Rowan Williams

Rowan Williams

The Right Honourable Dr Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, will deliver a keynote speech on "How do we work theologically with our role in European society". 

Dr Williams served as the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury. He was born into a Welsh-speaking family in Swansea, south Wales, on 14 June 1950, and was educated at Dynevor School in Swansea and Christ's College Cambridge where he studied theology. He studied for his doctorate – in the theology of Vladimir Lossky, a leading figure in Russian twentieth-century religious thought – at Wadham College Oxford, taking his DPhil in 1975. After two years as a lecturer at the College of the Resurrection, near Leeds, he was ordained  as a deacon in Ely Cathedral before returning to Cambridge.

From 1977, he spent nine years in academic and parish work in Cambridge: first at Westcott House, being ordained priest in 1978, and from 1980 as curate at St George's, Chesterton. In 1983, he was appointed as a lecturer in Divinity at the university, and the following year became dean and chaplain of Clare College. 1986 saw a return to Oxford now as Professor of Divinity at Lady Margaret's College and Canon of Christ Church; he was awarded his PhD in Divinity in 1989, and became a fellow of the British Academy in 1990. He is also an accomplished poet and translator.

Rowan accepted election and consecration as Bishop of Monmouth, a diocese on the Welsh borders, and, in 1999, on the retirement of Archbishop Alwyn Rice Jones, he was elected Archbishop of Wales, one of the 38 primates of the Anglican Communion. Thus it was that, in July 2002, with eleven years of experience as a diocesan bishop, and three as a leading primate in the Communion, Archbishop Williams was confirmed on 2 December 2002 as the 104th Bishop of the See of Canterbury: the first Welsh successor to St Augustine of Canterbury and the first since the mid-thirteenth century to be appointed from beyond the English Church.

Dr Williams is acknowledged internationally as an outstanding theological writer, scholar and teacher. He has been involved in many theological, ecumenical and educational commissions. He has written extensively across a very wide range of related fields of professional study – philosophy, theology (especially early and patristic Christianity), spirituality and religious aesthetics – as evidenced by his bibliography. He has also written throughout his career on moral, ethical and social topics and, since becoming Archbishop, has increasingly turned his attention on contemporary cultural and interfaith issues.

He served as the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury from 2002 to 2012.

More information: Assembly programme schedule