Lifestyle & Belief

New archbishop of Canterbury elected—and he's a former oil executive


The new Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby addresses a press conference in London, on November 9, 2012. Former oil executive Justin Welby was named Friday as the next Archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual head of the world's Anglicans, in a move aimed at healing schisms over gay and female bishops.


Leon Neal

Justin Welby has been nominated as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, succeeding Dr Rowan Williams, who is set to retire in the spring. The Queen officially approved his nomination on Friday, according to the Archbishop's website.

Welby, who currently serves as the Bishop of Durham, has only been a bishop for a year and has a somewhat unorthodox resume.

According to the BBC, Welby spent 11 years in the business world, working as an oil executive before turning to religion. Welby says this experience helped him in his church career, teaching him about "teamwork and working collaboratively."

Welbly also serves on a commission investigating UK banking standards, added the BBC.

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Welby is also an avid Twitter user, who writes about world affairs, his role as a bishop, and his 5-month-old granddaughter, among other topics:

CNN reports that Welby will face a number of challenges in his new role, including the debate over women and homosexual's role in the Anglican church, as well as a shrinking number of British church-goers, in conjunction with many thousands more in the so-called Global South.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is considered the most important non-royal in the UK pecking order, reports the New York Times, and maintains a senior position in the House of Lords.

“To be nominated to this post is both astonishing and exciting. It is something I never expected, and the last few weeks have been a very strange experience," said Welby on the Archbishop of Canterbury's website.

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"It is exciting because we are at one of those rare points where the tide of events is turning, and the church nationally, including the Church of England has great opportunities to match its very great but often hidden strengths," he added.

"I feel a massive sense of privilege at being one of those responsible for the leadership of the church in a time of spiritual hunger, when our network of parishes and churches and schools and above all people means that we are facing the toughest issues in the toughest place.”