The retired archbishop of Canterbury will spend this fall and all of next year as a resident priest at an Episcopal parish in Chevy Chase while working on a research project at the Library of Congress.
The Most Rev. George Carey will arrive Nov. 15 at All Saints’ Episcopal Church and will be a member of the clergy team while researching religion and poverty at the library.
The Rev. Alfred Zadig, rector of All Saints’, announced the news in church last Sunday at the close of the sermon.
“There were tears of joy,” he said. “That sounds odd, but there was disbelief and, of course, [the reaction was] all good. No one knew this was even possible.”
Mr. Zadig says the 69-year-old archbishop approached him about the arrangement.
“He asked us in February, ‘Can I be your curate?’” he said. “It was really unbelievable. I am waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
After details were worked out with the Library of Congress, Mr. Zadig informed Washington Bishop John Chane on Friday that the one-time leader of the world’s 70 million Anglicans would be living and working in his diocese.
The bishop took the news well enough, but, Mr. Zadig added, “He said, ‘Let me get this straight. The archbishop of Canterbury has asked to be your curate?’”
A diocesan spokesman confirmed that Bishop Chane spoke Monday with Archbishop Carey, but details of the visit are still vague. The archbishop will travel extensively during his time in the United States and will live on Capitol Hill.
The archbishop had visited All Saints’ as a guest lecturer in 2003. Last September, he presided at a mass confirmation service at Truro Episcopal Church in Fairfax for 318 Episcopalians from 11 parishes.
Those parishes had refused to allow Virginia Bishop Peter J. Lee to perform the ceremony after his vote in 2003 to approve the consecration of V. Gene Robinson as the denomination’s first openly homosexual bishop. The Most Rev. Carey was brought in as part of a compromise between the two sides.
Many of the Virginia parishes are members of the Anglican Communion Network, an organization of parishes and dioceses that opposed the Robinson consecration.
All Saints’ is one of a handful of network parishes in the more liberal Washington Diocese. Mr. Zadig is on the network’s national steering committee.
“This is an unbelievable gift to all the Christian community in the District,” the priest said of his Episcopal visitor. “He will be an orthodox voice in this diocese.”