HISTORY was made at the recent peaceful election of the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Rev. Justin Welby.

The election followed a period of seeking the face of the Lord.

It is interesting to note that Welby (born in London in 1956) pursued a career as an Anglican Priest in 1992, was consecrated in October 2011, and is, today, the new Archbishop of Canterbury.

He takes over from retiring Archbishop, Most Rev. Dr. Rowan Williams.

The global Anglican Church, in the recent past, came under series of attacks and criticisms, particularly on its inability to resolve the issue of sexuality that plagued the communion and left it wounded both spiritually and emotionally. The issue was a negation of the Biblical principle – ‘In the beginning he (God) made them male and female (Gen. 1v27)

The Church of Nigeria, (Anglican Communion) observes that Williams mounted the saddle when the global Anglican Church was intact. Regrettably, however, he is bowing out at a time when it has become tainted and dismembered. It wishes that Williams had stayed on to put the house in order. But all that is history. God, in His own way and time, has brought Welby to hold the forte.

Welby is reported to be a gifted negotiator, a man of warm charisma, a good listener and one who opposes gay marriage. I guess that he is the people’s and God’s choice. It is to this servant of God that the work of uniting the divided communion has been thrust.

Welby’s emergence teaches us a few lessons:  first, God can raise anybody and at anytime to lead His people, irrespective of years in the ministry. Welby, the Bishop of Durham, who was consecrated only last year, has been favoured to lead the worldwide Anglican Church. Indeed, God brings down one and puts up another, ‘not by power, nor by might but by my spirit said thy Lord’.

Second, Welby arrives at a time when there is so much hate, hurt, mistrust and misgiving. What is required of him, therefore, is maturity at handling issues. This virtue should be the watchword in things spiritual, social and political, because the Church is an integral part of society. Any mistakes could make or mar the communion.

Third, his background reveals that he is a man of remarkable initiative for peace talks. The Anglican Archbishop of the Province of Kaduna, Most Rev. Idowu Fearon, notes that the new Archbishop of Canterbury was involved, recently, in peace talks in Kaduna and the Niger Delta area of Nigeria. He was a former oil executive who spent some part of his working career in the country during the civil war.

We thank God for his election, aware of the scripture, which says: ‘blessed are the peace makers for they shall be called sons of God’ (Matt. 5v9).

Fourth, Welby is a good family man– a father of five, happily married for 30 years. This implies that he would restrict himself to godly principles and standards of ‘one man, one wife’, as opposed to gay marriage.

Fifth, he is well learned, having studied philosophy, theology and law. The implication is that issues would be assessed objectively before decisions are taken.

He should not be swept off at Lambert’s Palace by empty philosophies or revisionist tendencies or yet sit on the fence when the Church’s Canons are being trampled upon.

As the outgoing Archbishop, Most Rev. Rowan Williams, prepares to handover in December 2012, it is the prayer of the worldwide Anglican Church that the coming of Welby would unite the communion.

We wish him a successful tenure.

Ven. Ernest Onuoha
Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre,
Delta State.

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