…Welby’s career path took a sharp pivot after the death of his baby daughter Johanna, who was killed in a car accident in France in 1983. Though devastated by the loss, Welby later said, “in a strange way it actually brought [my wife and I] closer to God.” A few years later, Welby quit his job and enrolled at St. John’s College at Durham University to study theology and become a priest. He quickly climbed the ranks of the Church and was appointed the Bishop of Durham””the fourth most senior bishop in the Church of England”” in November 2012. His appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury marks another huge promotion””but it’s an elevation to a post that promises to be extremely challenging.
Worldwide, the Anglican community is made up of dozens of different churches, each with their own autonomy. More than half of all Anglicans are members of conservative African churches. In the U.S., the Episcopal Church has only about two million members and an outlook markedly more liberal than their African co-religionists. On issues such as gay marriage, women bishops and even the economy, Anglican churches can seem as far apart from each other in their beliefs as they are geographically. The diverse network of churches is, however, unified through the Communion, which, for the last ten years, has been led by the liberal-minded Rowan Williams, who announced his resignation as Archbishop earlier this year after a decade of struggling to resolve clashes within his flock.