Very sad to see that Rowan Williams is standing down as Archbishop of Canterbury (no, that's NOT him in the photograph). I think he’s been an excellent archbishop whose quiet humility, intellect and leadership have been an important anchor for the Anglican Church in these difficult times – with the growing schism in the worldwide Anglican Church on issues such as homosexuality and women bishops. In many ways, it’s a thankless and very difficult job and, sadly, I fear that the coming years will deepen the divisions within the Anglican communion and, ultimately, split the Church of England (in the same way the Episcopal Church has in the US). There is much to be fought for over the intervening years leading up to the next Lambeth Conference (worldwide gathering of Anglican bishops) in 2018.I have to say, I worry about the massive task his replacement (whoever he is)(and, of course, it HAS to be a bloke!) faces. I’ve been checking through the list of contenders and, frankly, no one stands out (for me) – although some do rather worry me.
Personally, I just hope that we don’t see a future Archbishop of Canterbury backed by the Evangelical Alliance (although one or two friends have suggested that it’s the “evangelicals’ turn” after what they see as Williams’s “liberal” reign!).
I tried out The Guardian’s “Interactive Guide – Pick your own Archbishop” and it seems that Stephen Cottrell, aged 54 (current Bishop of Chelmsford)(betting anything between 16-1 and 50-1), is my preferred candidate – although I know virtually nothing about him. However, he doesn’t feature on the BBC website of runners and riders! Apparently, he is sympathetic towards gay people; opposes the renewal of Trident; has specific plans for re-organising the church financially; and really cares about falling church attendances… but he probably also has views that might quite frighten me, for all I know!
Obviously, it stands to reason that “my man” won’t feature at all.
Photo: Stephen Cottrell, current Bishop of Chelmsford.