|Birth Day:||January 6, 1956|
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He spent 11 years working for European oil companies before following a calling from God.
Justin Portal Welby was born in London, England, on 6 January 1956, almost nine months after the marriage of his mother Jane Gillian Portal (born 1929) to Gavin Bramhall James Welby (1910–1977). Jane had served as a personal secretary to Sir Winston Churchill from December 1949 until her marriage to Gavin Welby in April 1955, soon after she had a brief relationship with the private secretary to Churchill, Sir Anthony Montague Browne (1923–2013). Justin believed that Gavin Welby was his biological father until paternity testing in 2016 showed that he was Browne's son.
Gavin Welby, born Bernard Gavin Weiler in Ruislip, West London, was the son of Bernard Weiler, a German-Jewish immigrant and importer of luxury items who changed the family name to Welby shortly after the First World War broke out. Welby describes his early childhood as "messy": Gavin and Jane Welby were both alcoholics. They divorced in 1959, when Justin was three years old, and he was placed in Gavin Welby's custody. In 1960 Gavin Welby was engaged to the actress Vanessa Redgrave, who called the engagement off after her mother Lady Redgrave wrote to Vanessa's father, Sir Michael Redgrave, that Gavin Welby was "a real horror ... a pretty rotten piece of work". Gavin Welby died in 1977 of alcohol-related causes.
Welby's mother stopped drinking in 1968, and in 1975 married Charles Williams, a business executive and first-class cricketer who was made a life peer in 1985. Williams was the nephew of Elizabeth Laura Gurney, a member of the Gurney family of Norwich who were prominent Quakers and social reformers. Welby describes his stepfather as being supportive of him.
Welby was educated at St Peter's School, Seaford; Eton College; and Trinity College, Cambridge, where his great-uncle, Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, was then master. He graduated in 1978 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and law; according to custom, he was later promoted to Master of Arts by seniority.
Welby's early grounding in Christian doctrine was rooted in the ‘Bash Camp’ network founded by Eric Nash. Welby became a dormitory officer at the camps held in the Dorset village of Iwerne Minster. The chairman of the Iwerne Trust (now operating as Titus Trust) in the late 1970s was John Smyth QC, a prominent evangelical and lawyer who had acted regularly for Mary Whitehouse. From 1978–81, Smyth allegedly carried out a series of brutal beatings on boys and undergraduates, recorded in a report written by Canon Mark Ruston in February 1982.
Welby is married to Caroline (née Eaton) and they have had six children. In 1983, their seven-month-old daughter, Johanna, died in a car crash in France. Referring to the tragedy, Welby explained, "It was a very dark time for my wife Caroline and myself, but in a strange way it actually brought us closer to God." Welby established a special day for bereaved parents at Coventry Cathedral where there is now an annual service commemorating the lives of children who have died.
Welby worked for eleven years in the oil industry, five of them for the French oil company Elf Aquitaine based in Paris. In 1984 he became treasurer of the oil exploration group Enterprise Oil plc in London, where he was mainly concerned with West African and North Sea oil projects. He retired from his executive position in 1989 and said that he sensed a calling from God to be ordained.
From 1989 to 1992, Welby studied theology and trained for the priesthood at Cranmer Hall and St John's College, Durham, where he was awarded a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree and a Diploma in Ministry (DipMin) in 1992. He was ordained a deacon at Petertide (on 28 June) 1992 and a priest the next Petertide (27 June 1993), both times by Simon Barrington-Ward, Bishop of Coventry, at Coventry Cathedral. He then became a curate at Chilvers Coton and St Mary the Virgin, Astley (Nuneaton) from 1992 to 1995. He then became rector of St James' Church, Southam, and later vicar of St Michael and All Angels, Ufton, Diocese of Coventry, from 1995 to 2002.
Welby has written widely on ethics and on finance, featuring in books such as Managing the Church?: Order and Organisation in a Secular Age and Explorations in Financial Ethics. Welby's dissertation, an exploration into whether companies can sin, marks his point that the structure of a system can "make it easier to make the right choice or the wrong choice." His dissertation led to the publication of a booklet entitled Can Companies Sin?: "Whether", "How" and "Who" in Company Accountability, which was published by Grove Books in 1992. He has said that the Benedictine and Franciscan orders in the Anglican churches, along with Catholic social teaching, have influenced his spiritual formation.
In 2002, Welby was appointed a canon residentiary of Coventry Cathedral and the co-director for international ministry at the International Centre for Reconciliation. In 2005, he was appointed sub-dean and Canon for Reconciliation Ministry.
Welby was appointed Dean of Liverpool in December 2007 and was installed there on 8 December 2007.
Interviewed by the BBC in 2011, Welby said that to be appointed bishop of Durham was both challenging and a huge privilege: "I was astonished to be offered the role. It is a passionate desire to see a church that is vigorously full of spiritual life, serving Jesus Christ and serving those around it." His election was confirmed at York Minster on 29 September 2011 and he left Liverpool Cathedral on 2 October. He was consecrated as a bishop at York Minster on 28 October 2011 by John Sentamu, Archbishop of York; and was enthroned in Durham Cathedral on 26 November 2011. He was introduced to the House of Lords on 12 January 2012, where he sits on the Lords Spiritual bench. He gave his maiden speech on 16 May 2012. He was asked to join the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards in 2012.
Welby emerged as a candidate to be the next archbishop of Canterbury; on 6 November 2012, the bookmakers Betvictor, Ladbrokes and William Hill suspended betting on his being appointed. On 9 November 2012, Welby's appointment to the position was announced. In January 2013, Welby said that he initially thought it was "a joke" and "perfectly absurd" for him to be appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, because he had only been a bishop for a short time. His confirmation of election ceremony to the See of Canterbury took place at St Paul's Cathedral on 4 February 2013 (by this, he legally became Archbishop of Canterbury); on the following day it was announced that Welby would be appointed to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom, as all archbishops are; the order for his appointment was made on 12 February and he swore the oath on 13 March.
In 2012 a victim of Smyth reported the abuse to the Church of England and Welby was informed in 2013. The Archbishop maintained that this was the first he had heard of the abuse by his old friend. The New York Times on 14 October 2017 quoted a senior Church of England figure as saying that “all senior members of the trust, including officers like Archbishop Welby, had been made aware of the allegations against Mr Smyth, even those who had been abroad”. Questions have remained among Smyth victims as to when Welby first knew, and some have labelled the Archbishop an “observer,” a term denoting a person who knew about abuse but who did not report appropriately. The Archbishop has said that he was not part of the inner circle of Smyth's friends and is on the record as saying that survivors must come first, not the Church's own interests.
In July 2013, following the report of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards Commission, Welby explained that senior bank executives avoided being given information about difficult issues to allow them to "plead ignorance". He also said he would possibly have behaved in the same way and warned against punishing by naming and shaming individual bankers which he compared to the behaviour of a lynch mob.
Welby was enthroned as the Archbishop of Canterbury at Canterbury Cathedral on 21 March 2013, which in the calendar of the Anglican churches is an observance of Thomas Cranmer.
Welby's schedule included an official visit to the Vatican on 14 June 2013, with visits to senior Curial officials, including Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, an official audience with Pope Francis and prayer at the tombs of Saint Peter and Pope John Paul II.
Welby has been a strong supporter of Anglican consecration of women as bishops. In November 2013, Welby stated he aimed to ordain women as bishops while allowing space for those who disagree. In February 2014, Welby called on Anglicans to avoid fear, prejudice and suspicion and to grasp "cultural change in the life of the church":
Referring to poverty in the UK in March 2013, Welby criticised UK government changes which cap benefits below inflation.
In July 2013, Welby spoke out against the payday lending sites and met with Errol Damelin, chief executive of Wonga. Welby pledged that the Church of England would support credit unions as society needs to "provide an alternative" to the "very, very costly forms of finance" that payday lending services represent. He noted that he did not want to make legal payday lending illegal as this would leave people with no alternative to using criminal loan sharks.
In 2013, Welby disagreed strongly with Lord Freud, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Welfare Reform at the time, because Welby believes the UK government cuts to benefits have caused or contributed to the surge in food banks. Welby cites Church of England investigation showing social services referred 35% of Durham residents who use food banks when benefits they were entitled to were not paid. Welby stated:
Before Christmas 2013, Welby urged people to give 10% of what they spend at Christmas to food banks.
In March 2013, Welby stated that "My understanding of sexual ethics has been that, regardless of whether it's gay or straight, sex outside marriage is wrong." He reiterated this belief again later in 2013, further noting that "To abandon the ideal simply because it’s difficult to achieve is ridiculous."
In July 2014, Welby acknowledged that there was a problem with young Muslim youths travelling to the Syrian Civil War and elsewhere to wage jihad but the numbers were "extraordinarily small", and so he dismissed concerns over the potential for trouble as "hysterical... I think we’re in danger of slipping into a very fearful culture". In 2015, he offered his support for British air strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) in Syria. Welby believes that the problem of Islamic extremism is far deeper than combating Islamic jihadists such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda; and that the Gulf monarchies and Saudi Arabia need to be challenged as their "own promotion of a particular brand of Islamic theology has provided a source from which ISIL have drawn a false legitimization." In November 2016 in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Welby stated that claiming that the actions of ISIS are "nothing to do with Islam" was damaging efforts to combat extremism. Welby stipulated that it was essential to understand the religious motivation behind extremism in order to understand it and also criticized the argument that claims that "Christian militia in the Central African Republic are nothing to do with Christianity."
Welby would like discipline applied over appointments to prevent opponents of women as bishops feeling alienated. Welby says he hopes to avoid a zero-sum game where people feel gain for one side inevitably means loss for the other, he sees need for caution, co-operation and unity. Slightly revised legislation to allow women to be ordained bishops in the Church of England was agreed in July 2014 and became law in November 2014.
Welby sees problems with special services of blessing for same-sex couples, saying in 2014 "There is great fear among some, here and round the world, that that will lead to the betrayal of our traditions, to the denial of the authority of scripture, to apostasy, not to use too strong a word and there is also a great fear that our decisions will lead us to the rejection of LGBT people, to irrelevance in a changing society, to behaviour that many see akin to racism. Both those fears are alive and well in this room today [a General Synod meeting in London]. We have to find a way forward that is one of holiness and obedience to the call of God and enables us to fulfil our purposes. This cannot be done through fear. How we go forward matters deeply, as does where we arrive".
In October 2016, Welby declared that abortion as "delayed contraception" is wrong.
Welby has shown some openness to accepting same sex marriage. In an interview with Alastair Campbell in October 2017, Archbishop Welby was asked if same sex activity was sinful, and declined to give a clear answer, saying "I don’t do blanket condemnation and I haven’t got a good answer to the question. I’ll be really honest about that. I know I haven’t got a good answer to the question. Inherently, within myself, the things that seem to me to be absolutely central are around faithfulness, stability of relationships and loving relationships." When asked if a loving stable relationship could be between two people of the same sex, Welby responded saying "I know it could be."
Smyth was described by Welby in 2017 as “charming” and “delightful” and they swapped Christmas cards for some years in the 1990s. In 1978 Welby left the UK to work in Paris, and Welby stated that "I had no contact with them at all". It later materialised that Welby had attended the camp in this period and had continued to receive the camp newsletter. Andrew Atherstone in the biography, Risk Taker and Reconciler, describes Welby as having been “involved in the camps as an undergraduate … businessman and theological college student in the 1980s and early 1990s.”
Welby was at first rejected for ordination by John Hughes, the Bishop of Kensington, who told him: "There is no place for you in the Church of England." Welby was subsequently accepted for ordination, with the support of the Vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton, Sandy Millar. Throughout his ministry Welby has been linked to the charismatic evangelical wing of the Church of England associated with Holy Trinity Brompton, and in a 2019 interview said that "In my own prayer life, and as part of my daily discipline, I pray in tongues every day".
Currently, Justin Welby is 65 years, 6 months and 26 days old. Justin Welby will celebrate 66th birthday on a Thursday 6th of January 2022.
Find out about Justin Welby birthday activities in timeline view here.