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This is an archived website containing material relating to Dr Rowan Williams’ time as Archbishop of Canterbury, which ended on 31st December 2012

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General Synod, London Sessions, 15-16 November 2005 Archbishop's contribution during the presentation on 'Episcopacy in the Church of England'

Wednesday 16th November 2005

A contribution by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.

Mr Chairman, there are two elements in the classic theology of the episcopate which have been drawn to our attention or mentioned or pointed towards in the presentation so far but which today may come into some tension with each other. There's a very strong tradition that the bishop is someone who convenes the church all in one place – drawing everyone together geographically.

Then there's the element of the bishop as a central figure in – and I choose my words advisedly – a 'web' of congregations of worshipping communities. Those coincided for most of the cultural history of Christianity; it may be thought that they don't necessarily coincide now. I would be very pleased to hear the panel's views on how essential, in our theology of the episcopate, is the geographical concept of Episcopal authority and jurisdiction and the territorial definition of a diocese.

© Rowan Williams 2005

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