'Refreshing' archbishop is Anglican of the year

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

LONDON, UK (ANS) -- The Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, has been named 'Anglican of the Year' by members of the Church of England.

According to Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent for the Times of London, Dr. Sentamu, the Ugandan-born Archbishop who won international plaudits after he cut up his clerical collar on live television in protest at the Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe, beat the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, into second place.
The third-most-popular Anglican among members of the General Synod, the Church's 'parliament', was Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the former Archbishop of Cape Town.

Fourth was the Bishop of Rochester, Dr. Michael Nazir-Ali, and fifth was the conservative evangelical Archbishop of Nigeria, Dr. Peter Akinola.

'The Church of England Newspaper surveyed more than a hundred Synod members, including clergy, laity and bishops,' said Gledhill. 'The survey also showed that more than half believe that the Government is failing to defend the place of Christianity in public life.'

Christina Rees, a synod member for Oxford and chairman of the lobby group Women and the Church, said: 'I have great admiration for both our archbishops and I think they're both wonderful men. But I (named) John Sentamu because of his very bold gestures in response to news items and examples of injustice around the world, which have communicated something very important about what it means to be Christian and have made it immediately accessible to people who wouldn't otherwise have paid attention to the Church.'

Gledhill went on to say, 'In August, in a protest that captured headlines around the world, Dr. Sentamu shaved his head, moved into a tent inside York Minster and began a fast in an act of ëpublic witness' to call for peace in the Middle East. He also carried out outdoor full-immersion baptisms of new Anglican converts at Easter.

'More charismatic and televisual statements of Christian witness can be expected from him next year. His style complements the high-minded Anglican intellectual approach of Dr. Williams in Canterbury.'

Mrs. Rees said Dr. Sentamu had a way of transcending barriers of faith and denomination.

'Having his head shaved and fasting in York Minster, as well as the very visible outdoor baptisms, are very accessible means of showing a Christian leader responding in a way people can understand to the relevance of someone's faith.

'When he had his head shaved it created an interesting chain reaction, people of all faiths and none came streaming into the Minster and prayed with him, and he helped create a place and space for everyone who is concerned about huge issues of peace and justice,' she told the Church of England Newspaper.

Martin Dales, synod member for York, said: 'He wears his faith on his sleeve and a lot of people who aren't in the Church find his directness refreshing.' In the survey, 29 per cent of Synod members named Dr. Sentamu in response to the question: 'Which Anglican figure do you think has done most to help the Church in 2007?'
Dr. Williams was nominated by 24 per cent, Archbishop Tutu by 12 per cent, Dr. Nazir-Ali by 6 per cent and Dr. Akinola by 3 per cent.

Gledhill concluded by saying, 'More than half those surveyed, 57 per cent, said the Government was unsuccessful in upholding the place of Christianity in Britain today, with a further 23 per cent saying the Government was ënot particularly successful.''

This story is sourced from ASSIST News Service (ANS)