Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher (1945-1961)
Geoffrey Francis Fisher, Baron Fisher of Lambeth, GCVO, PC (5 May 1887 – 15 September 1972) was an English Anglican priest, and 99th Archbishop of Canterbury, serving from 1945 to 1961.
From a long line of parish priests, Fisher was educated at Marlborough College and Exeter College, Oxford. He achieved high academic honours but was not interested in a university career. He was ordained priest in 1913, and taught at Marlborough for three years; in 1914, aged 27, he was appointed headmaster of Repton School where he served for 18 years. In 1932, having left Repton, he was made Bishop of Chester. In 1939 he accepted the post of Bishop of London, the third most senior post in the Church of England. His term of office began shortly after the start of the Second World War, and his organising skills were required to keep the diocese functioning despite the devastation of the London Blitz.
In 1944, the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple died suddenly, and Fisher was chosen to succeed him. He served from 1945 to 1961. One of the main themes of his time in office was church unity. He worked continually to build bridges to other Christian churches, and in 1960 became the first Archbishop of Canterbury to meet a Pope since the English Reformation, more than four centuries earlier. He overhauled the administration of the Church of England, strengthened international ties with other Anglican churches, and spoke out on a range of topical issues, from divorce to homosexuality, and the Suez crisis to nuclear disarmament.
Theologically, Fisher was nearer the Evangelical wing of the Church than the Anglo-Catholic, but strongly believed that neither had a monopoly of religious truth. His predecessor and his successor at Canterbury – Temple and Michael Ramsey – were known for scholarly spirituality; Fisher was distinguished by a simple faith combined with outstanding organisational flair. In 1961 he retired from Canterbury and for the first time in his life became a parish priest, serving as honorary curate of a country parish in Dorset. He died in 1972, aged 85.