THE next Bishop of Durham yesterday told how the pain of losing his first-born child led to him turning his back on a career as an oil executive.
Justin Welby, who will become one of the most influential figures in the Church of England, said the death of his baby daughter had strengthened his faith and inspired him to join the clergy.
At his unveiling as Bishop Designate, in the cloisters of Durham Cathedral yesterday, the 55-year-old Old Etonian committed to supporting the campaign to bring the Lindisfarne Gospels “home”, backed by his predecessors.
The father-of-five revealed he brokered multi-billion pound oil deals as group treasurer of Enterprise Oil during the 1980s, before he joined the church.
Dr Welby said the death of Johanna, in a road accident in France in 1983 when she was just seven-months-old, had drawn his family closer to their faith.
“It was a very dark time for my wife Caroline and myself, but in a strange way it actually brought us closer to God,” he said.
After the tragedy, Dr Welby continued in the oil business and by 1987 had moved to the top of the oil finance industry, but chose to resign.
He said: “After five years at Enterprise, it became clear that I would have to focus either on a career or on the Holy Trinity Brompton, where I was working in South Kensington, London.”
From earning huge amounts of money, he and his growing family had to scrape by on the stipend of a junior clergyman.