The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, announced today that he will resign his post at the end of this year. He has accepted a position as Master of Magdalene College in Cambridge that begins in January 2013.
In a statement issued from Lambeth Palace, he 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.”
Dr Williams’ intentions have been conveyed to Queen Elizabeth II, who is Supreme Governor of the Church of England and who formally appoints the Archbishop of Canterbury. According to the statement, the Crown Nominations Commission will consider choosing a successor in due course. The names of a preferred candidate and a second candidate will be submitted to the prime minister, who advises the Queen.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is one of four instruments 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. Archbishop Williams’ announcement means that ACC-15 in New Zealand during the last quarter of this year will be his last as President of the ACC.
Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, was traveling to Melanesia at the time of the announcement and could not be reached for comment. Archdeacon Paul Feheley, his principal secretary, noted that Archbishop Hiltz had formed a unique bond with Archbishop Williams over the years. “I am certain that the whole Canadian church joins in wishing him well as he returns to teaching.”
Archbishop Williams, 61, was born and raised in Wales, completed his doctorate at Wadham College in Oxford and was awarded a Doctor of Divinity degree in Oxford in 1989. In 1991, he was elected bishop of Monmouth and in 1999, Archbishop of Wales. In 2002, he was confirmed as the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury.