It has long been known that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, had a conversion to Christianity when he was a young student in college. Welby himself has described his conversion under the influence of evangelicalism at Cambridge.
A new biography that will be released June 26, however, theorizes that an incident that happened much earlier might have spurred the bishop’s religious journey. The book, written by the Rev. Dr. Andrew Atherstone, recounts the story from when Welby was 18 years old, and went to Kenya to teach mathematics during his gap-year.
Welby’s roommate was devout, and recorded in his letters home what occured when one of their students at the Kenyan school was found to have hung himself in the woods off campus.
It was on a Sunday afternoon around the beginning of June, when the two volunteers were the only teachers on site, that they were called to take charge when one of the students had hanged himself in some woods nearby.
“Justin and I, since I was on duty, had the melancholy task of dealing with the affair,” Mr Kelly wrote to his parents.
Not two weeks later, Mr. Kelly writes to his parents that his roommate is praying again, wants to reconcile with his father, and considered himself a Christian. “I honestly don’t know if in Justin’s mind the two were connected”, wrote his roommate.
For Rev. Dr. Atherstone, they are, who believes that the trauma of dealing with a student’s suicide led the young Justin Welby to contemplate life’s deeper meaning and turn to faith.
The link to preorder the book is here.
You can read the whole article here, and contemplate for yourself.