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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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Dr Williams visits Archbishop Tenison's School in Oval, London

Tuesday 8th March 2011

Founded in the 17th Century by Archbishop Tenison this Church of England boys comprehensive school is an art specialist school - something which was evident from the high standard of paintings and drawings on display around the school.

The Archbishop speaking at Abp Tenison's SchoolThe Archbishop's morning began with assembly during which the whole school sang Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine with gusto, before listening to Dr Williams reflecting on the parable of the two sons and how the possibility of finding within yourself an understanding of what was the right thing to do in a particular situation, even if it was not superficially the most appealing path to follow; "trust yourself, trust your neighbour, be trustworthy – that is how change happens"

Click link on the right to listen to the Archbishop's sermon [6Mb].

The Archbishop was taken to very top of school where a new art room has been built, a room flooded with light and so showing the previous year's GSCE art work in all its glory. He joined some of the Year 8 pupils who were studying surrealism and landscape and chatted with them about the difficulties in capturing the visuals of landscapes, after which he met some of the A' level art students. He took the opportunity to look at their portfolios and discuss their projects - one of which was a painting in which the student had painted himself into the corner of the picture, inspired by the style of Norman Rockwell.

The Archbishop with a class at Abp Tenison's SchoolDr Williams then joined 2 Year 10 RE classes for a Q and A session which brought about some interesting (and tough) questions, ranging from biblical interpretation, particularly the book of Genesis and whether he agreed with the theory of evolution "yes, no problem with it", to whether St Thomas Aquinas' Just War theory still had a place in modern defence strategy. There was a clear interest in ethics of war, with a specific question on whether it was possible to be a Christian soldier on the front-line. In response Dr Williams outlined the difference between killing and murder and explained that although he was instinctively against armed conflict, he did concede that were times when it could be the lesser of two evils, citing WWII as an example of this.

The Archbishop with an art piece from Abp Tenison's School After a break with tea and pancakes (being Shrove Tuesday) the Archbishop had a chance to engage with the staff before being presented with a farewell gift of a piece of art which was the work of Gavin, one of the 6th Form art students.

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