There has been a long history in the Church of England of appointing academics as archbishops of Canterbury. While this has made for some good theologian-archbishops, many would say it has created a situation where primates are out of touch with the daily life and struggles of parish clergy.
I’ve tried to compare the parish experience of the last five ABCs, and that of Justin Welby whose appointment has been announced today. Exact dates are not always easily available on the Internet, but here’s what I found:
Michael Ramsey (ABC 1961-74) – not sure, but not more than 8 years parish experience.
Donald Coggan (ABC 1974-80) – 3 years parish experience
Robert Runcie (ABC 1980-1991) – 2 years parish experience
George Carey (ABC 1991-2002) – not exactly sure, but about 10 years parish experience
Rowan Williams (ABC 2002-2012) – 2 years parish experience
Justin Welby (ABC 2012-) – 20 years parish experience (see bio here).
Maybe the Church of England is learning something?