The current Dean of Liverpool, The Very Rev Justin Welby, has been appointed as the next Bishop of Durham.

From WIKI:

Welby was born to Gavin Bernard Welby and his wife, Jane Gillian Welby (née Portal). His mother remarried, becoming Lady Williams of Elvel, years after his father's death in 1975. He is also related to former Conservative Deputy Prime Minister Rab Butler, later Baron Butler of Saffron Walden. His great-grandfather, Sir Montagu Butler, was Lord Butler of Saffron Walden's father and also the father of Welby's grandmother, Iris Butler.

Welby was educated at Eton College before going to Trinity College, Cambridge to study law and history. Following graduation he spent 11 years in the oil industry, eventually becoming Group Treasurer of Enterprise Oil PLC.

From 1989 to 1992, Welby studied theology and trained for the priesthood at Cranmer Hall and St John's College, Durham (evangelical) before becoming a curate at Chilvers Coton with Astley (Nuneaton) from 1992 to 1995. He then became Rector of Southam and Vicar of Ufton from 1995 and 2002.

In 2002, he was appointed a canon residentiary at Coventry Cathedral and was also Co-Director for International Ministry from 2002 to 2005 at the International Centre for Reconciliation. In 2005, he was appointed Sub-Dean and Canon for Reconciliation Ministry.

Welby was appointed Dean of Liverpool in December 2007 and was installed in a service at Liverpool Cathedral on 8 December 2007.

Welby has written widely on ethics and on finance, featuring in books such as Managing the Church?: Order and Organization in a Secular Age and Explorations in Financial Ethics. He also wrote a book entitled Can Companies Sin?: "Whether", "How" and "Who" in Company Accountability which was published by Grove Books in 1992.

COMMENT: Oh, why, why, why?

Why me?

Why does God hate me?

We are moving to Durham to get away from the Bishop of Newcastle.

Talk about jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.

I give up.



  1. Wow! I’m speechless – what absolutely horrible credentials for a leader of the church. Clearly, “CofE, Inc.” has an interesting agenda…

  2. There is one plus – he has some experience of parish ministry, unlike a good many bishops!

    Jonathan, given your clear and understandable anger towards the CofE, have you considered moving to another denomination? Or do you still feel attached to the CofE in spite of everything?

  3. You may find he is not what you think. Often it is those who have crow-barred their way in to the establishment who are most wedded to it, not those who were there through no fault of their own.
    If you look at what he has done at Liverpool and Coventry there is some cause for hope.

  4. You forget the but about when he was the money man for an oil company by day, he was also a lay leader at Holy Trinity Brompton. HTB in the 80’s – where Sloanes and Yuppies reigned supreme. What a dreadful, dreadful appointment.

  5. Fair enough, I was just curious. I hope Charlie is right and the new bishop will be better than expected.

  6. He’s looking right at you, MadPriest. Is he gonna bring in the business model of running the diocese? And Holy Trinity in Brompton – the root of all Alpha! Oh, dear!

    WV: “watiosta”. My new swear word. Watiosta!

  7. Hmmm. And the responses at “Thinking Anglicans” seemed predominantly favorable.

    Well, you know my bog-standard response: cross The Pond. Try Anglicanism (of Our Sort) Somewhere Else.

  8. And the responses at “Thinking Anglicans” seemed predominantly favorable.

    I seem to remember the responses when a certain Welshman was announced as the new ABC were euphoric.

  9. And Holy Trinity in Brompton – the root of all Alpha! Oh, dear!

    I’m not sure of your chronology, Mimi, but is it possible that Justin Welby was at HTB when you were a Roman Catholic?

    And should we assume that your RC past totally defines you, as you seem to be assuming that his HTB past totally defines him?

  10. It’s yet another Oxbridge toff, Tim. With your respect for Anabaptists and the like, you, of all people, should be screaming against this scripture denying appointment.

  11. A commenter at Charlie’s blog, Pam, gives the following information:

    I was a Reader at Coventry Cathedral when Justin was the Director of the Centre for Reconciliation. He’s a hardworking and genuinely pastoral person, and wore his role very lightly despite being involved in some fairly hair raising situations when travelling abroad. He’s experienced in parish ministry which I do think is quite important when someone is making decisions which affect parishes.

    During his spell at Coventry he also gave the best talk I ever heard at a local Reader conference because he talked to us as equals. (Readers get astonishingly talked down to by a lot of clergy.)

    I’m not sure if his official biography has pointed out that he was also the chair of a health trust for while before he took on the residentiary role at Coventry.

    From the Diocese of Durham bio I also note the following:

    In November 2002, Justin became a Canon of Coventry Cathedral. In this capacity, with Canon Andrew White – who is now based in Baghdad – and later working on his own, he was responsible for leading Coventry’s international ministry of reconciliation, which included practical direct intervention work in the middle east and Africa, as well as facilitating a network of peace centres, the Community of the Cross of Nails, with 165 partners in more than 25 countries. In his last 18 months, in Coventry he was also Sub Dean of the Cathedral. He also worked extensively in areas of deprivation in Coventry, especially enabling local organisations to bring together different ethnic and religious groups.

  12. O for f…. sake. I detect something of a large chip on a shoulder here. Let’s see how he fits himself into the post before you start shooting him down. After all, the ABC did not fulfil your expectations, so perhaps Welby might not, but this time proving to be better than feared.

    I can fully understand your bitterness towards the Cof E at present – remember, I’ve also been made unemployed by “them” at one time, but maybe you need some sort of reconciliation to move past this … and look who has experience in that field … the new Bishop! Hmmm.

  13. I can’t help but be amazed at people who come to Jonathan’s blog, read a posting, and then, in the comments, tell him how he should feel, what he should do, and what reactions are appropriate or inappropriate for him to have regarding various news. Call me a fool at 50.

    Me, I offer you sympathy and empathy. The boss that I held judgement from last August has turned out to be something from a nightmare despite high recommendations and accolades.

    MP, scream if it helps. I’ll scream along with you.

  14. My ability to see, so often, into the future is not supernatural. It is based on my experience of all the things in life that have given me a chip on my shoulder.

    The chances of the very reverend Welby understanding and sympathising with the progressives and the few remaining Anglo-Catholic gays in Durham are extremely remote.

    But, as you say, I was fooled by Williams’ resume. Perhaps Justin will turn out to be the C. of E’s Pope John XXIII and will give me a job and remove the chip of experience from my shoulder.

    I’m not holding my breath.

  15. Tim, you already know that I dislike Alpha. I was not impressed with the upper, upper middle class folks in the church with their rapt expressions hanging on Nicky’s Gumble’s every word, nor with the slick production of the video series, nor with the rather simple-minded talks.

    Am I defined by years in the RCC? Of course, I am. I can’t wipe away 60 years of my life when I changed denominations.

    I don’t know more about the bishop than what I’ve read here, but the mention of HTB and Alpha is like waving a red flag in front of a bull. Sorry.

  16. We southerners are a bit like the Irish in that regard: more prone to employ the overstatement than the understatement.

    It’s part of what makes us so wonderfully charming.


  17. Still and all, SR has a point! someday, somehow,some kind of reconciliation between you and your hierarchy has to take place …. Why would a bishop recommend a guy (or gal) who shoots him or her down in a public blog before that person (bishop) even gets moved into the diocese ?bishops and their staff members must have computers also, must have heard of “Madpriest”, talk about connecting the dots!!!! You are shooting yourself in the foot, hoot mon!

    take care for yourself!

    PS sorry about the three posts, the word verification thing kept telling me that I hadn’t copied the word verification properly, don’t know why.


  18. Am I defined by years in the RCC? Of course, I am.

    But not ‘totally defined’ (I hope).

    I really, really don’t like Alpha.

    Fair enough. I really, really don’t like ‘Living the Questions’, either – but I have some good friends who think it’s great and I don’t write off their ministry because of it.

  19. It’s the fact that he was such a prominent member of the organisation that has got rich off Alpha that makes us suspicious of him, not the fact that he likes it.

  20. Nij, my complaint is that he is yet another example of the old school tie network employing their own. Why do we always have to have bishops who went to Oxford or Cambridge? Where are the lorry driving bishops?

  21. There’s Bob Bishop, my mate who drives a lorry, (or what we call a truck here in Oz). He’s a truck driving Bishop.

    But do you mean a bishop in the church? Who may have formerly driven a truck?

    Geez, man! You really are MAD!!!

  22. Bob Bishop is close enough for me. What does he think of alternative oversight. Could he be persuaded to give me permission to officiate?

  23. He would be delighted for you to officiate, as long as you also helped unload the truck. (In which case he would then be your overseer).

  24. But seriously Mad Priest I know that you were once a lorry/truck driver. However, this maybe biasing you somewhat against certain facts. Let me explain.

    I grant you your average lorry driver may well be a nice fellow, but please, look below the surface. If he is a lorry driver you can bet that he won’t have gone to Eton or Harrods or Macy’s or any of those great schools. It will be a fact the he will have gone to an ordinary school and almost certainly he will not have gone to University. Look deeper and you will see that the parents may well have been nice people, but more likely his father will have been a boozer. Not just a boozer, but a frequenter of the betting shop. And why? Trying to make more money!

    You seem to be against those who are appointed bishops because they seem like right toffs, having studied at Oxford and Mayfair. But again, look deeper. Look at the parents and there you will see a different story from our lorry driver. The father will no doubt drink a very expensive/top shelf brand of scotch or port each night. He will go to bed plastered, for sure, but note he will not be a boozer! Moreover, his father will turn his hand each day at gouging profits for the firm by striking out this or that division or embarking on selling this or that product. In doing so he may lose millions, and hundreds if not thousands of workers may be laid of as a result. But notice one thing: he is not gambling!

    Now it saddens me to have to turn to the Bible to put this all into context (you being a priest an’ all) but if we look at the Gospels we see priests and scribes and high priests and the rich and what were these, but educated men? Men fit to be leaders and to teach about God? Now, on the other hand you take Jesus and I hardly need to tell you it was an entirely different matter. Mother and father were bloody riff-raff from Nazareth. No education worth speaking of and a carpenter. If there had been lories (as you call them) in those days, you can bet he would have been one.

    Now, is Jesus fit to lead God’s people? That is the question. Should Jesus have been given a Bishopric??

    Well you only have to read the Gospels to answer that question. A hearty NO! Matthew Mark, Luke or John. Take your pick, they all concur. The evidence is laid out, bit by bit. Family, education, occupation even his behaviour. He was not fit and the outcome was. Well, he was the type who didn’t like to be told, did he?

    I have gone on a bit but I think it is important. In fact I believe it is too important to be buried in this thread so I will take the liberty of posting it on Chin Wag so that others can read it too. Really, sometimes I think there is only one other person who seems to understand these things…Father Christian.

  25. Brilliant, Boaz.

    And before anybody jumps to wrongheaded conclusions here, Boaz is most definitely not Fr. Christian. It’s just that great minds tend to think alike as they say.

  26. Just remember, Cuddy and Bede will be with you. As the former vicar of one of the extremely rare St Cuthbert’s in the US and one who has made pilgrimage to Durham, I have great faith in those two. May the Blessed Michael Ramsey also intercede for you.

  27. Sorry, but in this invective against the man before he’s even taken up the post I hear phrases like beams and motes running through my mind, and warnings about judging others …..

    I should also state that I don’t like Alpha. I think the whole system is highly problematic, and the financial profits made from it somewhat immoral. I also wish there was less emphasis on academic ability and learning in the leadership of the CofE, and that’s from parish clergy upwards. But one cannot be blamed for one’s upbringing, education choices made for you by your parents, nor striving to achieve your potential before entering the formal church. I didn’t go to Uni – never had the chance, and I waited until 30 before ordination training so that my inability to learn Greek or Hebrew would not count against me. Even so, I was only “conditionally recommended” because ACCM (as it was then) was unsure about my capability of completing the course. I hope I have proved them wrong.

    So, give the man a chance, and if he turns out to be a complete dick, then I shall join the chorus of disapproval.

  28. I’m happy that there is an emphasis on learning. What I don’t understand is why it should be restricted to Oxbridge and Durham only. I had some first rate tutors and profs and Nottingham and both Leeds and Sheffield’s theology depts were of world class standard.

    He can’t be held responsible for his upbringing but the whole church is responsible for allowing the bishops to be such a bunch of snobs. This would not happen in the US or Scotland because with a democratic process other factors, such as the pastoral ability and personality of the candidates come into play.

    If, it wasn’t nearly always the case that the old school tie dictates who we get as bishops then your comments about Justin Welby would be spot on, SR. But, because of the corrupt system we have in place I think it fair that he proves himself before those of us who will never get a sniff at preferment should STFU about his background.

  29. SR, I agree. I also have strong reservations about Alpha (my main objection is one I’ve not often heard mentioned – that in this day and age you can’t run what claims to be a Christian Basics course without actually telling the story of Jesus). But what I see in this man’s CV is someone who has put in a lot of years in parish ministry (not in the academic ivory tower, like many other C of E bishops), someone who has worked with widely divergent groups of people (including areas of urban deprivation in Coventry), someone who has experience in working for reconciliation, and someone who has experience in actually helping churches to grow.

    I was born in inner-city Leicester in industrial revolution row-housing; my grandfather was a mechanic and my grandmother worked in a shoe factory; my Dad left school at 16 to work as a commercial artist painting advertising signs, and when in later life he trained for ordination he often confronted prejudice against his lack of academic qualifications and his working class background. So my working class roots are pretty strong, but I’m not going to dismiss everyone who has an Oxford or Cambridge education or grew up in a privileged environment. Jesus got along just as well with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus as he did with the poor and the outcast.

  30. But that’s easy enough for you to say, Tim, because you don’t live with the same bias towards privilege that we do in England.

    A defining moment for me was about 15 years ago when I went to a parishioner’s wedding with my vicar. The vicar of the parish where the wedding was taking place came running out of his church and up to my vicar to tell him that the diocese was getting a new assistant bishop.

    “It’s alright,” he said to my vicar. He’s one of us. He went to Oxford.”

    I am always happy to admit to having a chip on my shoulder. But it didn’t come out of nowhere.

  31. And then there’s Pluralist.

    Since gay priests in the CofE must now repent of their past sexual activities before they can even be considered as bishops (although hetero priests will not even be questioned about their past sexual activities), I’d suggest that priests who formerly worked in high-powered jobs in the capitalist system be asked to repent of their activities. It seems only fair.

  32. Well, I have a number of parishioners who still work in high powered jobs in the capitalist system. Some of them are very generous contributors to mission and ministry and give sacrificially of their time in volunteer projects to improve the lives of others.

    BTW, this week in Edmonton we had a visit from a guy who works in a high-powered job in the capitalist system. He goes by the name of Bono. Some people seem to think he does a lot of good in the world, although I notice he contributes a lot to carbon emissions…

  33. I don’t rate him. And nor do the Irish after he moved all his money offshore the other year so he doesn’t have to pay tax on it.

    Taking money off the rich for the mission of the church is pretty similar to what the chantry priests used to do before the Reformation. I suggest that if you want this source of income to continue you don’t mention to the benefactors that they are going to hell 🙂

  34. Tim, are any of the folks you speak of candidates for bishop? If not….

    Good grief, no! Nehemiah 6:3 comes to mind…

    As for who is going to hell, I’ll leave that sort of thing for you to decide, Jonathan. But it seems to me that chantry priests were paid to pray for dead people to get them out of purgatory. I don’t think that giving money so that doctors can do orthopedic work for the poor in Ecuador, or spending your Christmas Day serving meals for inner city people, quite falls into that category.

  35. Tim, I could have said it better.

    I’d suggest that priests who formerly worked in high-powered jobs in the capitalist system be asked to repent of their activities. (adding)…before they can be considered as bishops.

  36. I didn’t have any real idea about this “Alpha” thing, until this thread here at TA:

    (I think my response there is sufficient, inc. my ending line “Hello, Krazy Kult!”)

    My story of class-bias, even here in the Good Ol’ US of A: when I was in grad school, I heard about another student who was making money (always a need of grad students!) via tutoring. I inquired of her, were they (the tutoring agency) doing anymore hiring? Yes—but you had to be an Ivy League graduate. Now I was at grad school IN the Ivy League (Columbia)…but only had a lowly state-school bachelor’s. So nevermind: I didn’t qualify. Feh!

  37. I don’t think that giving money so that doctors can do orthopedic work for the poor in Ecuador, or spending your Christmas Day serving meals for inner city people, quite falls into that category.

    Yes, you do. I respect your Biblical knowledge and orthodoxy too much to let you get away with that one, Tim.

  38. Tim, it just occurred to me that you argue with me even when it turns out that we mostly agree.

    From the lectionary readings for today on the Feast Day of the Martyrs of Uganda (including the recent martyrs):

    Habakkuk 2:9-11

    ‘Alas for you who get evil gain for your houses,
    setting your nest on high
    to be safe from the reach of harm!’
    You have devised shame for your house
    by cutting off many peoples;
    you have forfeited your life.
    The very stones will cry out from the wall,
    and the plaster will respond from the woodwork.

    And yes, I’m probably going to hell, too.

  39. When I was about nine years old I thumped my friend, James, so hard he fell over and started crying. Therefore, I think we should let Hitler off because a schoolyard scrap and genocide are just the same. Isn’t that right, Tim?

  40. My gripe about Justin Welby is that he is such a predictable choice in a church that is dominated by the old school tie. Maybe he is the one true diamond and all the rest got their promotions because of privilege. But there is something rotten in a system where those in power choose people like themselves without reference to people who are not like themselves.

    And you have to admit Justin’s bio could have been written by Stephen Fry for a comedy sketch about the Church of England.

  41. The attitude of the college he trained at was sycophantic at best.
    He was marked out from the beginning…
    that he is an able priest is an aside, but I could have vomitted at the sycophantic attitude of +Pritchard and +Cundy.

    Me, sore? Ha. Too damn right.

  42. Ridiculous question about your friend James. Everyone knows that moral equivalency with Hitler would only have kicked in if he had thumped you so hard that you fell over.

  43. How many of the people commenting here actually have a faith or worship within the angiclan communion.

    This sort of place on the internet, is disgusting. Anyone who bashes people on here before they are even in place is certainly not living in any christan way towards a fellow christian brother. Indeed, I would hope that people who feel the need to bash christians on here had no faith of there own, as this should lead them to realize it is wrong.

    As for being group treasurer of an oil company, what is wrong with that? bash away at things that you have little idea of and sit in judgement over someone else!

    The appointment of such a senior person in the church of england goes through many stages, and include the most senior anglican clergy in england (never mind the queen and prime minister) Have some faith in a system that has worked for 1000 years and pray for the new bishop rather than hitting him before he is even started.

  44. If you want a letter of permission to officiate in your new diocese, this post probably isn’t helpful toward the goal. But I’m sure you already know that.

  45. MadPriest, I was being polite. In truth, at times I wonder if you don’t have an unconscious death wish about your future in the church. Of course, I could be wrong.

    I want to be nice to you, especially in light of your recent disappointment about the ads.

  46. I don’t have a death wish. I just have a hierarchy of things that are important to me and I don’t adjust it to suit the occasion. I have never come across anybody who understands this so I don’t expect you to either. The pay off is that because of my crazy way of looking at life I have the most popular Anglican blog in the world which has changed things for the better for other people if not for myself. At the end of the day that’s easier to live with than the alternative, however easy and lucrative that alternative may be.

  47. It’s a southern thing, but please don’t read 100% BS into the words. There are nuances on top of nuances. And with people we don’t like, we don’t even bother. Keep that in mind. 🙂

  48. What Grandmère Mimi says about the southern thing is very true. I grew up not far from our Mimi and both my parents were from old, old (proud) Southern families.

    You have often given me credit, MP, for understanding the subtle connotations of the language as it is used in the UK. Do give me credit on this as well for it is truly my ‘mother tongue’ and I know it very well.