Back to Main Page Rowan Williams - "The Vicar writes"
From: All Saints Parish Magazine, Volume 103 Number 8 AUGUST 2002
Dr. Rowan Williams appointed as Archbishop of Canterbury
There was much to celebrate in our Parish on Tuesday 23rd June, when, after months of intense media speculation, it was officially announced that the Most Revd. Rowan Williams had been chosen to succeed Dr. George Carey as the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury.
He is the first non Church of England Archbishop for over 300 years and it is a wonderful honour for the Church in Wales to have a Welshman sit on the throne of St. Augustine.
Many in our Parish will remember Archbishop Rowan with much affection. He spent his formative years in Mumbles and has often spoken of how All Saints' Church and the ministry of Canon Eddie Hughes had a profound affect on his life and Christian vocation.
Rowan Williams spent his early years at Ystradgynlais in the Upper Swansea Valley. The town stands on the floor of the Tawe Valley and in the foothills of the Brecon Beacons. Fifty two years ago it was still a predominantly mining and industrial community - like so many Valley towns. It was and is a close knit place with a strongly Welsh and Chapel identity. Today, as then, Welsh is spoken as the first language in the majority of homes, shops and schools.
When he was three, the Williams family moved to Cardiff where he received his primary education.
At the age of eleven, his family moved to Mumbles and he gained a place at Dynevor Grammar School. At an early age he showed great academic potential by gaining straight A Grades in his subjects - though he cleverly avoided Games with a permanent sick note. It was during this time that he struck up a life-long friendship with John Waiters - now Vicar of Pontarddulais.
After moving to Mumbles the young Rowan Williams began attending All Saints' Church. The beauty of the liturgy and the ministry of the then Vicar, Canon Eddie Hughes, had a profound influence on him. He was prepared for Confirmation and became a server at the Church. He also sang in the Choir and took part in the Holy Week Plays produced by Canon Eddie. Many of his contemporaries in the Parish speak of how the early sixties were a great time to be a young Christian in Oystermouth. Archbishop Rowan has often spoken with much affection about All Saints, I came out of my teens seeing the Church as a mind-expanding. place to be, I was lucky, he is recorded as saying.
Mrs. Olive Hughes recently told a daily newspaper how the young Rowan Williams was a regular visitor at Oystermouth Vicarage. They had theological discussions but they talked about lots of other issues -- philosophy, poetry and music - for two hours at a time in the sitting room. I would leave them together with coffee and biscuits and dose the door.
After Dynevor School, Rowan Williams went on to Oxbridge and gained a Doctorate before going on to teach at the College of the Resurrection, Mirfield. He was ordained in 1978 and lectured in divinity at Cambridge and became one of the youngest Lady Margaret Professors at Oxford University.
In 1991 he returned to his native Wales when he was enthroned as Bishop of Monmouth. He was elected Archbishop of Wales in 1999. A number of representatives from the Parish attended the memorable Service of Enthronement at St. Woolos Cathedral, Newport. In Wales he has been widely respected for his learning and leadership. He has spoken out on a number of issues to face the Principality and has helped to raise the profile of the Church, not only in Wales, but throughout the Anglican Communion.
He has written extensively and published many Christian best sellers' - including books on theology, Church history, spirituality and poetry. He is also an avid reader and catches up on his reading when travelling on public transport. He does not drive.
Last September he was just a few hundred yards away in Wall Street when the two hijacked jets flew into the World Trade Centre. He had been speaking at a Church meeting, when with the people he was with and the children in the Parish Day Centre, he had to flee for his life. Within days, he made a passionate plea for America and her allies to exercise restraint in their response to the attacks, and for the west to address the root causes of terrorism. The prospect of death elbows aside thoughts of power and revenge. The unspeakable tragedy of thousands of innocent dead, the tragedy unfolding around us that morning, cannot be made better by more deaths. His words bad the added authority of his first hand experience of the atrocity.
Archbishop Rowan and his family have been frequent visitors to All Saints' over the years. He often attended Services when visiting his parents Del and Anuerin Williams at their home at Castle Avenue. His last official visit to the Parish was on All Saints' Day, 2000, when he presided and preached at the Patronal Festival Eucharist. He has also very kindly agreed to be Patron of our Restoration Appeal when it is launched later this year.
Archbishop Rowan is at heart a family man. His wife Jane is a Lecturer at Trinity Theological College, Bristol, and they have two children, Rhianon age 14, and Pip age 6.
In a few months time, they will leave their modern Bishop's Residence at Newport to move into their 13th century home at Lambeth Palace. As Archbishop of Canterbury he will lead his Diocese and the Church of England. He will also be 'first among equals' in the world-wide Anglican Communion.
The office of Archbishop of Canterbury dates back more than 1,400 years when St. Augustine founded the see in 597 AD. As 104th Archishop, his predecessors include Thomas a Beckett, Thomas Cranmer and William Temple. He will have a seat as of right in the House of Lords.
The post will take him around the world on pastoral and teaching visits meeting political and religious leaders. He will have a national, international and ecumenical role.
lts quite likely that All Saints will be represented at the Enthronement Service in the New Year. We wish him and his family every blessing as they prepare for their new ministry and assure them of our continued prayers.
Keith Evans, Vicar of All Saints'
"The Vicar writes" - Back to Main Page Rowan Williams