin Ely 92-96; Hon C Chesterton St Andr 96-00; V Islington St MaryLon 00-09; Area Bp Sherborne Sarum from 09; Can and Preb Sarum Cathl from 09. 


He also served with the Bishop of Salisbury on the Liturgical Commission and the Mission Theological Advisory Group of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion Network for Inter-Faith Concerns.

He has a developed media awareness, as evidenced by the summer he led a camel called Cleo from Oxford to Selwyn College Cambridge in an imaginative ploy for the CMS to raise money for education in Kenya.


Amazon shows two books currently in print, Signs and Seasons: A Guide for your Christian Journey (2008) and Offerings from Kenya to Anglicanism: Liturgical Texts and Contexts (2001).

In 2003, Kings co-founded Fulcrum, the online evangelical Anglican journal, and is its theological secretary. The aim of Fulcrum was to “renew the evangelical centre of the Church of England”. Dr Kings, as he then was, has commented on the creation of personal ordinariates for disaffected traditionalist Anglicans entering the Catholic Church.



When Salisbury diocese voted on the Anglican Covenant (which it rejected), one bishop voted in favour of the Covenant, and one against it. As Bishop Nick Holtam is known to be against the Covenant, it seems a reasonable presumption that Bishop Graham voted in favour.  He had written on the need for Anglicans to be homogeneous like grapes, rather than heterogeneous like marbles.


Leap in the dark assessment

Do you remember the Grand Old Duke of York? If the CNC believes that Anglicans consist of grapes in serried ranks, Bishop Graham might be the one to lead them to the top of the hill, and then presumably down again?

Candidates for Cantuar: Tim Thornton



Bishop Timothy Martin Thornton is the most elusive bishop that I have so far attempted to describe.

His Wikipedia entry, which in the case of some bishops runs to 6 pages, runs instead to six lines:

Timothy Martin “Tim” Thornton (born 14 April 1957) is the current Bishop of Truro, having previously been the Bishop of Sherborne from 2001 to 2008. Thornton was educated at Devonport High School for Boys, the University of Southampton and King’s College London. Ordained in 1980, following priestly formation at St Stephen’s House, Oxford, he began his ministry with a curacy at Todmorden followed by a spell as Priest-in-charge at Walsden. He then became Bishop’s Chaplain to David Hope: successively in the Diocese of Wakefield and the Diocese of London. From 1994 until 1998 he was Principal of the North Thames Ministerial Training Course. His final post before his ordination to the episcopate was as the vicar of Kensington.

Very good. Seeking further information from his diocesan website a week ago, I found a link to a profile page, which I followed only to be greeted with a dreaded ‘404’ message (‘Page not found’ – if you follow the link now, it is still there). Nothing daunted, I then telephoned the diocesan office and asked to speak to someone who could perhaps send me a copy of the information on the page. Did the diocese have a press officer? The person on the switchboard assured me that someone would ring back but I was not altogether surprised when nothing happened. The website has a nice line in self-deprecation, at least when describing their bishop. If you search ‘Thornton’, you will get no illuminating results and when Bishop Tim joins some teenagers on an Outward Bound-type course, he is described as ‘tagging along‘ (somehow I cannot imagine the Bishop of London being described as ‘tagging along’ to anything) which he gamely did, despite admitting to having no head for heights.


Bishop Tim is chairman of the national Continuing Ministerial Development Panel, which would indicate that he does have some experience of the Church of England at a national level.

The Crockford’s entry reads as follows:
+THORNTON, The Rt Revd Timothy Martin. b 57. Southn Univ BA78 K Coll Lon MA97. St Steph Ho Ox 78. d 80 p 81 c01. C Todmorden Wakef 80-82; P-in-c Walsden 82-85; Lect Univ of Wales (Cardiff) Llan 85-87; Chapl 85-86; Sen Chapl 86-87; Bp’s Chapl Wakef 87-91; Dir of Ords 88-91; Bp’s Chapl Lon 91-94; Dep P in O 92-01; Prin NTMTC 94-98; V Kensington St Mary Abbots w St Geo Lon 98-01; AD Kensington 00-01; Area Bp Sherborne Sarum 01-08; Bp Truro from 08.


I have not been able to find any. There is just one YouTube clip, but don’t blink or you will miss it (less than 5 seconds)

Attitude to Same-Sex Marriage

Bishop Tim wrote in December 2010 in The Daily Telegraph:

There is a difference between marriage and what are at the moment called civil partnerships. We need to be honest about that.
From my faith perspective and background, marriage is about the relationship between a man and a woman who commit themselves to a lifelong faithful partnership out of which in many cases, but not all, can come the gift of children.
That is a different thing from a civil partnership.
Speaking as the chairman of the Children’s Society, I don’t have any problem in understanding that civil partnerships can be places where children are adopted and they have very good relationships. I know of such couples who are very good parents. I don’t have a problem with that.
Speaking as a bishop, I do not myself see that at this stage it would be right for us to be making a significant change.

Colin Coward of ‘Changing Attitude’ commented on this article:

Even younger and supposedly more alert bishops like Tim Thornton, recently moved from Sherborne to Truro, can write an article about civil partnerships and marriage for the Daily Telegraph which is defensive and badly argued. He talks about the blessing of ‘homosexual practice, to put it in crude terms’ which is, from Changing Attitude’s perspective, to put it in very crude terms indeed, Tim.
Bishop Tim thinks the most significant thing is the danger of a confusion between different things, marriage and civil partnerships, which, “if we open ourselves up to blurring that difference … would be unhelpful for all concerned.” This is a problem for a minority, for bishops who spinelessly toe the line and other Christians who still think gay relationships are unlike heterosexual relationships.


Bishop Tim was one of the very few bishops actually to vote against the Anglican Covenant, in November 2011, which would have needed a degree of moral courage and shows a principled stand.

He also voted at General Synod in favour of adjourning the debate to enable reconsideration of amendment 5.1.c, the position generally taken by those in favour of women bishops.

Is it reasonable to infer that Bishop Tim is an Anglo-Catholic from his chairmanship of the English Anglican-Roman Catholic Committee, together with the RC Archbishop of Birmingham, announced in March this year?

English ARC, which was established in 1974, now comprises ten Roman Catholic and ten Anglican members, with the General Secretary of Churches Together in England as an observer. It is chaired by the Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Revd Bernard Longley, and the Bishop of Truro, the Rt Revd Tim Thornton.

The Archbishop of Birmingham said, ‘I look forward to working with the members of English ARC to find new paths towards the unity for which Our Lord prayed.’

The Bishop of Truro said, ‘I am excited by the commitment of English ARC’s new members and the prospect of a programme of work which will make a difference to our churches and their common witness both nationally and at the local level’.


Edwardian books on etiquette advised that ladies should only appear in the press on three occasions in their life: birth,  marriage and  death. Although my experience might lead me to suppose that Bishop Tim is attempting to live his life according to the precepts of genteel Edwardian womanhood, I am drawn instead to a different and more interesting inference.

I think it is perhaps likely that Bishop Tim is a genuinely humble man. It may be that he takes seriously the various versions of: So the last shall be first, and the first last (Matthew 20.16).

Leap in the dark assessment

If the Crown Nominations Commission are looking for a Servant King, Bishop Tim Thornton could be their man.



The illustration is from the BBC (the Wikipedia entry contains no picture of Bishop Tim).  Google images show that there are not many photographs in the public domain and those that there are tend to be of low resolution. The one I have used is a thumbnail, which I have magnified three times before inserting in this blog post.

Candidates for Cantuar: Nick Baines

Bishop Nicholas “Nick” Baines (born 13 November 1957 in Liverpool) has been the Bishop of Bradford since 21 May 2011. Bishop Nick was educated at Holt Comprehensive School, Liverpool, followed by a degree in German and French at the University of Bradford. He then worked as a linguist at GCHQ (the UK equivalent of NSA) for four years before reading theology at Trinity College, Bristol. In 1980, Bishop Nick married Linda, a health visitor and artist. They have three adult children: Richard (1981), Melanie (1984) and Andrew (1988), and a grandchild.

There is a very full, not to say fulsome, biography of Bishop Nick on the diocesan web page: he evidently has a most admiring Boswell.


The Crockford’s entry is as follows:

+BAINES, The Rt Revd Nicholas. b 57. Bradf Univ BA80. Trin Coll Bris BA87. d 87 p 88 c 03. C Kendal St Thos Carl87-91; C Leic H Trin w St Jo 91-92; V Rothley 92-00; RD Goscote 96-00; Adn Lambeth S’wark 00-03; Area Bp Croydon 03-11; Bp Bradf from 11.

A Communicator

Bishop Nick blogs (with a readership of 10,000 a week) and tweets (with 4,816 followers). He says:

“New media offer access to people (like me – a bishop) who might otherwise seem to belong to a remote and mysterious world.  They also enable us to engage outside our self-selected safe communities, be present in a space where a different sort of conversation can be had and allow connectivity between people, groups and ideas that in a previous generation might not have been possible, even if desirable.”

He is an experienced broadcaster, regularly appearing on Pause for Thought on BBC Radio 2. One of his main priorities is how the Church communicates its message. He says:

“I’m passionate about Christian engagement in the big wide world – not on our own terms, but on the basis that we get stuck in wherever we can; committed to the world in all its pain and glory.  And it’s something about which I think we need to be a bit bolder – and thicker skinned.”

Here Bishop Nick turns the camera and acts as reporter/interviewer. Unlike some of his episcopal colleagues, he has a relaxed and easy manner, a professional broadcaster to his fingertips (3.47 minutes):


He has seven books in print, according to his page on AmazonHungry for Hope (1991, DLT), Speedbumps & Potholes (2004, St Andrew Press), Jesus & People Like Us (2004, St Andrew Press, later revised and republished in 2008 as Scandal of Grace), Marking Time (2005, St Andrew Press), Finding Faith (2008, St Andrew Press), and Why Wish You a Merry Christmas (Church House Publishing 2009). Speedbumps & Potholes and Finding Faith have been translated into German (Am Rande bemerkt and In hoechsten Toenen, respectively).

Other Church Interests

Bishop Nick is the English Co-chair of the Meissen Commission (Church of England relations with the Evangelical Church in Germany), represents the Archbishop of Canterbury at international faith conferences and is a member of the House of Bishops’ Europe Panel.

He was a Director of Ecclesiastical Insurance from 2002-2010.

Here is a further example of Bishop Nick’s skills on camera.


Bishop Nick voted in favour of the Anglican Covenant, as did the rest of his diocesan synod by a narrow majority. At the last General Synod, he also voted in favour of adjourning the debate to enable reconsideration of amendment 5.1.c, the position generally taken by those in favour of women bishops.

Leap in the dark assessment

Another possible contender for Archbishop of York in due course?

Post Script 5 February 2014. 'One more step along the road I go'? Bishop Nick has just been appointed Bishop of Leeds, the new amalgamated diocese of three Yorkshire dioceses.

Candidates for Cantuar: Richard Chartres

Although I have not hesitated in previous summaries to call our archiepiscopal candidates ‘Fred Smith’, as it were, I do feel rather impertinent in so labelling The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Richard Chartres KCVO DD FSA, seen in the above illustration presiding over one of the many organisations of which he is patron, The Story of Christmas.

For Richard John Carew Chartres, born in July 1947, has all the magisterial presence one could possibly ask for in a candidate for the Archbishopric of Canterbury. He gave a memorable sermon at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, which endeared him to the hearts of many, both here and all over the world. It was brilliant in its simplicity.

He was born in Ware, Hertfordshire. He was educated at the then Hertford Grammar School and Trinity College Cambridge, where he read history before studying theology at Cuddesdon and Lincoln theological colleges. He has a Lambeth Bachelor of Divinity degree and four honorary doctorates (you can read all the details in the extensive Wikipedia entry, which prints out at four pages).

He is married to Caroline, author of several books including  ‘Married to the Ministry’ (1998) and ‘Why I am Still an Anglican’ (2007) and they have four children.



He was ordained as a priest in his late twenties (1974). After serving as chaplain to Robert Runcie when he was Bishop of St Alban’s, he was Professor of Divinity at Gresham College in London from 1987 to 1992.  He was then consecrated Bishop of Stepney and, in 1995, Bishop of London (properly Londinium, hence ‘Londin’). His Crockford’s entry reads as follows:

+CHARTRES, The Rt Revd and Rt Hon Richard John Carew. b 47. KCVO09 PC96. Trin Coll Cam BA68 MA73 BD83 Hon DLitt98 Hon DD99 FSA99 Hon FGCM97. Cuddesdon Coll 69 Linc Th Coll 72. d 73 p 74 c 92. C Bedford St Andr St Alb 73-75; Bp’s Dom Chapl 75-80; Abp’s Chapl Cant 80-84; P-in-c Westmr St Steph w St Jo Lon 84-85; V 86-92; Dir of Ords 85-92; Prof Div Gresham Coll 86-92; Six Preacher Cant Cathl 91-97; Area Bp Stepney Lon 92-95; Bp Lon from 95; Dean of HM Chpls Royal and Prelate of OBE from 95



He has seven books currently in print listed on his page on Amazon. The most recent of these is The Art of Worship: Paintings, Prayers, and Readings for Meditation (National Gallery London) which he wrote with Nick Holtam, now bishop of Salisbury.



Bishop Richard is the patron of the Burgon Society, ‘founded to promote the study of academical dress’ and has an interesting collection of vestments. However, although he undoubtedly ‘walks with kings’ (he is a Privy Counsellor), it cannot be said he has altogether ‘lost the common touch’.  At the time of the ‘Occupy London’ protest outside St Paul’s, Alan Rusbridger of The Guardian reported approvingly:

The Rt Rev Richard John Carew Chartres exuded an aura of benign ecclesiastical calm having performed the most dramatic reverse ferret in modern church history.

He has a wide range of outside interests. He is an Honorary Bencher of the Middle Temple, a Liveryman of the Merchant Taylors’ Company and Honorary Freeman of the Weavers Company. He is patron of Prospex, a charity that works with young people in North London, and a patron of the Georgian Group. He is the Founder and Chairman of the Trustees of the St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace. He is a member of the advisory council of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. He is patron of the Westminster Theological Centre and of St Paul’s Theological Centre. Since its launch in 2006, Bishop Richard has led the Church’s ‘Shrinking the Footprint’ campaign aimed at cutting 80% of the Church’s carbon emissions by 2050. In 2008 the ‘Independent on Sunday’ named him as number 75 of the top 100 environmentalists in Britain.


Bishop Richard is a six-candle High Church Anglican. No problem with that, of course, so was Archbishop Robert Runcie and many of his predecessors. Unfortunately, he would probably make a better Cantuar for the nineteenth century than for the twenty-first: it is perhaps no coincidence that he is also President of the Trollope Society. So what’s the problem? He does not support the ordination of women as priests (and therefore he of course is not in favour of women as bishops either). Diocesan synods have overwhelmingly voted in favour of women bishops, and the likelihood now seems to be that (one way or another) they will be introduced in the next few years. He would be in an impossible position as Archbishop of Canterbury at a time when there was such pressure. I believe he has not ordained any women in his diocese, although he has allowed his suffragans to do so.


Leap in the dark assessment

Probably the best Archbishop of Canterbury we will never have.

Candidates for Cantuar: James Jones

Bishop James Jones is my hero. I first fell under his spell when I was reviewing his book ‘With My Whole Heart’ which, if you have not yet read, I can strongly recommend. And if you want to know why I think he would be a good Archbishop of Canterbury for the years immediately ahead, reading the review will I hope give you some idea.

But let us by all means begin at the beginning.

James Stuart Jones was born in 1948 and went to the Duke of York’s Royal Military School (his father was an army major) in Dover, followed by a degree in theology from Exeter University. He got his teaching qualification in Keele and Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He then taught at Sevenoaks and worked as a producer at the Scripture Union. He did not become a priest until he was in his mid-thirties. He married Sarah Marrow in 1980, and they have three daughters.


Here is the Crockford’s entry:

+JONES, The Rt Revd James Stuart. b 48. Ex Univ BA70 PGCE71 Hull Univ Hon DD99 Lincs & Humberside Univ Hon DLitt01. Wycliffe Hall Ox 81. d 82 p 83 c 94. C Clifton Ch Ch w Em Bris 82-90; V S Croydon Em S’wark 90-94; Suff Bp Hull York 94-98; Bp Liv from 98; Bp HM Pris from 07. 

Bishop James ‘s work in the church is well-covered on the diocesan webpage.

He is a member of the House of Lords, Bishop for Prisons, Visitor to St Peter’s College in the University of Oxford, Co-President of Liverpool Hope University, WWF Ambassador and a Fellow of the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce), Honorary Fellow of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, Vice President of the Town and Country Planning Association, Trustee National Museums Liverpool. In 2009 he was appointed by the Home Secretary to Chair the Hillsborough Independent Panel


He broadcasts regularly, especially on ‘Thought for the Day’. He has written a number of books including ‘Jesus and the Earth’ (SPCK 2003) which looks at the relationship between Christianity and the environment.


Originally a conservative Evangelical, now see below.

So far, so good. In what we have seen so far, Bishop James has not particularly demonstrated any qualities not shown by our other candidates, although I would suggest that his background in teaching, writing and broadcasting indicate that he is an excellent communicator (which would make a nice change).

However, I would suggest there is only one thing you need to know about the man in order to decide whether you could and would follow him as the leader of the Church of England  (and, to the extent that the title is appropriate, the Anglican Communion). He has twice shown great moral courage in public.

The first was in the aftermath of the 2003 letter from nine bishops including James Jones to Archbishop Rowan Williams, opposing his decision not to block the appointment of Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading. However, Bishop James came to feel this was wrong and in 2008 he said publicly:

I deeply regret this episode in our common life. I still believe it was unwise to try to take us to a place that evidently did not command the broad support of the Church of England but I am sorry for the way I opposed it and I am sorry too for adding to the pain and distress of Dr John and his partner.”

Stuart James, of the E Church blog, reported in 2010 the extent to which Bishop James’s new attitude had ‘riled’ the Conservative Evangelicals.

The second was a speech made by the Bishop to his diocesan synod about the Anglican Covenant. Considerable pressure, you will remember, had been exerted on all bishops to ensure that everyone was brought into line and voted in favour of the Covenant. Bishop James got to his feet, went to the microphone, and told his Liverpool flock why he could not support the Covenant. You can read what Bishop James said in this blog by ‘KiwiAnglo’, also known as Father Ron Smith, an Anglican priest in New Zealand. Ripples in a pond, reaching across the world.

So, although you may think I am verging on the melodramatic, I have no hesitation in saying that Bishop James Jones has earned the right to claim the words of this hymn by Robert Lowell as his own.


Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great decision, offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever, ’twixt that darkness and that light.
Then to side with truth is noble, when we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and ’tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses while the coward stands aside,
Till the multitude make virtue of the faith they had denied.



There are some who will question the candidacy of Bishop James Jones by reason of his age. I have no desire to speed his retirement (Bishop James is the same age as I am) but would like to point out that the most popular and loved Pope of recent times was Pope John Paul XXIII, and his papacy lasted for less than five years. In 2012 we are looking, or should be looking, I suggest, for someone to lead us out of the wilderness. The personal qualities of the next Archbishop of Canterbury are, in my opinion, of over-riding importance.

Candidates for Cantuar: Justin Welby

Justin Portal Welby was destined by his DNA for leadership. I realise I shall be howled down for that statement, but think about it. There are two sorts of Etonians: on the one hand the Bullingdon Club cadets and, on the other,  those ‘tranquilly conscious of an effortless superiority’ . Justin Welby is the archetypal self-deprecating Old Etonian, one of those who never say they went to Eton but only that they went to ‘school’. Giles Fraser, no boot-licker of the gentry, reports:

“Lets be clear, I’m one of the thicker bishops in the Church of England,” he tells me. I’m not taken in by this disarming self-deprecation – something for which Old Etonians like him are not especially noted.1 No, there is nothing remotely thick about Bishop Welby. Which is one of the reasons why he has just been asked to be a member of the new Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards looking into the Libor fixing scandal. That, and his background in the City. For, despite a faintly Mr Bean-like appearance, the fourth most senior cleric in the Church of England is no otherworldly bumbler. Until his ordination in 1992, he was a senior executive in the oil industry for 11 years.

“I drifted into it because I couldn’t get a job when I left university, and I ended up working for Elf in France in their international finance team. They needed someone who could speak English and didn’t know anything about anything, so they could shape them.” More self-deprecation. In fact, he read law and economic history at Cambridge – hardly a position of total ignorance. “I stumbled into the first thing in my life that I was reasonably good at, and ended up being group treasurer in a company called Enterprise Oil PLC.”

Early Life

Justin Welby was born in London on 6 January 1956 to Gavin Bramhall Welby and his wife, Jane Gillian Portal.  He is almost certainly related to the Lincolnshire Welbys on his father’s side, and is definitely related to them through his mother and the Portal family. 3

After Eton, he read history and law at Trinity College, Cambridge before going into the oil industry. During this time, he was also a lay leader at Holy Trinity, Brompton. Justin is married to Caroline. They have five children and one who died in infancy in a road accident.


In the interests of space, we will once again look to the inestimable Crockford’s for his clerical career:

St Jo Coll Dur BA91 Hon FCT. Cranmer Hall Dur 89. d 92 p 93 c 11. C Chilvers Coton w Astley Cov 92-95; R Southam 95-02; V Ufton 96-02; Can Res Cov Cathl 02-07; Co-Dir Internat Min 02-05; Sub-Dean 05-07; P-in-c Cov H Trin 07; Dean Liv 07-11; Bp Dur from 11


Welby has written widely on ethics and on finance, featuring in books such as Managing the Church?: Order and Organization in a Secular Age and Explorations in Financial Ethics. He also wrote a book entitled Can Companies Sin?: “Whether”, “How” and “Who” in Company Accountability (Grove Books, 1992)



Nobody  that I can find has pinned Bishop Justin down with a label as to his churchmanship, not even Giles Fraser in his Guardian interview in July.

“I have tried to avoid saying anything,” he admits at the end of the interview. Well, I’m not sure he succeeded. On many levels he seems like a central-casting Church of England bishop. On the subject of women bishops he speaks of the need to square the circle, reconciling those who think it a theological necessity and those who think it a theological impossibility. How do you do this? “Well, you just look at the circle and say it’s a circle with sharp bits on it.”

I laugh. So does he. And on this note he heads off to a large glass City tower to talk about ethical investment. Should be a doddle for a man who can imagine a square circle. Indeed, it’s probably just the sort of imaginative power we could do with from the next archbishop of Canterbury. There is quite a lot on which I would disagree with the Bishop of Durham. But with regards to being the archbishop, he would get my vote.

Leap in the dark assessment

I agree with Giles: Bishop Justin would get my vote as the next Archbishop of Canterbury.

Evidently at ease with himself, with no known axes to grind, and no chips on his shoulder, visible or invisible (while retaining a becoming modesty), Bishop Justin has a proven record of negotiation with opposing factions which would stand him in very good stead as the next head of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. I do not say he is the only man for the job, simply that he could do it. Few others could.


1 Giles should perhaps get out more. The Welby type of Etonian is not that uncommon and much more attractive than the budding Bullingdonians. ;>)

2. Pete Phillips gave him a warm welcome to Durham. The diocesan website for Durham has this. The Revd Charlie Peer also wrote a very perceptive piece on his move to Durham.

3. Justin Welby is the great-nephew of the present (7th) baronet’s aunt’s husband, ‘Peter’ Portal (1st Viscount Portal), i.e. he married Joan Welby, daughter of the 5th Welby baronet. I know this because, coincidentally, I have been working on the family tree of one of his Welby cousins. At present, I cannot link him through the Welby line, though it seems very likely that he does connect. Justin’s parents were divorced when he was two, and all that is known is some of his father’s history in America, where he then went, and the fact that Justin’s grandfather, Bramhall James Welby, lived in South Africa.

4. The description of his father as a ‘bootlegger’ perhaps needs a little clarification. I think it was originally a throwaway line, in the self-deprecating mode described above.  Gavin Welby is described here, by the future mistress of Jack Kennedy, as ‘polite, even courtly – a gentleman, and not at all dangerous’. I guess if you lived in New York at the time of prohibition, many people found more or less dubious ways of getting their gin!

4. The illustration is by North News and Pictures Ltd

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