THE Archbishop of
Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Portal Welby, was enthroned in
Canterbury Cathedral on Thursday of last week, in a service that
combined tradition with modern reminders of his international
position in the Anglican Communion.
Great emphasis was placed
during the service on the relationship between the Anglican Church
and its ecumenical partners. And, although the African element
constituted only one element of the service, its colourful impact
made it one of the most memorable.
The service, which was
billed as "the inauguration of the ministry of the 105th Archbishop
of Canterbury" rather than an enthronement, was preceded by
processions lasting 50 minutes. Among the congregation were the
Prince of Wales, representing the Queen, and the Duchess of
Cornwall. The Government was represented by the Prime Minister and
other prominent figures such as the Home Secretary, Theresa May,
and the Lord Chancellor, Chris Grayling. The Leader of the
Opposi-tion, Ed Miliband, also attended.
Civic dignitaries from the
city and county were there in force, led by the Lord Lieutenant,
Lord De L'Isle. The Lord Mayor of Canterbury was re- splendent in
gold braid and feathered tricorn hat, as he processed behind the
sword and mace of the city.
included Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira & Great Britain; the
Moderator of the Free Churches Group, the Revd Michael Heaney; and
Metropolitan Hilarion, Metropolitan of Volokolamsk and chairman of
the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow
Patriarchate. Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical
Council for Promoting Christian Unity, came from the Vatican. Among
the leaders from other faiths were rabbis, imams, and a Parsee.
Pope Francis had sent his
greetings, saying that he was looking forward to meeting Archbishop
Welby "and to continuing the warm fraternal relations that our
predecessors enjoyed. . . Please be assured of my prayers as you
take up your new responsibilities, and I ask you to pray for
Pope Emeritus Benedict had
also written to the Archbishop with "prayerful good wishes" and
"sentiments of fraternal regard", referring to "the preacher's task
. . . to speak the truth with love. . . May your apostolate yield a
There were also a number of
Roman Catholic Benedictine religious, including Dom Richard Yeo,
the Abbot-President of the English Benedictine Congregation. Their
plain habits contrasted with the splendour of the headgear of many
of the Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox representatives.
One former Archbishop of
Canterbury, Lord Carey of Clifton, was present as a guest of the
Dean and Chapter.
The congregation had already
sung three hymns (including "Great is thy faithfulness" and "Come
down, O love divine"), by the time the Archbishop knocked on the
west door three times with his pastoral staff.
The doors were opened, to a
fanfare, and, in an innovation, the Archbishop was welcomed with a
short set of formalised questions about his ministry, which he had
composed himself. They were put to him by a 17-year-old
representative of the Anglican Communion, Evangeline Kanagasooriam,
a pupil at The King's School, Canterbury. Asked: "How do you come
among us, and with what confidence?" the Archbishop answered: "I
come knowing nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified, and in
weakness and fear and in much trembling."
In keeping with the season,
Archbishop Welby proceeded to the nave altar during the singing of
"When I survey the wondrous cross". There he knelt in silence,
during another hymn, the ancient Veni Creator.
Then came the necessary
legal declarations, after which the Archbishop was presented with
the Canterbury Gospels, brought to England in 597 by his
predecessor St Augustine, for him to kiss. Then, in another new
feature, the Archbishop added his signature to those of the other
co-presidents of Churches Together in England on an ecumenical
Readings followed from Ruth
and 2 Corinthians, both read by co-presidents of Churches Together
in England, a Lutheran bishop, the Rt Revd Jana Jeruma Grinberga,
and the RC Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Revd Vincent
Then came the two
installations, preceded by the hymn "The Church's one foundation".
First, Archbishop Welby was installed in the diocesan throne by the
Archdeacon of Canterbury, the Ven. Sheila Watson.
Next, the hymn "Saranam", to
a Punjabi melody, was sung, though in a more low-key way, since the
tune was unfamiliar to many in the congregation.
Then the Dean of Canterbury,
the Very Revd Robert Willis, placed the Archbishop in the Chair of
St Augustine, confirming him as Primate of All England and
Metropolitan, "that by God's grace you may guide and govern this
see to which the eyes of all Anglican Christians look as the centre
of their Communion and fellowship". The Archbishop of Burundi, the
Most Revd Bernard Ntahoturi, blessed him in French, asking God to
grant him "the power to guide and rule the Church with courage and
The Dean then presented the
Archbishop to the congregation, which greeted him with sustained
applause. This was repeated, perhaps a little more spontaneously,
at the end of the service as the Archbishop processed out.
After his presentation,
Archbishop Welby introduced the Peace, which the congregation then
shared, while the Evangelical anthem "In Christ alone" was
This was followed by song
and dance: "Gbeh kpa kpa ba", performed by a London-based
group, Frititi, using elements of melodies from Ghana. The dancing
drummers, dressed in bright mustard and red polka-dot trousers, led
the Archbishop to the pulpitum screen, where he proclaimed the
Gospel from the top of the steps. The passage was from Matthew 14,
the account of Jesus's walking on water.
Then followed the sermon, in
which the Archbishop described this country as one that, "for more
than 1000 years . . . has to one degree or another sought to
recognise that Jesus is the Son of God". His vision of a Christian
England was clear: "There can be no final justice, or security, or
love, or hope in our society if it is not finally based on
rootedness in Christ."
In a reference to St Peter,
he spoke of the "Christ-liberated courage" with which the world had
to face its present environmental and economic problems. And there
was a reference to St Peter's latest successor: "In humility and
simplicity, Pope Francis called us on Tuesday to be protectors of
each other: of the natural world, of the poor and vulnerable.
Courage is released in a society that is under the authority of
God, so that we may become the fully human community of which we
An organ improvisation
followed, during which symbols representing regions of the Anglican
Communion were placed on the high altar: an olive-wood cross from
Bethlehem; water from Canada; a bread packet and water-carrier from
Kenya, presented by a member of the Mothers' Union; from Hong Kong,
a picture made of rice; and from the Democratic Republic of Congo,
a wooden carving of a volcano, representing the desire for
The Nicene Creed that
followed omitted the filioque (now a customary when
ecumenical guests are present), after which the choir sang the Te
Deum in C by Benjamin Britten, whose centenary is celebrated this
Intercessions were led by
young people from the diocese of Canterbury, ending with the
General Thanksgiving, described as being from the Book of Common
Prayer, but in fact altered to make the language
A new anthem by Britten's
godson, Michael Berkeley, set words from the Rule of St Benedict,
"Listen, listen, O my child". It was specially commissioned for the
service by Archbishop Welby's mother and stepfather, Lord and Lady
Williams of Elvel.
The Archbishop then blessed
the congregation in the quire, and processed to the nave altar
during the singing of Charles Wesley's "And can it be . . ?" There
he blessed the congregation in the nave, before heading to the west
door and the waiting photographers.
After a short chat with the
Prince of Wales, the Archbishop was escorted to the Chapter House,
and placed in his seat by the Dean, where he received the oaths of
obedience from the Chapter and the other members of the
The Dean closed proceedings
with the traditional prayers in Latin, asking God's blessing on the
More than 1000 guests were
served tea, when they had a chance to meet Archbishop Welby; and,
in the evening, more than 300 attended a dinner at the University
of Kent, hosted by the Nikæan Club, which offers hospitality on
behalf of the Archbishop.
The Very Revd Peter Hughes OSB Cam, an Australian Roman Catholic
Benedictine, addressed the gathering, speaking of Christian
diversity as a strength in the modern world. Archbishop Welby
responded, noting that his guests the Revd Rick Warren, the
American megachurch pastor, and the Revd Nicky Gumbel, pioneer of
the Alpha Course, might not have been invited in earlier years. He
ended with a toast to Pope Francis.