Highlights - April 2022
Members of the Church in Wales’ Governing Body met at the International Convention Centre Wales, Newport, on April 27-28. The meeting was live-streamed and you can watch the recordings of each session, together with a short summary, below.
April 27 - Session One
Archbishop Andrew John presided at the opening service of the Holy Eucharist.
During the service, he invested three metropolitical Canons, the Revd Professor Dr Jeremy Duff, Principal of St Padarn’s Institute, the Revd Dr Ainsley Griffiths, Director of Faith Order and Unity and Simon Lloyd, Provincial Secretary.
Tributes to former Standing Committee Chair
Members stood in tribute to the former chair of the Standing Committee, Lis Perkins, who had died on Easter Day.
A longstanding member of the Committee, Lis had served as its Chair between 2016 and 2020, the first woman to hold that role. She remained a member until October last year.
During her time, Lis also served on a number of other committees, including the Implementation Group which advised on the recommendations of the 2012 Church in Wales Review and the Centenary Committee which led plans to celebrate the Church’s centenary in 2020.
She remained very involved in the life of her parish in Menai Bridge, organising an annual music festival, and she was also the Fair Trade Champion for Bangor Diocese.
The Archbishop of Wales called for the Russian Orthodox Church to condemn the war in Ukraine in his Presidential Address.
Archbishop Andrew John said Russia’s unprovoked attack was “deplorable” and backed calls for the Russian church to condemn the killing of civilians, press for an immediate ceasefire and demand an end to the war.
The Archbishop also addressed challenges facing the Church in Wales and outlined bold and ambitious proposals for the next decade in order to meet them.
The priorities would be discipleship and evangelism and there would be “new and substantial” investment from central funds, delivered in a way to enable dioceses to budget ahead with greater security.
The bishops were also exploring ways of working more together for the whole church, rather than for their own diocese. Current structures were being examined to see if they were enabling ambitious goals to be realised.
April 27 - Session Two
Standing Committee Report
A new mandate for mission and evangelism had been agreed by the Standing Committee, said its chair, Dr Siȃn Miller, presenting the report.
The Committee had agreed to approve and adopt the Bench’s recommendation for the new mandate, to affirm its decision to do work on the purpose, ambition, values and goals of the Church and to invite reports of these actions before the end of 2022.
Dr Miller also highlighted the Monmouth Enquiry and Review. An implementation group was being appointed to advise on a process and timetable for acting on the recommendations. It would be chaired by Tim Llewelyn and would include Bishop Tim Thornton, the former Bishop of Truro and Bishop at Lambeth as an independent member.
The Standing Committee’s recommendations were all passed.
Standing Committee Report on Legal and Governance Matters
Canon Steven Kirk, chair of the Drafting Sub-committee, outlined the report’s four recommendations for amending and correcting the Constitution. The first three were passed but the fourth - an amendment to clarify who the Archbishop’s Registrar was and how they were appointed - was referred back to the Standing Committee for further clarification about retirement and resignation.
Bench of Bishops’ Report
Archbishop Andrew outlined a 10-year plan to nurture new disciples and enable ministry and mission areas to flourish.
More money was being released by the trustees and the way it was being distributed to dioceses was changing. Details were still being worked out but he thanked the RB for its energy and commitment.
The Archbishop welcomed the appointment of the two new bishops, John Lomas, the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, and Mary Stallard, the Assistant Bishop in Bangor. Bishop John had the portfolio for evangelism, growth and pioneer networks and Bishop Mary for education.
Referring to the Monmouth Review, Archbishop Andrew acknowledged it had been a difficult matter and an unsettling time. He said the Church had responded quickly in setting up an implementation group and getting outside scrutiny “so we are not marking our own homework”.
April 27 - Session Three
Bishop Cherry Vann had led the diocese through a period of positive and essential change, said the Diocesan Secretary Isabel Thompson, introducing a presentation from the diocese.
She paid tribute to the “extraordinary” work of the Ministry Area Transition teams which had meant nearly half of the Ministry Areas had now been commissioned, despite the challenges of the pandemic and, prior to that, a long period of uncertainty and unease. She also thanked clergy and staff in other dioceses who had shared their experiences and resources to make the “huge challenge” achievable.
Bishop Cherry outlined the diocesan vision which was based on the Anglican Communion’s five marks of mission. Under the banner, Faith In Our Future, the themes were: Discipleship, Stewardship, Social Justice, Equality and Diversity and Creation and the Environment.
She said the vision document would be launched at the Diocesan Conference this year and would form the bases of the diocesan bid for the Evangelism Fund.
The Archdeacon of Monmouth, Ian Rees, introduced five films to reflect each theme of the vision from around the diocese.
Concluding the presentation, Bishop Cherry said, “The Diocese of Monmouth is a very different place to the one that I came to just over two years ago. I too can say that I’m proud of the way in which the clergy, LLMs and congregations of the diocese have come together, moved on from what was a most difficult time of turmoil and distress and are now looking forward to what we believe in the exciting future that God has in store for us.”
April 27 - Session Four
St Padarn’s Institute Report
The past few months had seen the renewing of the strategic direction of St Padarn’s Institute as it responded to the Church’s change of direction, said its Principal, the Revd Prof Jeremy Duff.
It aimed to ensure that the mission and ministry of the Church sat together at its heart. “We are mindful that growing churches and servicing communities is tough,” he said. “So our support services have to be top notch.”
Seconding the motion to receive the report, the Bishop of Monmouth, Cherry Vann, paid tribute to the work of the staff for all they had achieved during the “most challenging” year of St Padarn’s history, due to the pandemic lockdowns.
She drew attention to a few of the report’s findings. The majority of those training for ministry were now female – 70% - which came after years of concern of gender imbalance in licensed ministries. There were also more candidates under the age of 50 than over.
However, she said the low number of Lay Licensed Ministers coming forward remained a concern.
The motion to note the report was passed.
Five questions were asked at this meeting:
- Huw Marshall, on common practical problems - answered by the Provincial Secretary, Simon Lloyd
- Dan Priddy, on energy use in the Church in Wales, answered by the Head of Property Services, Alex Glanville
- The Very Revd Ian Black, on the Monmouth Enquiry and review, answered by Tim Llewelyn
- The Revd Dr Jonathon Wright, on strategic vision, answered by the Archbishop
- Sir Paul Silk, concerning the Russian Orthodox Church membership of the World Council of Churches, answered by the Bishop of St Asaph.
April 28 - Session Five
Climate Change motion
Presenting a framework document for the Church to reach its net zero carbon target, the Bishop of St Davids, Joanna Penberthy, said it was a “working document”.
Its purpose was to set out a trajectory for all parts of the church and its recommendations would be regularly reviewed and updated, providing a chance to learn from experience. We were not in the field of “aspirations, hopes and wishes”, said Bishop Joanna. Rather we were doing the work to put our hopes for the planet into action. She emphasized that, as a community of faith, our response to the climate emergency was rooted in our responsibility for stewardship and therefore the Framework began with a prayer.
Members discussed the Framework in groups and a feedback session was led by Alex Glanville, Head of Property Services, and Julia Edwards, Climate Change Champion.
The motion was seconded by Dan Priddy (St Davids). He urged the Church to embrace the Framework passionately – not just to accept it - and to engage with it at all levels.
The motion was passed:
That the Governing Body
i) Endorse the Framework for Net Zero Carbon, subject to the key points from the group work, and
ii) Urge all levels of the Church to embrace and adopt the Framework to enable us to realise our net zero carbon ambitions.
April 28 - Session Six and Seven
Church Schools Presentation
The Welsh Government Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, had been due to open the presentation on schools but had to pull out for personal reasons. Instead, members heard from the chief executive of the National Society, the Revd Nigel Genders, who described the work of the NS and its relationship with the Church.
Bishop Mary Stallard – a former school chaplain - introduced the presentation which she said was a “great opportunity for Governing Body to celebrate the wonderful work of our schools”. She pointed out that more than 26,000 children were educated in the Church in Wales’ 146 schools – “a phenomenal number of young people we embrace in our communities”. She paid tribute to school staff for their commitment and hard work, particularly during the pandemic. She also thanked the diocesan education teams and members of schools’ governing bodies.
The Provincial Director of Education, Elizabeth Thomas, said the new schools’ curriculum for Wales was “one of the most significant reforms of education for decades”.
Religious Education was now part of Religion, Values and Ethics, which fell under Humanities. Mrs Thomas outlined the Church’s supporting guidance for the teaching of RVE, which had been produced with the support of the Welsh Government. She stressed that the Church was committed to supporting teachers and also to sharing research to develop the curriculum further. The diocesan teams had also worked collaboratively on resources for schools to support RVE.
Pupils from St David’s Church in Wales School, Cardiff, used their language skills to perform a new song of the Lord’s Prayer in Anglo-Saxon, Welsh and English, conducted by the composer Tim Riley.
The school had recently become the first in Monmouth Diocese to achieve School of Sanctuary status for its commitment to welcoming refugees and the Bishop of Monmouth, Cherry Vann, presented the pupils with the award. “We are proud of you, proud of the witness you are providing in caring for the stranger, and proud that you, our young people, are leading the way and setting an example for us all,” she said.
An emergency debate on the war in Ukraine was prompted by a question from Sir Paul Silk (co-opted) earlier in the meeting. Sir Paul had wanted to know how the Church in Wales intended to respond to the call issued by the Ukrainian Institute for Religious Freedom, and other Ukrainian civil society organisations, for the World Council of Churches to exclude the Russian Orthodox Church from membership.
In his response the Bishop of St Asaph, Gregory Cameron, proposed Sir Paul join him in bringing an emergency motion - not to call for the expulsion of the Russian Church, but for the WCC to distance itself from the Russian Church and any other church which supported the invasion of Ukraine.
The motion was seconded by Sir Paul and passed unanimously.
Motion: “That the Governing Body of the Church in Wales do call upon the World Council of Churches to take clear and appropriate action to distance the Council from the actions of those member churches, including the Russian Orthodox Church, who have given support to the unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine by the Russian Federation, and call upon all Christians to stand with the oppressed and to do all in their power to work for peace.”
A Bill to authorise and regulate minor variations to authorised liturgies was passed.
A collection was taken for Christian Aid’s Ukraine Appeal. Funds were given via a dedicated code direct to Christian Aid. The total raised, including Gift Aid, was £471.36.
The Governing Body welcomed Mari McNeill, head of Christian Aid Wales and Dr Nathan Munday, church engagement and fundraising officer for Wales. Christian Aid had an exhibition table at the meeting.
The Governing Body will return to ICC Wales for its next meeting on September 7-8.