Prominent theologian Williams becomes new Welsh primate

Published February 1, 2000

The Bishop of Monmouth, Dr. Rowan Williams, 49, has been elected Archbishop of Wales.

The new primate of Wales is an internationally acclaimed theologian and well-known liberal, whose election seems to be popular among many in the church.

Bishop Williams knows he is inheriting a church with a declining population and low morale, according to a report in Church Times. One of the church’s biggest problems, the bishop said, was its deep conservatism, yet it had had to suffer many changes in a short period. The ordination of women, new rules on marriage after divorce, and new faculty regulations had “left the clergy feeling very battered.”

There was also the steady draining away of the rural population where old farming patterns were breaking up, and church people were left feeling very isolated. “They have to be helped to feel that things are possible, and it will be an important task to convey what new things are happening and can happen.”

His priority, he said, will be to look at new models of a “mixed economy” of ministry. “People’s patterns of belonging are so varied that we need ministries to meet their needs: perhaps more church-planting and lay evangelists.”

The church is already involved in ways of counteracting stress among the farming community, and is encouraging new initiatives in diversification and organic farming.


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