The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has today revealed that he is to step down from his role at the end of the year.
His decision comes after 10 years in the post and after accepting the position of Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge.
In a statement issued from Lambeth Palace, the Primate of All England said, “It has been an immense privilege to serve as Archbishop of Canterbury over the past decade, and moving on has not been an easy decision. During the time remaining there is much to do, and I ask your prayers and support in this period and beyond.
“I am abidingly grateful to all those friends and colleagues who have so generously supported Jane and myself in these years, and all the many diverse parishes and communities in the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion that have brought vision, hope and excitement to my own ministry. I look forward, with that same support and inspiration, to continuing to serve the Church’s mission and witness as best I can in the years ahead.”
Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, was traveling to Melanesia at the time of the announcement and was inaccessible for comment.
Archdeacon Paul Feheley, his principal secretary, noted that Archbishop Hiltz and Archbishop Williams had formed a unique bond through regular visits in recent years.”Archbishop Williams’ time in office was a time of significant challenges,” he said, “and throughout those challenging times, we benefited from his thoughtful, pastoral presence. One of the great joys for the Canadian Church was his visit in 2007 to our House of Bishops where he gave some very moving addresses on Christian Leadership as the Bishops prepared to nominate for the election of a Primate at the 2007 General Synod. I am certain that the whole Canadian church joins in wishing him well as he returns to teaching.”
Archbishop Williams is the Focus of Unity for the Anglican Communion. He is convener and host of the Lambeth Conference, President of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), and Chair of the Primates’ meeting. In these roles he travels extensively throughout the Anglican Communion, visiting provinces and dioceses, and supporting and encouraging the witness of the Church in very diverse contexts. As primus inter pares among the bishops, he has a special concern for those in episcopal ministry.
Following the announcement, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Canon Kenneth Kearon wrote to members of the Standing Committee informing them of the decision.
He asked them to remember Archbishop Rowan and his family during this time of transition and reflected on the Primate’s time in office saying it had “coincided with a period of turmoil, change and development in the Anglican Communion, and his careful leadership, deeply rooted in spirituality and theology, has strengthened and inspired us all in the Communion during this time.”
Archbishop Rowan’s announcement means that ACC-15 in New Zealand during the last quarter of this year will be his last as President of the ACC.
The Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu said he was saddened to hear the news: “Our partnership in the gospel over the past six years has been the most creative period of my ministry. It has been life-giving to have led missions together, gone on retreats and prayed together. In his company I have drunk deeply from the wells of God’s mercy and love and it has all been joyful. He is a real brother to me in Christ.
“The last decade has been a challenging time for the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. Thankfully, Archbishop Rowan is a remarkable and gifted leader who has strengthened the bonds of affection.”
For the official release from Lambeth Palace and more information about Archbishop’s Rowan’s time in office visit here.
Watch or read the transcript of the Archbishop of Cantebury’s interview with Press Association.
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