After 10 years as Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams has left to return to academia. His time has not been a happy one for the Church of England nor, I suspect, for him. Despite the standing ovations given to him by General Synod, they have ignored his advice and recommendations. In a short while the new Archbishop Justin Welby, will be in office. What can he look forward to during his archiepiscopacy? There is no doubt in my mind that it is going to be a difficult task he faces,
When the ordination of women to the priesthood was passed with the slenderest of majorities it was claimed that this was due to the working of the Holy Spirit. But when the motion to make women Bishops was defeated (with a larger number against in the House of Laity than had been in favour in the previous legislation)) it is no longer the work of the Holy Spirit according to various commentators. The legislation was not fit for purpose and that is why it was defeated. Bishop Welby has that as a problem to be resolved; finding a solution to give sacramental assurance to Anglo-Catholics whilst calming the fears and militancy of WATCH and other similar feminist organisations. If he fails in this he can look forward to a mass exodus from the CofE which will make the numbers departing in 1992 or more recently for the Ordinariate miniscule.
One of the strange things, in a church which seems to be slowly and steadily declining according to statistics, is that some parishes are the reverse and are slowly and steadily growing.From what I have seen it is those parishes, Catholic and Evangelical, which teach and preach the Gospel truths which are increasing the size of their congregations. But is it so strange? I don’t think so. It seems to me that people are getting no spiritual benefit from wishy-washy liberal parishes so they look to those who are orthodox. This is an area which urgently needs the attention of +Welby
Then there’s the Anglican Communion and particularly the Episcopal Church of the USA which preaches a Gospel which bears little or no relation ship to the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.
All-in-all +Justin Welby faces a formidable task and he needs our prayers as he approaches the start of his ministry. May he be richly blessed with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.