Archbishop Justin Welby enthroned in Canterbury

Archbishop Justin Welby enthroned in Canterbury

Archbishop Justin Welby enthroned in Canterbury

The new Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby is enthroned at a service in Canterbury Cathedral attended by more than 2,000 guests.

Justin Welby enthroned as Archbishop of Canterbury

New Archbishop of Canterbury is enthronedThey included the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and Prime Minister David Cameron.

The event marked the formal start of Mr Welby’s public ministry as leader of the 77-million strong Anglican Communion as well as head of the Church of England.

The colourful ceremony featured Punjabi music, African dancers and drummers and an organ improvisation.

Diocesan throne

For the first time in history, a female cleric, the Venerable Sheila Watson, Archdeacon of Canterbury, was given the central role of formally enthroning the archbishop on the diocesan throne in the cathedral – symbolising his appointment as bishop of Canterbury.

The archbishop was then formally enthroned on the 13th century marble chair of St Augustine by the Dean of Canterbury the Very Rev Robert Willis, symbolising his role as head of the Church of England and leader of the global Anglican Communion.

Earlier Mr Welby made a declaration of his loyalty to the Church of England and swore an oath of faithfulness on the Canterbury Gospels, brought to Britain by St Augustine in 597.

Striking the door

The start of the service saw Mr Welby striking the west door of the cathedral three times with his pastoral staff before the doors were opened.

In his sermon, he highlighted the contribution of Christianity to British society through work such as food banks, homeless shelters and education.

“For more than a thousand years this country has to one degree or another sought to recognise that Jesus is the Son of God – by the ordering of its society, by its laws, by its sense of community,” he said.

“Sometimes we have done better, sometimes worse.

“When we do better we make space for our own courage to be liberated, for God to act among us and for human beings to flourish.”


But he warned the congregation that the more the Church heeded “Jesus’ call” the more the Church would suffer – highlighting the martyrdom of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, the Anglican archbishop burnt at the stake in 1556.

“I look at the Anglican leaders here and remember that in many cases round the world their people are scattered to the four winds or driven underground – by persecution, by storms of all sorts, even by cultural change,” he said.

The congregation included representatives from the major faiths including Islam, Judaism and the Sikh religions. Leaders of the orthodox churches were also present including Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira and Great Britain.

The most senior figures in the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales were present including the Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, leader of Catholics in England and Wales, and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor.

Also present were the Labour leader Ed Miliband, Home Secretary Theresa May, Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow and Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.

Ringing bells

As the service finished, the cathedral bells rang and the archbishop proceeded out of the west door followed by Charles and Camilla. The royal couple spoke to him briefly outside as the congregation remained standing.

Bishop Emanuel Chukuma from Nigeria said afterwards: “It was quite an occasion. He seems to be a simple man and someone who is focused to bring the church together.

“His challenges looking forward is to reconcile the church because it has been wounded by unnecessary doctrines. Climate change is also another challenge as well as poverty and bad governance.”

Canon Charles Robertson from New York said: “The ceremony gives one great hope. Archbishop Welby will reach out to all Christians and people of all faith and the fact that this comes two days after the events in Rome makes one doubly hopeful.”

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