Posts Tagged ‘Archbishop of Canterbury’

Leadership in the Church of England

Monday, May 20th, 2019

I’m just back from a week in London and, as usual, I had many conversations with church people there.

And also, as usual, I heard many comments on the present Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London. Both leaders are relatively new in their positions. Both had secular careers before being ordained later in life. Both have Evangelical backgrounds.

And it must also be said that neither the Archbishop nor the Bishop come off in person as particularly attractive or exciting. Bureaucratic might be more accurate.

They don’t seem to have come up with stimulating new programs that would be likely to inspire the church. Nor have they impressed the high-powered businesspeople in the ancient City of London, where Incarnation’s sister parish is located.

While this is regrettable, the church will have both leaders in place for some years to come. All the more reason to pray that other, Spirit-filled persons will also be raised up to share the governance of our mother Church. —J. Douglas Ousley

Middling Way

Monday, October 16th, 2017

For centuries, the Anglican Church has been proud to see itself as the via media–the “middle way” between the Roman Catholic Church on the one hand and the Protestant churches on the other hand.

We have hoped that are unique traditional structure and our freedom of thought might even combine the best of both worlds. In any case, we want to be a meeting ground where other Christians could gather.

And it is true that we are probably the most diverse church body in Christendom. For example, we have within our communion conservative and liberal Evangelicals, conservative and liberal Anglo-Catholics, and extremely liberal and traditionalist Broad Church Christians.

Unfortunately, these factions seem far apart–though maybe less so than five years ago (the current Archbishop of Canterbury seems to have lowered the temperature of the conflicts.) Nevertheless, at this moment we are all still together. At this moment, we still represent a middle way. —J. Douglas Ousley

Most Reverend

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

At a clergy luncheon recently, I found myself sitting at a table next to a former Archbishop of Canterbury. He was erroneously introduced as “the Most Reverend Rowan Williams;” in fact, archbishops go back to being mere bishops when they leave office. The bishop has an interesting additional title, though, which he was given upon his retirement: “the Rt. Rev. and Rt. Hon. Lord Williams of Oystermouth.”

Bishop Williams has been writing furiously since he stepped down a few years ago. One hopes he will offer a memoir of his extremely controversial time in office, when the homosexuality debate rocked the Anglican Communion and caused a number of bishops to limit their contacts with the rest of our church. For this cautious, brilliant intellectual, the harsh politics of the worldwide church must have been painful.

On the surface, at least, things seem better today. The current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby had a good deal of diplomatic experience as an international businessman. The next Lambeth Conference of Bishops in 2020 looks to be better attended than the last one.

A nice thought as we prepare for Easter. —J. Douglas Ousley

A Rock Star

Monday, October 17th, 2016

My favorite picture from my recent trip to Rome is a photo I took of the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury as they processed right by me on the way to the altar of the church where they were to make their historic declaration. (See last post.) In the picture, the Archbishop has just begun to clap his hands, as applause breaks out in the congregation as a whole.

Applause in church? Very rare, I know–but this pope is a religious rock star. When he’s around, people get inspired and the rules are bent. (Photos in church? I disapprove in principle–but everyone around me was snapping away, so I joined in.)



The Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has issued a series of comments on the recent meeting of Anglican Primates (see my previous blog.) The statement is worth reading in its entirety; Episcopalians will be interested in such remarks as the following:

“The meeting reached a point on Wednesday where we chose quite simply to decide on this point – do we walk together at a distance, or walk apart? And what happened next went beyond everyone’s expectations. It was Spirit-led. It was a ‘God moment’. As leaders of our Anglican Communion, and more importantly as Christians, we looked at each other across our deep and complex differences – and we recognised those we saw as those with whom we are called to journey in hope towards the truth and love of Jesus Christ. It was our unanimous decision to walk together and to take responsibility for making that work.

“We remain committed to being together, albeit we asked that TEC, while attending and playing a full part in our meetings and all discussions, will not represent the Anglican Communion to other churches and should not be involved in standing committees for a period of three years. During this time we also asked that they not vote on matters of doctrine or how we organise ourselves.”

I remain reassured that the sanctions can be followed without much trouble. I do hope the activists on the left wing of our church can restrain themselves at the 2018 General Convention from passing any resolutions that could be termed “a matter of doctrine.” And I would pray that for the sake of the whole church, we Americans could for the time being follow the advice of my first mentor in the church, Canon John Andrew: “Pray more, say less.”–J. Douglas Ousley

Clothes Make the Man

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

The Romans had a saying, Vestis virum facit: “Clothes make the man.”

Clergy have long been known for their distinctive dress, but rarely has so much attention has been devoted to our sartorial choices as in the case of Pope Francis. His disinclination to wear the papal “pallium” and satin shoes is not surprising, given that Francis was disinclined to wear the purple shirt of a bishop. This accords with the Pope’s simplicity that was noted in the previous post.

This practice also contrasts with the specially designed garments worn by the Archbishop of Canterbury at his enthronement, featuring three blue pastel fish biting each other’s tails. I suppose there is a reference to the Holy Trinity here, but one might find another message of clerical self-importance. —J. Douglas Ousley

Stay Tuned

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

The long-awaited announcement of a new Archbishop of Canterbury will, apparently, be awaited longer.

The complicated process described for example in The Living Church has yet to end up with an acceptable candidate. My personal favorite and the only bishop I actually know, the Bishop of London, is apparently no longer in the running; he would have been only a caretaker archbishop anyway, as he is fairly close to the mandatory retirement age. The Archbishop of York, the early favorite seems to be blocked because of his controversial positions and management style. More on this fascinating selection can be found in the excellent Thinking Anglicans website; if you are interesting in gambling, there are many British bookmakers who will take your bet.

Meanwhile, stay tuned. —J. Douglas Ousley