Rowan Williams on Imagining and Creating Common Ground

The most recent episode of NetVUE’s podcast series Callings features a conversation with Rowan Williams, one of the most recognized Christian leaders of our era. Rowan is a professor, public theologian, author, and poet, and from 2002 to 2012, he served as the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, which is the senior leadership position in the Church of England and the ceremonial head of the Anglican Communion worldwide.

Rowan describes his youth as being “immensely well-blessed with communities and pastors who encouraged that sense . . . that living with the Christian Gospel was living in a larger world, not a smaller one.” Even in retirement, his sense of vocation is grounded in the call from others’ needs and pain. He is guided by the questions, “What is being given to me here? And what is being asked of me here?” Our calling, he says, comes from those around us who are saying, “We want to see Jesus.”

In addition to reflecting on his own vocational development, Rowan shares insights into poetry, contemplative practice, and public leadership. He discusses his deep commitment to interreligious dialogue and his approach to finding “common ground,” which involves both “imagining and creating.” “You dig for the common moments of care,” he says, “but you also build the relationship, which allows you to keep talking.”

His insights into teaching and learning, from his years both in the parish and in the academy, emphasize what he sees as the core of education: joy.

Click here to listen to the episode featuring Rowan Williams, titled “Education, Contemplation, and Joy.”


Stephanie L. Johnson is the editor of Vocation Matters.

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