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Worth Reading - "The Road to Canterbury"

Four months before the name of the new Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby was publicly announced, Andrew Atherstone was commissioned to write this autobiography. It makes very interesting reading, and I recommend it.

His parents divorced when he very young and he was brought up by his father and grand-parents, went to Eton, and then to Cambridge where he converted to Christianity, along with several close friends. He joined an oil company and was promoted rapidly to become the company Treasurer. He and his wife went to an evangelical church in London and he first thought of ordination in 1987, and was eventually recommended for it in 1988; he then faced a drop in salary from £100,000 a year to about £10,000.

After his curacy he was appointed Rector of Southam in Warwickshire. He made his first visit to Africa in 1996, and this was followed by many more over the years, particularly involved in resolving conflicts, often at risk of physical harm. He was made a Canon of Coventry Cathedral in 2003, also travelling in the Middle East and Africa, and then became more involved in the domestic side of Coventry ministry. In 2007 he became Dean at Liverpool Cathedral, a huge building where he encouraged the introduction of worship in many different styles, and outreach to those outside the church. Then Archbishop Rowan Williams asked him to seek resolution of various issues among the international church, including issues in Africa and the USA. Three years later, in 2011 he was named as the next Bishop of Durham. In this relatively poor area, following decline of local industries, he was faced with problems relating to funding of the diocese, and he proposed changes to the traditional Parish Share, imposed from above, and he encouraged evangelism. He was still involved abroad, facing personal violence in Nigeria and heated argument in the USA on pastoral matters.

I reserved this book from the public library – it is not very long at 145 pages, but I found it encouraging that someone of Justin Welby’s background and enthusiasm should have been chosen for this huge role.

John Wiles

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