The archibishop of Canterbury is centre stage as Harry and Meghan marry. He talks disestablishment, gender equality and the future of the church
On a chilly Thursday evening, 400 parties have army into a immense, open-sided barn in rural Warwickshire to hear the archbishop of Canterbury speak. The warm-up behave is a young man with a guitar who performs a ballad about Hobnobs and custard creams, which may or may not include a veiled evangelical theme. The gathering- skewed towards the over-5 0s, with a predominance of Barbours and flat detonators – listen politely while chomping on their hog roasted baps; they haven’t come for the cookie song.
To one slope of the stage, Justin Welby waits, just observable in his customary black clerical shirt and dog collar, his head bowed. When his turn comes, he starts in self-deprecating mode, musing on his position as chairman of the Church of England and the global Anglican communion: are you supposed to be a person who dresses up in funny robes offering spiritual advice, or a kind of super civil servant, flowing one of the country’s oldest universities?
Earlier on this four-day tour of the area where he was firstly a parish pastor, Welby tells a group of farmers that he has written” a exceedingly boring volume” about the future of Britain, and an gathering of sixth-formers that he was ” litter at learning, but I could blag my practice through quizs “. At a primary school, he is asked how he came to be archbishop of Canterbury;” I don’t think anyone else required the job ,” is his reply. A few minutes later, Ronnie from receipt requests about the royal uniting: Welby is officiating at today’s ceremony.” I’m really, really excited ,” he replies,” but too genuinely, really nervous about sagging the rings”- which he did at the last marry he took, that of its communications director-” and everyone will thought: what an jackas .”
After each episode, he climbs back into the minibus ferrying him and his small suite( his wife, Caroline, plus his joint chiefs of staff, chaplain and head of media) and asks,” Was that OK ?” They reassure him; he reflects on the conversations he has shared and occasionally points out of the window to utter,” I used to have a beer in that pub !” or” I know that follower !”
Justin Portal Welby has been archbishop of Canterbury for five years, and intends to continue for another eight- longer than most of his precedes, though Randall Davidson lasted 25 times until he renounced in 1928. The undertaking is” very difficult to pin down”, but” at its center, the role is to be visibly someone who is committed to following Christ, and who supports others to follow Christ, and who inspires the church to encourage others to follow Christ “.