As expected, an evangelical will become archbishop of Canterbury, titular head of 64 million Anglicans worldwide, this fall. F. Donald Coggan, 64, currently archbishop of York and second ranking bishop in Anglicanism, was named to succeed Michael Ramsey, retiring when he becomes 70 in November (see January 12 issue, page 47).
Coggan, a brilliant scholar in Semitic languages who once gave a speech in Hebrew in honor of a Jewish mayor of London and who was a coordinator of the New English Bible translation, is recognized as a member of the evangelical “low church” wing of the Church of England, the parent body of Anglicanism. Ramsey, a noted ecumenist, was identified with the Anglo-Catholic “high church” wing.
The appointment was announced four days after the post was first offered to Coggan. He’d declined to give a quick reply, preferring, he told Prime Minister Harold Wilson, to pray about it and talk to his wife (her family was Plymouth Brethren). The appointment came in the midst of discussions among Anglicans who want more church control over the way their leaders are selected. The debate, however, did not affect Coggan’s appointment, which was made according to traditional procedures. After consultation with Anglican leaders around the world, the prime minister’s appointments secretary recommended Coggan. His name was then referred to Queen Elizabeth, who, as supreme head of the church, made the nomination known.
The choice was a popular and expected one. London bookmakers were giving odds of two to one that the friendly archbishop of York would be named to England’s oldest see, and English church leaders of all theological persuasions praised the appointment, as did American Episcopalians. (The 3.2-million member U. S. ...1
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