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Enthronement of Rowan Williams as the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury

Posted on: February 27, 2003 7:05 PM
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In a ceremony that included everything from robust Welsh hymns to colourful dance, thunderous applause and pageantry, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Rowan Douglas Williams, was enthroned today following ancient custom in Canterbury Cathedral, the Mother Church of the Anglican Communion. The Dean of Canterbury, the Very Revd Robert Willis, led the Archbishop by the hand to his chair. Handing the Archbishop the Pastoral Staff, the Dean said:

"I give you this Pastoral Staff, a symbol of your investment with the Spiritualities of the See of Canterbury."

The Bishop of Dover then gave this blessing:

"May Christ the Good Shepherd so uphold and sustain you that you may lead with courage and guide with love those committed to your charge."

Archbishop Rowan took his seat as the 104th Archbishop, in succession to St Augustine. The ceremony was attended by many representatives of other churches and other faiths. Brother Primates of the Anglican Communion were present, along with Bishops of the Church of England and the readers and clergy of the Diocese of Canterbury. The Archbishop of York, the Most Revd David Hope, the Bishop of London and the Senior Anglican Primate Robin Eames, Archbishop of Armagh, had unique roles in the service, as did the Bishop of Dover, the Rt Revd Stephen Venner, the bishop ministering to the diocese on a day to day basis from Canterbury. The Bishop of Maidstone and the Archdeacons were also present.

In place of the sounding of fanfares, the response to the act of enthronement was the dancing accompanying the singing, "Amen. Siakudumisa." The Archbishop took the corporal oath on the Canterbury gospels book.

During the exchange of the peace, Archbishop Rowan was joined by his wife, Jane, in greeting dozens of people seated in the area behind the high altar. Approximately 600 people from the Church in Wales made the journey to Canterbury to see their own Archbishop take on this new role for the worldwide church.

The day also marked the Feast of George Herbert, priest and poet, and the choir of St Woolo's Cathedral sang a setting of Come my Way to music by John Sanders. One of Archbishop William's own poems was used during the Pennillion, in a setting for Soprano and Harp.

The Chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) joined with Sylvia Scarf, of the Church in Wales, and the Revd Andrew Burnham in offering the prayers and intercessions from the Compass Rose symbol in the nave. The Revd Canon John L. Peterson and the Revd Canon Hermann Browne led the procession of the Anglican Primates and other dignitaries into the Cathedral. Also in attendance were members of the ACC Standing Committee and Finance Committee. Officers of the Compass Rose Society also were on hand for the historic service.

The design of the Cathedral dictates creative liturgical planning. Under the direction of the Revd Kevin Goss, Precentor of Canterbury, the service took place both in the Nave and in the Quire with the Archbishop giving a blessing from the St Augustine's chair as well as the Nave altar.

The renowned choir of men and boys of the Cathedral sang the church's great hymn of praise, Te Deum Laudamus, to a setting by Benjamin Britten. The Archbishop left St Augustine's throne as the congregation sang:

Guide me, O thou great Redeemer,
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty;
Hold me with thy powerful hand.

Members of the government were present as was His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales. Security was tight and there has been a significant police presence in the Precincts of the Cathedral in recent weeks.

Dr Williams legally became the Archbishop of Canterbury at the Confirmation of Election ceremony in St Paul's Cathedral on Monday 2 December 2002, today's Enthronement service was his formal reception and a celebration of the start of his new ministry.