The Parish of Burchetts Green

The Rev'd Dilys Woodmore says

Rowan Williams is a hard act to follow

As the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, prepares to step down at the end of the year, it is worthwhile to reflect on his leadership of the 80 million strong Anglican Communion and, in particular, the Church of England. Most people would agree that his 'job spec.' is an impossible one and to have held the church together at all, in these troubled times, is in itself a commendable achievement.

His hugely intellectual style perhaps does not readily appeal to the masses, but his depth of thought and ability to understand and communicate at the highest level with other world-wide religious leaders is one of his outstanding abilities. To be able to initiate and direct dialogues with the main monotheistic religious leaders (Jews and Muslims), as well as others, has been a mark of his time in office. Squaring up to atheists like Richard Dawkins has, I suspect, been a discussion he has rather enjoyed!


I recently re-listened to an interview with the Archbishop and I was struck by his down-to-earth responses to some of the quick-fire questions that he was asked: from what was his favourite food (fish)to TV programmes {Simpsons, re runs of Father Ted and Frasier) to enjoying DVDs of films etc.

For an academic who is multilingual, a poet and writer, it was good to know that he is as human as the rest of us!

At the centre of his life and responsibilities is his absolute reliance on the love of God. His attention to prayer and commitment to discern what God requires of him, gives him the courage and energy to do the work.

Lasting legacy?

When he was asked for what he would like to be remembered, he said two things. First was his involvement with fresh expressions. The unstructured forums for exploration, worship and discussion of church (eg in our own BG Evenings and Discovery Groups) has greatly cheered him. The younger generation is linked in to social net working and cafe' culture rather than formal styles of worship.

Secondly, and perhaps more difficult to achieve, was putting the Christian faith on the intellectual and cultural map.

He is clearly forward- thinking and trying to make sure that the church is relevant in the 21st century. There is a much broader canvas to work on than just the issues that attract media attention - important though they may be.

I have enormous respect for anyone who can absorb the criticism, the hostility and ridicule, all elements that go with the office, with such good grace. Despite the knocks, he is a man who gets on with the job and pushes ahead for what he believes is in the best interest of the people and nations that he serves.

When the Crown Nominations Committee eventually is in a position to offer two names to the Prime Minister's office for Rowan William's successor, whoever is chosen will be only too aware of just how well Rowan has served the church and that he will be a difficult act to follow.

We must give thanks to God for all that our present Archbishop has done in difficult times and ask for God's blessing on his successor.

Serving God isn't an easy option but, at the heart of our faith, is the belief that we belong to God. Jesus says to us that if we want to belong to God and to be present in his kingdom then we must trust Jesus when he tells us that God loves us.

We must listen again to the parable of the Prodigal Son which tells us that God is always on his way towards us. The father with open arms runs to wards his repentant returning son. As we move towards the commemoration of All Saints' and All Souls' tide this is especially comforting for us all.

Every blessing