Donald Coggan , who died on 17 May,2000, aged 90, was the first 20th-century Archbishop of Canterbury to come fromthe church’s evangelical wing.During his primacy, from 1974 to 1980, he met the Pontiff,was a prolific writer and also founded the Lord Coggan Memorial Fund which helped to supply Russian children with copies of the Bible.He was well-known for his warm welcome and quiet manner, andonce famously remarked that, “The art of hospitality is to make guests feel athome when you wish they were.”At the time, he seemed to have made little impact on thewider life of the nation, but in an era much more hostile to establishedreligion, many church people would now view his archiepiscopate as something ofa golden age.Frederick Donald Coggan was bornon 23 December, 1909, in Highgate, London. He studied Oriental Languages at Cambridge’s St. John’s College from1928-1931 and graduated with an impressive double first.That same year, he took up a post as lecturer in Semiticlanguages at the University of Manchester. In 1935, he was ordained as a priest and later academic positions atToronto’s Anglican Wycliffe College and London College of Divinity rendered hisfuture within the Church increasingly promising.In 1965, he was made Archbishop of York and, less than tenyears later, became the 101st Archbishop of Canterbury. His comparatively brief tenure as archbishopwas particularly noted for his strong support for the ordination of women.He was also respected for his orderliness, boldness and dedication.Aside from his duties as archbishop, he was also Honoury President of the United Bible Societies from 1957 until1976. His excellent knowledge of thescriptures enabled him to make an important contribution to the furthering ofthe organisation.On his retirement as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1980 he waselevated to a life peerage and made Baron Coggan , ofCanterbury and Sissinghurst in the County of Kent.He died on 17 May, 2000, at the age of 90. His was cremated, with his ashes buried atCanterbury Cathedral.While he remained committed to the authority of Scripture inmatters of faith and conduct, he ultimately sought rational interpretation and,rather than simply following tradition, recognised for instance the cause ofthe ordination of women.His passion, dedication and outstanding scholarship remainan inspiration for many. He wrote over20 books during his lifetime and brought to the Church a sense of unity andcooperation.
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