Reweaving the torn fabric of the Anglican Communion has become the new Archbishop of Canterbury’s first order of business as he has appointed an Irish priest as Director for Reconciliation at Lambeth Palace. The appointment of Canon David Porter is Justin Welby’s first significant staff appointment, and the appointment of a professional conflict resolution specialist to his inner circle of advisers may foreshadow the priorities of the new archbishop.
On 18 Feb 2013 the Lambeth Palace press office announced that Canon Porter had been seconded by Coventry Cathedral where he remains Canon Director for Reconciliation Ministry’ to Archbishop Welby’s personal staff.
“The focus of Canon David’s role will be to enable the Church to make a powerful contribution to transforming the often violent conflicts which overshadow the lives of so many people in the world,” the statement said.
However, the “initial focus” of Canon Porter’s work “will be on supporting creative ways for renewing conversations and relationships around deeply held differences within the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.”
Archbishop Welby said he was “delighted to welcome” Canon Porter to his “personal staff.”
“David brings a wealth of experience in reconciliation and peacebuilding from his work in Northern Ireland and through the Community of the Cross of Nails in Coventry. Conflict is an ever present reality both in the Church and wider society. Christians have been at the centre of reconciliation throughout history. We may not have always handled our own conflicts wisely, but it is essential that we work towards demonstrating ways of reducing destructive conflict in our world - and also to setting an example of how to manage conflict within the Church,” the archbishop said.
Appointed Director for Reconciliation Ministry at Coventry Cathedral in 2008, Canon Porter was the co-founder and Director of ECONI (Evangelical Contribution on Northern Ireland). From 2007 until 2011 David was a member of the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council and in 2007 he was appointed by the British government to the independent Consultative Group on the Past.
Chaired by the Lord Eames the Consultative Group in 2009 set out proposals for how to deal with the legacy of the troubles in Northern Ireland.
“How we live with our deepest differences both within the Church and our increasingly fractured world, is one of the major challenges to the credibility of Christianity as good news,” Canon Porter said.
“It is a privilege to be asked to take on this responsibility for Archbishop Justin and I look forward to working with him in serving the Church in making reconciliation and peacebuilding a theological and practical priority in its life and witness,” he said.