On March 21, 2013, Justin Welby – 57 – was appointed the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury replacing Rowan Williams as head of the 77-million strong Anglican church.
In an interview with Charles Moore of the Daily Telegraph, Justin who is an evangelical, admitted he spoke in tongues. Tongues is a gift of the Holy Spirit first manifested on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:2-4). Today, it is part of the spiritual life of those in pentecostal churches and the charismatic movement.
Describing his experience, the Archbishop said, “It’s just a routine part of spiritual discipline – you choose to speak and you speak a language that you don’t know. It just comes.”
The Archbishop became a Christian while attending Trinity College. He even remembered the day — October 12, 1975. He was praying with a Christian friend when he felt “a clear sense of something changing, a presence of something that had not been there before in my life.” Up to this point, the Archbishop said was “vaguely” aware of God. He was so embarrassed by his experience — which he equated at the time to getting the measles — he asked his friend not to tell anyone.
After graduating from College, Justin served as an executive for an oil company. But he was never able to escape God’s calling and left the oil business in 1992 to become a deacon in the Anglican Church where he was a key member of the church’s evangelical wing.
Father a fraud and alcoholic
There is an interesting twist in the Archbishop’s life concerning his father. His father was an alcoholic and Justin faced a Jekyll and Hyde existence never knowing what mood his dad would be in. His father was also a fraud holding many secrets that wouldn’t be revealed until after he died, including a previous wife.
His father falsely claimed to be a descendant of an English Aristocratic family. He used this to befriend John F. Kennedy — eventual President of the United States — and even dated Kennedy’s sister Pat. He made political connections with the ruling Conservative party, married the then Prime Minister’s niece — who also worked as a personal secretary for Winston Churchill. This was Justin’s mother.
They eventually separated and during his teen years Justin lived with his father. When Justin was 21, his father died. After looking at his dad’s passport, Justin learned his dad was 11 years older than previously though.
And there one more secret — after he was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, The Telegraph discovered his dad’s real family name was Weiler, not Welby, and in fact the Archbishop was of Jewish descent. His dad’s family had migrated to England from Germany, where they changed the family name. After a journey to Israel, Justin found out he had enough Jewish blood to have been sent to Nazi Germany’s concentration camps.
This is a remarkable climb for a man with such a dubious background and equally remarkable appointment for the Anglican church, which for the past few decades has been slowly sliding down the road of liberalism.