27/09/2012 14:29 BST | Updated 01/10/2012 10:13 BST

Archbishop Of Canterbury Contenders: From Blogging Bishops To A Sun Columnist, Who The Favourite To Succeed Williams?

From a "blogging bishop" to a Sun columnist, the race to find the new Archbishop of Canterbury has begun.

There are seven possible contenders for the role, including a former Russian translator for GCHQ and a man who wants to make St George's Day a national holiday.

However ambitious clerics should take note: Dr Williams warned his successor would need “the constitution of an ox and the skin of a rhinoceros."

The new candidate will need to steer the 77 million Anglicans through thorny issues such as same-sex marriage and female bishops.

One contender has already admitted he was “hoping and praying to God” he was not put forward.

Dr Wiliams is certainly a hard act to follow, with the formidable Anglican as notorious for his political commentary as he is for his capricious eyebrows.

So who might be the next head of the Church of England? Check out the front runners below.

Justin Welby, Bishop of Durham

In a nutshell: former oil executive and Old Etonian. ‘The banker bishop’

What goes in his favour? Self depreciating. Once described himself as “one of the thicker bishops in the Church of England.”

Not just interested in theological issues: is also on the parliamentary commission on banking standards investigating the Libor scandal. Backed by Giles Fraser, “the loose cannon”, who writes for the Guardian.

What counts against him? Lack of experience: has only been a Bishop for a year.

Attitudes towards same-sex marriage and female bishops: strongly in favour of female bishops. Opposed to same sex marriage.

Media savvy? Yes (like Semantu, he’s even got a blue tick by his twitter account)

Eyebrow style: inquisitive (not inquisitor, repeat not inquisitor)

Other facts of note: His ancestors were German Jewish immigrants who escaped a 19th-century pogrom and has five children.

Rt Rev Christopher Cocksworth, 53, Bishop of Coventry

In a nutshell: The ‘baby bishop’: youngest ever diocesan bishop and a mere slip of a thing compared with some of the more senior candidates.

What goes in his favour? An evangelist who is liked by liberals. Bookies favourite.

What counts against him? Age before beauty. An unknown quantity on homosexuality and female bishops. Unfortunate name.

Attitudes towards same sex-marriage and female bishops: has skirted around issue.

Media savvy? Has given few interviews. No twitter account, blog or Facebook profile.

Eyebrow style: Spectacular (or rather, emphasised by glasses)

Other facts of note: Once cycled round his diocese in five days to meet his congregation.

The Most Rev Dr John Sentamu, 63, Archbishop of York,

In a nutshell: Ugandan hardline archbishop, would be the first black Archbishop of Canterbury if elected.

What goes in his favour? Charismatic, in many ways the natural successor to Dr Williams as the most senior man in the church after Dr Williams.

What counts against him? Marmite personality: some adore his outspoken, hands on nature, while others believe he is too outspoken. His hardline attitude towards same-sex marriage risks isolating the church further. Concerns raised over recent health issues.

Attitudes towards same sex-marriage and female bishops: Supports civil partnership but believes marriage should be between a man and a woman. Has suggested female bishops may work but with some caveats.

Media savvy? Very, although his appearances have sometimes sparked controversy. He once cut up his dog collar live on TV in a protest against Robert Mugabe. Has over 27,000 followers on Twitter and is a columnist for the Sun. Often tweets out his “thought for the day” for Today programme. Has a sense of humour on Facebook (see below picture of nuns and balloons)

Playful: Dr Sentamu has this as his profile picture for some time

Eyebrow style: Grey and groomed

Other facts of note: Wants to make St George’s day a national holiday to "counteract political extremism." Served on the inquiry into racist murder of Stephen Lawrence and chaired review into the killing of 10-year-old Damilola Taylor in south London in 2000.

Admitted in 2010 had been stopped and searched eight times by the police. He added:

"When the policeman suddenly realises that a middle-aged bishop is unlikely to be committing some crime, that has not stopped me being stopped and searched.”

Rt Rev James Jones, 64, Bishop of Liverpool

In a nutshell: The outsider: Rowan Williams pipped him to the post in 2003.

What goes in his favour? Praised for his role charing the independent panel into the Hillsborough disaster. Whilst investigating the disaster he kept on his desk a photograph of the stadium at 2.59pm on the day of the tragedy and the names of the 96 people who died.

What counts against him? Poor health: he had heart surgery last year. He is also one of the older bishops.

Attitudes towards same sex-marriage and female bishops: Has come out in support of gay relationships after originally opposing the appointment of gay cleric Jeffrey John. He since apologised to Dr John and his partner for "adding to their pain and distress". Has pointed out Biblical examples of love between two people of the same gender.

Media savvy? A former TV producer who often writes BBC Radio 4's "thought for the day"

Eyebrow style Dignified

Other facts of note: A champion of urban regeneration. Big on green issues and sustainability.

Rt Rev Richard Chartres, 65, Bishop of London

In a nutshell: A right royal bishop

What goes in his favour? He’s been successful in increasing the size of his congregation, is interested in green issues and supported Occupy London. Friends with Prince Charles and was praised for his “amazing” sermon at Kate and Wills wedding.

What counts against him? Very conservative clergyman. Rather old: At 65 the compulsory retirement age of 70 for clergy would have to be extended to allow him to preside over the 2018 Lambeth Conference, the once-a-decade gathering of Anglican bishops from around the world.

Attitudes towards same-sex marriage and female bishops: Against female bishops . Absolutely against same-sex marriage and does not believe in civil partnership. Despite his hardline attitude towards homosexuality has said he will “not start witch hunts”

Media savvy? Merely a very old Linkedin profile. Unafraid of striking a suitably theatric theological pose (see above.)

Eyebrow style: Jack Nicholson, circa Shining

Other facts of note: Has warned of an "epidemic of promiscuity, separation and divorce"

Rt Rev Nick Baines, 54, Bishop of Bradford

In a nutshell: Also known as “the blogging bishop” people often forget that he also worked for four years at UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) before entering the ministry.

What goes in his favour? Super-media savvy, with a broadcasting background and a well-read blog and twitter feed.

What counts against him?

Attitudes towards same sex-marriage and female bishops Has resisted any outright opposition to gay marraige saying it is important to "dig deep" over the issue. Has written on his blog:

“Well, despite my protestations that the bulk of our preoccupations have nothing to do with sex or conflict, the House of Bishops spent 95 per cent of its meeting this week doing sex and women (bishops).”

Media savvy? Very. No blue tick, but tweets include clerical nuggets such as:

Has twice received a commendation in the Andrew Cross Awards for religious broadcasting.

Eyebrow style Thoughtful.

Other: Proud Liverpudlian. Has a degree in French and German. Loves Bob Dylan. A former Russian translator for GCHQ, who knows what secrets he has?

Rt Rev Graham James, Bishop of Norwich

In a nutshell: The reluctant bishop

What goes in his favour? Not too young, not too old (by relative standards) Perceived as having the “common touch”

Has been chaplain to Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey before. Third favourite, according to bookies.

What counts against him? Told the BBC he was “hoping and praying” not to be picked. Described the role as “massively demanding” with “lots expectation, but relatively little power and executive authority.”

Attitudes towards same-sex marriage and female bishops: supports civil partnerships, claims gay marriage would Completely in favour of female bishops.

Media savvy? The Church of England's lead spokesman on media issues, but has been criticised for not being charismatic enough.

Eyebrow style: cheerfully conspiratorial

Other facts of note: He chairs the BBC's Standing Conference on Religion and Belief.