A famous poet and a former Archbishop, both born exactly a 100 years ago, can still inspire the church as it faces major decisions, the Archbishop of Wales said today (SEPT 11).
RS Thomas, a parish priest, and former Archbishop of Wales, Gwilym Owen (“G.O.”) Williams, were two remarkable people who made their mark on their church and their country and have lessons for us today, Dr Morgan said.
The Archbishop celebrated both men in his Presidential Address to members of the Church’s Governing Body at the start of its two day meeting at University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Lampeter.
Dr Morgan paid tribute to Archbishop Gwilym’s fight for the Welsh language, noting that he helped secure an independent broadcasting channel for Wales, S4C, as well as promoting Welsh in the Church in Wales and overseeing the translation of the Bible into modern Welsh.
He said, “G O of course, was prominent in the national life of Wales…..He was a doughty fighter for the rights of the Welsh language in a bilingual church. He led from the front and was ahead of his diocese in its thinking and introduced new ideas about ministry and mission so that Bangor became a pioneering diocese in many ways. He was also ahead of his time as far as the province was concerned too.”
Meanwhile RS Thomas’ poetry has had a world-wide impact, the Archbishop said. And it is his desire to focus simply on God and his acknowledgement that no one can know God’s will and purpose, that we should bear in mind today.
Dr Morgan said, “There is no doubt that he (RS) has helped thousands of people in their quest for a faith that can stand the rigour of intellectual scrutiny and it is about some of those aspects of faith raised in his poetry by him that I want to speak. They are very relevant for our present discussions as a Governing Body, as we wrestle with various issues, whatever our views on these issues. We all have a tendency to think that when we speak, God is bound to be on our side of the argument and approves of our particular viewpoint. Some of his poetry and his writings are a powerful antidote to that.”
RS Thomas, the Archbishop said, reminds us that God is a mystery. “There are no trite, simplistic answers just a conviction that God’s nature is love.”
His poetry also addresses the nature of prayer, vocation and faith.
“Thomas is also, to my mind, a poet of hope,” Dr Morgan said. “We, as a church, can sometimes be obsessed with statistics and attendance figures and worried that our influence is not as it once was. He reminds us for how long and how deeply the Christian faith has influenced this country’s life. We should not be discouraged he says.”
You can read the Archbishop’s full address at http://www.churchinwales.org.uk/structure/bishops/sermons-and-addresses-archbishop-barry-morgan/presidential-address-governing-body-september-2013/