Archbishop of Canterbury: Runners and riders

Who will succeed Rowan Williams as the Archbishop of Canterbury? The Crown Nominations Commission met in September, and it is thought the 19-strong committee - which includes bishops, priests and lay people - has chosen Justin Welby, the Bishop of Durham as its preferred candidate. An announcement is expected on Friday. Here are some of those who were contenders to lead the Church of England.

John Sentamu Richard Chartres Justin Welby Christopher Cocksworth Graham James

Archbishop of York

John Sentamu, Archbishop of York

Bishop of London

Richard Chartres, Bishop of London

Bishop of Durham

Justin Welby, Bishop of Durham

Bishop of Coventry

Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry

Bishop of Norwich

Graham James, Bishop of Norwich
  • Born 1949, Kampala, Uganda
  • Fled Idi Amin's regime to UK in 1974, studied theology at Cambridge
  • Second most senior cleric in Church of England
  • Married with two children and two foster children
  • Sun columnist
  • Born 1947, Hertfordshire
  • Took over St Paul's Cathedral after top clerics resigned during Occupy protest of 2011
  • Married with four children
  • Friends with Prince Charles, gave sermon when Prince William and Catherine wed
  • Born 1956, London
  • 11 years in oil industry before studying theology
  • Ordained 1992
  • On parliamentary committee looking into UK banking standards
  • Married with five children
  • Born 1959, West Sussex
  • Youngest serving diocesan bishop in Church of England
  • Spent five days cycling around the diocese - a "pilgrimage on wheels"
  • Married with five sons
  • Born 1951, Devon
  • Chaplain to Archbishop of Canterbury 1987-93
  • Appointed Lord Spiritual in 2004 and sits in House of Lords
  • Married with two children
  • Interests include amateur dramatics and cricket

In his own words

"The Church has always stood out - Jesus actually was the odd man out. I'd rather stick with Jesus than be popular because it looks odd."

"We are our brother's keepers - we're responsible for one another. Living in our own hermetically sealed bubble is not good enough."

"Each of us and all of us together need to care more about personal and general morality. Our culture has for years been saying 'You do what's right for you, and we'll all get on fine' - but we don't."

"What is attractive about the Church of England is that we don't try to cover up our differences, but we do try to work through them."

"The Church is relevant when it's meeting people's needs. There's no doubt that it's relevant to people's lives through service. What is much more difficult is to help people see that this service derives from our love of God, as well as our fellow human beings."

Stance on equal marriage

"Marriage must remain a union between a woman and a man," he has said.

But he supports civil partnerships.

Rejects calls for civil partnerships in churches.

For clergy, the "two possibilities" available are "lifelong heterosexual marriage and the single state. I am upholding the official teaching of the Church but will not start witch hunts."

He defended the Church's outright opposition to government moves to allow same-sex couples to get married.

On controversial issues for the Church, he has yet to fully set out his stall.

"Generally, I see Christians wanting to sort it out," he has said. "And as long as people are wanting to sort it out, they are on the road to reconciliation."

Claims gay marriage would create "a whole host of new minorities in society".

He supports civil partnerships.

And on ordaining women

Proposed female bishop could have full authority in her diocese but "in practice refrain from exercising" certain functions in a parish which objected to her.

Has refused to ordain women.

"I think the step [to have women bishops] is one which will have to be taken with enormous care bearing in mind the reverberations ecumenically."

"I'm strongly in favour of women as bishops. What we're struggling with is how you make the change and ensure that women have the full authority as bishops without making it impossible for those who have real conscientious objections."

When asked about this by the Daily Telegraph, he replied: "Argument is not a bad thing; a deep anger that causes you to want nothing to do with the other is a bad thing."

Firmly in favour of women priests, and believes it is therefore impossible to mount any theological argument against women bishops.

BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott's view

Some Anglicans look at the scale of the task facing the next archbishop and conclude that a personality as big as John Sentamu's is needed, not least to defend traditional Christian teaching.

But others don't believe his personal style - as exemplified by his cutting up of a clerical collar live on BBC television - belongs in Canterbury.

With his gravitas, experience and sense of occasion, Richard Chartres seems an obvious fit for the role of archbishop. He would make a credible caretaker leader for the Church.

However, his age and failure to ordain a woman priest are likely to count against him.

In a choice focused so much on the failings of potential candidates, people struggle to find anything worse to say about Justin Welby than that his father introduced President Kennedy to his first mistress.

The dark horse of the contest, he does lack experience on Church leadership - he wasn't even a bishop a year ago - but his impressive record in the "real" world of business and finance might appeal.

Conservative and mainstream evangelicals initially promoted him as an alternative to John Sentamu, positioning him as the intellectual evangelical whom liberals also like. Some of that lobbying has dissipated, but Bishop Cocksworth, although young at 53, might be considered well-placed to heal divisions in the Church of England and the wider Communion.

Graham James has a long record of competent management in the Church, and has been willing to confront the government about its gay marriage proposals and welfare cuts. His experience would make him the ultimate "safe choice", but he is also seen as lacking charisma and the capacity for inspirational leadership, so his best hope might be as a compromise candidate.

Other contenders include the Bishop of Leicester, Tim Stevens; the Bishop of Bradford, Nick Baines; James Jones, who is the Bishop of Liverpool; and John Inge, the Bishop of Worcester.

Compiled by Mick Robson and Megan Lane

More UK stories

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.