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The Archbishop of Canterbury -- Dr George Carey

Nov 22, 2002 03:00 AM EST

Dr George Leonard Carey is the 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury, enthroned on 19 April 1991.

He was born on 13 November 1935 in Bow in the East End of London. His father worked as a hospital porter and George was the eldest of five children. After failing his 11-plus he completed his secondary education at Bifrons Secondary Modern School in Barking, leaving school at 15.

He was first employed as an office boy with the London Electricity Board, going on at 18 to do his National Service in the RAF. His religious curiosity had already been kindled by Christian friends who had taken him to the local church. There he was able to explore some of the big questions about God and life which had been on his mind. After his time in the RAF he returned to the Electricity Board, but had already decided to seek ordination. He studied intensely to gain a place at King's College, University of London and the London College of Divinity. He graduated with a degree in divinity (BD) in 1962 - and was ordained deacon in the same year.

Dr Carey spent four years in his first curacy at St Mary's, Islington in North London. He continued to study and was awarded a Master of Theology degree for a thesis on Church, Ministry, Eucharist in the Apostolic Fathers. From Islington he went onto the staff of Oak Hill Theological College as a lecturer in theology in 1966, moving to St John's College, Nottingham in 1970 where he also served as Chaplain. During these years he obtained a doctorate for a thesis on how 2nd century Christians understood the nature of the Church.

From 1975 to 1982, Dr Carey was Vicar of St Nicholas' Church, Durham where he led the church forward in a programme of expansion and renewal. He described this period in his book The Church in the Market Place. In addition to his parochial duties he acted as a prison chaplain to a youth custody prison. He also maintained his links with the RAF, serving as chaplain to the Durham branch of the RAF Association.

In 1982 he was appointed Principal of Trinity College, Bristol and saw the college through a time of change and growth. During his five years in Bristol he served as an elected member of the General Synod and was appointed a member of the Board for Mission and Unity, subsequently serving as Chairman of its Faith and Order Advisory Group. He was also a member of the Council of the Advisory Council for the Church's Ministry (ACCM). In addition he has served as a member of the Theological and Religious Studies Board of the Council for National Academic Awards (CNAA).

Dr Carey is author of fourteen books of theological issues including our understanding of Christ, ecumenism, relationships with the Roman Catholic Church and the existence of God. He has also contributed articles and reviews to many journals and periodicals.

Dr Carey became Bishop of Bath and Wells early in 1988. Once in office he introduced and conducted a series of teaching missions, seeking to deepen faith and knowledge in deaneries and parishes. He has continued these in the Canterbury diocese since he became Archbishop in March 1991.

Dr Carey, who played a variety of sport in his younger days remains a keen supporter of Arsenal Football Club and can often be seen at the FA Cup Final. His other interests include reading, walking and listening to music. He is an enthusiastic user of computers and new technology. Despite the vast pressures of his office he is now also working hard to improve his French.

His wife Eileen is the daughter of Scottish parents, Mr & Mrs Douglas Cunningham Hood, who moved to Dagenham shortly before the war. Mrs Carey was born there and was educated at South East County Technical College in Barking, Essex. On leaving school she completed a qualification in Nursery Nursing (NNEB) and a SRN at West London Hospital. Mrs Carey later worked in the Radio Therapy Unit at Mount Vernon Hospital, Northwood. Dr and Mrs Carey were married in 1960 and they have four grown up children (two daughters and two sons) and twelve grandchildren (nine grandsons and three granddaughters). In 1998 Mrs Carey, together with her son Andrew, co-authored a book "The Bishop and I", which tells the story of 22 Bishops' spouses from around the Anglican Communion.