The Rt. Rev. Justin Welby, 56, bishop of Durham, will become the next Archbishop of Canterbury.
Today’s announcement from Lambeth Palace follows the Queen’s approval of Welby’s nomination.
Welby will be enthroned in Canterbury Cathedral on March 21, 2013. He succeeds Dr. Rowan Williams who is retiring at the end of the year.
“I don’t think anyone could be more surprised than me at the outcome of this process,” he told the Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS). “… it is something I never expected to happen.”
In a statement, Archbishop Rowan Williams expressed his delight at Welby’s appointment. “I have had the privilege of working closely with him on various occasions and have always been enriched and encouraged by the experience.”
He added that Welby has an “extraordinary range of skills and is a person of grace, patience, wisdom and humour. He will bring to this office both a rich pastoral experience and a keen sense of international priorities, for Church and world.”
According to a biography posted on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s website, the archbishop-elect has had a 20-year ministry that has combined work in parishes as well as internationally in areas of conflict.
Educated at Eton College and Trinity College in Cambridge, Welby’s first career was in the oil industry, where he rose to become group treasurer of a large British exploration and production company.
In 1989, six years after his infant daughter was killed in a car crash, Welby left his work in the oil industry to complete a degree in theology at St. John’s College, Durham.
After being ordained deacon in 1992, he spent 15 years serving Coventry Diocese, as curate at All Saints Chilvers Coton with St Mary the Virgin Astley, in Nuneaton. In 1995, he became rector of St James, Southam, and a year later, became rector of St. Michael and All Angels, Ufton. He helped revive both churches.
In 2002, he was made a Canon of Coventry Cathedral. He has also worked extensively in Africa and the Middle East and has a particular interest in Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria, where he remains involved in conflict resolution work. Shortly after the invasion of Iraq, he helped reopen the Anglican Church in Baghdad. In 2006, he became priest-in-charge of Holy Trinity Coventry.
In December 2007, he was installed as dean of Liverpool Cathedral, the largest cathedral in England.
On Nov. 26, 2011, he was enthroned as Bishop of Durham.
He and his wife Caroline have two sons and three daughters.