Justin Welby confirmed as Archbishop of Canterbury

By IH Friday 09 November 2012 Updated: 12/11 11:03

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Buy photos » Canterbury tales - The Very Reverend Justin Welby, will be the next Archbishop of Canterbury. (s)

A FORMER Southam vicar has been named as the next Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Very Reverend Justin Welby who was an oil executive before answering a calling from God, was unveiled at a press conference at Lambeth Palace this morning (Friday).

The current Bishop of Durham said his previous experiences, including being under the stewardship of former Bishop of Coventry Colin Bennetts, had served him well.

He also mentioned his time as rector of Southam where he admitted to "making many mistakes" although he did not elaborate.

Mr Welby was informed of the job offer last week before being handed a letter outside Portcullis House, in Westminster, on Monday (November 5) confirming the news.

He said his first reaction was 'oh no' before being overwhelmed and surprised. He had emerged as favourite after a flood of bets were placed on him taking the position, prompting bookmakers to stop taking bets.

The 56-year-old is known to favour the case for women bishops, but opposes gay marriage.

He added: "It is a time for optimism and faith in the church but I know we are facing issues.

"It is a certainty we will get things wrong but we will also get much right and have done so already."

Mr Welby took over as Rector of Southam in 1995 just three years after being ordained.

Before that he worked for 11 years in the oil industry for French company Elf Aquitaine and then oil exploration group Enterprise Oil PLC before retiring in 1987.

During his seven years in Southam he saw the congregation increase from 60 to around 180, and led an extensive drive to make the church more outward-looking. He also oversaw the restoration of the town's St James Church.

The father-of-five joined the South Warwickshire General Hospitals NHS Trust as a non-executive director in 1998 and two years later became chairman. He also served as a parent governor and chair of governors at Southam College.

In 2002 Mr Welby was appointed canon residentiary of Coventry Cathedral and the co-director for International Ministry at the International Centre for Reconciliation.

He went onto serve as Dean of Liverpool in 2007 and last year was appointed Bishop of Durham in what he described as a homecoming, having trained for the priesthood at St John's College, Durham University for three years.

Mr Welby - who will become the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury - said he would continue in his role as Bishop of Durham until Dr Williams stepped down next month.

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