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This is an archived website containing material relating to Dr Rowan Williams’ time as Archbishop of Canterbury, which ended on 31st December 2012

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Archbishop visits Magdalen College School

Physics lesson at Magdalen College School

Thursday 12th January 2012

Archbishop Rowan Williams visited Magdalen College School in Oxford, an independent school for boys which has also accepted girls into the 6th form since 2010.

The Archbishop’s visit began with a service for the whole school during which Dr Williams preached a sermon about how Jesus healed people - that he didn't just heal the illness, he also helped to integrate the person back into the community. The Archbishop explained that it was an important part of the Church's ministry and witness to remember and look after people that others might forget. 

The service was followed by a special “interview” between Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Rowan Williams, an 11 year old pupil at Magdalen College School. The two Rowans established an early bond when they discovered that both had families who complained about their messy hair, but their conversation also included more serious matters.  Asked what he would do if he were Archbishop, Rowan Williams the younger impressed the Archbishop with thoughtful comments on how he would try and speak for people who are voiceless.  Archbishop Rowan also told pupils that even though his work is challenging it is never boring, and that when he has some spare time he enjoys reading novels. 

Rowan Williams and Rowan Williams at Magdalen College School

After the service, Archbishop Rowan was taken on a tour of the school by two sacristans - students who have responsibility for the care of the chapel.  The Archbishop visited a physics lesson where he was impressed by the technology now used in schools, and the sixth form art studio, where an impressive range of A-level coursework was on display. 

Magdalen College School’s history dates back to 1480.  It was founded by William Waynflete who saw education as a facilitator of social mobility and wanted to form a school at the heart of the new university.  The links between Magdalen College School and Magdalen College, University of Oxford, remain today.  The school has a strong Christian ethos and in years gone by the Reformation martyrs William Tyndale and Thomas More, and the 16th century Anglican divine Richard Hooker, were educated there. 

So it was appropriate that the Archbishop’s visit concluded with a 6th form Theology lesson.  A-level Theology was introduced at MCS four years ago and the school has since sent 14 students to study Theology at university. This particular lesson was on ‘the problem of evil’, with the seminar taking a broad look at this challenging topic and touching on Genesis, Augustine, Milton and Dostoevsky.

Theology seminar at Magdalen College School

Theology seminar at Magdalen College School with the Revd Tess Kuin Lawton, Chaplain.

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