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Tom Wright for Archbishop?

March 20, 2012

Tom Wright, former Bishop of Durham, darling of the Open Evangelical camp and a wolf in sheep’s clothing for those conservative evangelicals (who among others follow John Piper) has been tipped for the top job by blogger Peter Ould after Wright ended his article ‘Rowan Williams: An Appreciation’ article with the following comments:

…we now need consultation, collaboration, and, yes, strategy. Despite routine pessimism, the Church of England isn’t finished. In a sense, it’s just getting going. We need someone with vision and energy to pick up from where Rowan’s charismatic style has led us and to develop and deepen things from there.

A new Archbishop must be allowed to lead. Yes, there are deep divisions. Part of the next Archbishop’s task will be to discern and clarify the difference between the things that really do divide and the things that people believe will do so but which need not. But, at the same time, there are problems of structure and organization that slow things down and soak up energy, problems that can and should be fixed so that the church and its leaders can be released for their mission, and to tackle properly the problems we face.

Who, after all, is running the Church of England? We have Lambeth Palace, the House of Bishops, General Synod, the Archbishops’ Council, the Anglican Communion Office, and (don’t get me started) the Church Commissioners. How does it all work? In an episcopal church, the bishops should be the leaders. Rowan hasn’t bothered much about structures, but with six hands grabbing at the steering wheel someone now needs to take charge. I wouldn’t bet on the Crown Nominations Commission proposing someone with the right combination of spirituality, wisdom and strategic thinking, plus boundless, multi-tasking energy. But that’s what I shall be praying for.

Are these words a manifesto for the future of the Church of England under an Archbishop Tom or merely suggestion for anyone who might get the job? Personally I think Tom Wright would prove to be too divisive causing liberals to run in one direction and conservative evangelicals to run in the other, perhaps though this is what is needed. Plus Tom’s skills are best suited to the academy rather than leading on the ground and right now what we need, it seems, is a leader to guide us through what is bound to be a difficult decade! What do you think?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 21, 2012 12:07 pm

    Looking in from the outside it seems to me that the C of E is set for radical disintegration one way or the other in the next decade.

    Either a new archbishop will take a definite course that could lead to growth but at the cost of schism.

    Or he will hold the institution together at the cost of continuing ageing congregations and slow death.

    • March 21, 2012 12:12 pm

      Thanks Andrew, helpful and wise comments. I agree that the leadership we need will lead to a number of groups leaving, it is merely a question of how messy the break up will be and what is left after the divorce!

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