After a long process the Church of England has picked it’s successor to Dr Rowan Williams and its Justin Welby. By way of a quick biography he is an Etonian who has studied at Cambridge. He spent 11 years working in the oil industry before studying Theology at Durham University and became ordained in 1992. He was only appointed a bishop last year which demonstrates his rapid rise through the ranks of the Church.
Mr Welby has inherited a number of problems from Rowan Williams, dwindling attendance figures, women bishops and Gay marriage to name a few. Whether Welby is well equipped to deal with these issues that are threatening to seriously divide the Church, given his relative inexperience of the internal politics of the Church it could be very tricky for him. Probably the biggest reason he has been appointed is his experience in Africa. He worked as Dr Williams’s special envoy to Africa and worked on building relationships between the Christian and Muslim communities there. Given that Africa is a big growth area for the Church, as opposed to the ever reducing figures in the UK, you can understand why he would be a good candidate.
Welby has already expressed his favourable views on women bishops which is an issue due to be decided in 10 days. However his position on my last identified problem remains unclear, Gay marriage. That is an issue which could make or break the Church. Their opposition to it under Williams has really made a number of people, myself included, view the church as out of touch with 21st century society. My gut feeling is that this position won’t change, but equally not taking a stance could be as damaging. This issue epitomises what I want to discuss next. Here at OHO we have decided to debate the issue of Religion and it role in society. Should the Church be allowed to dictate to society, should it remain silent on social issues which don’t really impact it or should it continue Dr William’s policy of social commentary.
Me and Josh are going to debate this issue on OHO in due course, I can feel the anticipation already. Me in the atheist corner, Josh in the Christian corner. Keep a look out for our debate next week and feel free to join in with your own comments on the topic, help us decide who wins.