Well the announcement of Archbishop Rowan Williams’ resignation on Friday caught most of us by surprise, but it hasn’t taken long for the evaluations of his ten-year tenure in the job to begin. The two I’ve enjoyed reading the most so far are The Church Mouse’s and Archbishop Cranmer’s. Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, summed things up well:
“Archbishop Rowan is a remarkable and gifted leader who has strengthened the bonds of affection. Despite his courageous, tireless and holy endeavour he has been much maligned by people who should have known better. For my part he has been God’s apostle for our time.”
You can read Dr Williams’ own thoughts on his last ten years at Christian Today.
I have grown to admire Rowan Williams’ humility and intellect over the last ten years, although he has often come across as ponderous and not particularly charismatic, which has, I think, often hampered his message. However, the hunt is now on for his replacement. I can’t imagine many bishops wanting to take it on. Dr Williams has publicly said that, “It is a job of immense demands and I would hope that my successor has the constitution of an ox and the skin of a rhinoceros.”
The Telegraph discusses the difficulties facing the next Archbishop of Canterbury. In the article, one of the frontrunners, the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James says, “I have served as a chaplain to an Archbishop of Canterbury and it was an impossible job then, and I think it’s more impossible now. Only those who don’t recognise its difficulties could possibly want to do it.”
The media’s favourite to take over is clearly Dr John Sentamu who is charismatic, down to earth and popular with many of the public, although as with Harry Redknapp and the England manager’s job, just because a lot of people think you’re the right man for the job, it doesn’t mean it will happen. The best analysis I’ve seen of the potential candidates is by Ruth Gledhill in Saturday’s Times, but unfortunately it’s behind a paywall, so instead I suggest looking at Peter Ould’s less less comprehensive, but still helpful version.
We need to remember that whoever gets the job will probably face even bigger challenges than Dr Williams. The church is fighting to keep its relevance in society and the worldwide Anglican Communion is straining at the seams. Keeping it together will be a huge job if indeed it is decided that unity is actually the best way forward. The successful candidate will need our prayers and a good deal of God’s wisdom.
On a change of subject, three things caught my eye relating to the ongoing same-sex marriage saga. One is an article on the BBC website looking at how marriage has been moulded by both the Church and state in Britain over the centuries.
When I heard that Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream is renaming one of their flavours to support gay marriage in association with Stonewall, I thought it was a hoax, but it’s not. Here is the low down on Apple-y Ever After from the Ben and Jerry’s site.
Thirsty Gargoyle has made an thorough in-depth analysis of the weaknesses of the Government’s Consultation into same-sex marriage.
Finally, I was listening to the Today programme on Radio 4 on Thursday between Robert Colquhoun, UK campaign director for 40 Days for Life, who are a pro-life group undertaking a forty-day prayer vigil outside a British Pregnancy Advisory Service clinic in London and Ann Furedi, chief executive of BPAS who said that women arriving at their clinics have been harrassed by the group. Though I respect what 40 Days for Life are doing, they didn’t come out of it very well. Caroline Farrow has produced a well written article looking at this case and discussing the pitfalls Christian campaign groups can face if they don’t think things through carefully even if they have a valid point to make.
You can listen to the recording of the Today debate here.