THE Archbishop-elect, the Rt Revd Justin Welby, told the Crown Nominations Commission that it would be "a joke" and "perfectly absurd" to choose him for Canterbury, it emerged this week.
In an interview at the Trent Vineyard Church in Nottingham,
alongside his wife, Caroline, on Sunday, Bishop Welby described the
He had been invited, along with other diocesan
bishops, to write a statement outlining what he would do if he was
"I'd been a bishop, let alone the Bishop of Durham, for seven
months," Bishop Welby said. "So I wrote a statement saying: 'Well,
if I was Archbishop of Canterbury I'd do this, this, this, and
this.' And the final paragraph said: 'I've enjoyed writing this. I
hope you've enjoyed reading it. But frankly it's a joke, because it
is self-evident that it is perfectly absurd to consider appointing
someone to Canterbury who's been a bishop for seven months. I shall
be praying for you to make the right choice."
During the interview, Bishop Welby spoke of the death of his
daughter, Johanna, at the age of seven months, five days after a
car crash in Paris, in May 1983.
In October of that year, the
couple accompanied the Rt Revd Sandy Millar, then Vicar of Holy
Trinity, Brompton, on a trip to California, where they met the Revd
John Wimber, one of the founders of the Vineyard movement.
During the trip, Bob and Penny Fulton, who helped to found the
Vineyard movement, prayed with the Welbys in their hotel room.
"They enabled us to see that God was walking with us in this very
painful period," Bishop Welby said.
"And we've had a lot of illness with the children and the family
since . . . really very serious, life-threatening illnesses. And
through it all there have been moments of great darkness; but
through it all there's been this reality of the love of Jesus. And
it was really through that encounter with the Vineyard that we
began to see that."
Bishop Welby went on to say that he thought that the present
moment was "the greatest moment of opportunity for the Church since
the Second World War".
Since the banking collapse of 2008, "all the
idols on which our society was based have fallen. They've been
But, he said, "the Church needs to be a place of peace if, now
that the idols have fallen, we are to show people. That doesn't
mean that we all agree; it means that we love each other when we
don't agree. . .If you look back on some of the arguments we've had over the
last few months in the Church of England, it is poison to the mind
of those who are outside the Church. It anaesthetises them against
Speaking before a farewell service in Durham Cathedral on
Monday, Bishop Welby said that the prospect of becoming the 105th
Archbishop of Canterbury was "extremely scary and a huge privilege.
. . It's exciting."
He said that the Church needed to find "a way forward" on women
bishops and the debate over sexuality.
"The Church at a national
level has to be outward-looking and a body that is engaging, not
looking inwards and consumed by its own problems. . . I am
optimistic we can make progress."
The office of Archbishop was conferred on Bishop Welby at St
Paul's Cathedral on Monday.
The interview with Bishop and Mrs Welby can be found here.