“A safe place to do risky things”

I’ve just finished Andrew Atherstone’s brief biography of the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. For a book that was produced on such short notice, it is excellent. Atherstone does a terrific job of trawling through Welby’s publicly-available writings to paint a picture of the interesting, intriguing, and complex person now in the see of Canterbury.

Some of the interesting bits of the book have been quoted elsewhere. One bit that stuck with me, though, which I have not seen elsewhere is Welby’s emphasis on risk as a Christian virtue. When he was at Liverpool Cathedral, he encouraged members of the congregation with the phrase, “This Cathedral should be a safe place to do risky things.” It is a view, Atherstone argues, that has informed Welby’s ministry.

So I’ve been thinking about risk and the church lately. And to that end, I am off on a visit to the church in South Sudan that begins this evening. I’ll be bringing my copy of Atherstone’s biography to donate to the library at Bishop Gwynne College so students there can also reflect on our new archbishop. Stay tuned for posts from South Sudan (and in the meantime, read about my past visits there).

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