Highlights - September 2022
Members of the Church in Wales’ Governing Body met at the International Convention Centre Wales, Newport, on September 7-8 2022. The meeting was live-streamed and you can watch the recordings of each session, together with a short summary, below.
September 7 - Holy Eucharist
The Archbishop presided at the opening service of the Holy Eucharist on September 7.
The Revd Zöe King (Llandaff) officiated, and the Bishop of Llandaff preached at Evening Prayer on Wednesday evening.
Fr John Connell, the Worship Coordinator, led Opening Prayers on September 8.
A collection was taken for Brynawel Rehab, a residential rehabilitation centre for drug, alcohol and other dependencies near Cardiff. More details can be found at www.brynawel.org
September 7 - Session One
Welcome to visitors
The Archbishop welcomed representatives of other churches to the meeting. They were:
- Canon Malcolm Kingston, from the Church of Ireland
- The Revd Dr Stephen Wigley, from the Wales Synod of the Methodist Church
- The Revd Beti-Wyn James from Undeb yr Annibynwyr Cymraeg
- The Revd Brian Matthews, from the Presbyterian Church of Wales
- Canon Aled Edwards from Cytûn and the Covenanted Churches of Wales
The Archbishop thanked Canon Aled Edwards, who was retiring after 23 years as Chief Executive of Cytûn, for his work for the churches of Wales, his campaigning on social issues and for being an advocate of refugees. It had been a privilege to work with him, he said.
Members stood in respect to remember and give thanks for two long-standing former colleagues who had died since April.
Sylvia Scarf OBE had served for 45 years, from 1966 to 2011, firstly as a co-opted Under 30 member and then elected by Llandaff Diocese. She had only missed one meeting, when attending the Anglican Consultative Council on behalf of the Governing Body. Sylvia was also a former member of the Governing Body Chairs, the Standing Committee and Deputy Chair of the Board of Mission and former Chair of the Child Protection Committee.
Archdeacon Hywel Jones, who died in August, had served as Archdeacon of Cardigan between 1990 and 2006, when he retired both as an Archdeacon and from the Governing Body. During his time as Archdeacon he also served as Vicar of Llanychaearn with Llanddeiniol.
“As a Governing Body member, Hywel was well known and well liked not only for his dedication to such matters as maintaining standards in graveyards, but also for the jokes he frequently told when addressing the Governing Body,” said Archbishop Andrew.
A major investment in church ministry was announced by the Archbishop of Wales in his Presidential Address.
He said the Church in Wales would spend more than £100M of its capital reserves over the next decade to help its churches serve their communities more effectively. Investment would be made in development of new ministries and initiatives, as well as in strengthening existing work.
Archbishop Andrew John said it was the “most serious and significant” investment the Church had made since 1920 and he paid tribute to the Church’s trustees, the Representative Body, for their “visionary leadership” in agreeing to invest the money.
Consultations were taking place with others on the kinds of developments likely to be most fruitful.
The Archbishop also announced that a further £37M over the next 10 years would be given to ensure core church ministry was placed on a sound financial footing especially in the newer dioceses, of Monmouth and Swansea and Brecon, which lacked historic funds.
Addressing the cost-of-living crisis, Archbishop Andrew announced that the Church in Wales would be campaigning for action over the coming months. He said it was an “outrage” that so many children in the UK were living in poverty and families were depending on foodbanks to survive. He called on supermarkets to do more to help shoppers, such as tripling their range of basics to include more fresh food. He also invited churches to be “practitioners of generosity”, asking every congregation to donate 10 boxes of basics items for the foodbank distribution network during Advent.
Members were given the opportunity to respond to the Archbishop’s address. The Dean of Newport, Ian Black, was grateful to the Archbishop for highlighting the cost of living crisis.
“We are at a moment of national crisis. We all know people who are on the edge,” he said.
The Archdeacon of St Asaph, Andy Grimwood, called on the Representative Body to support churches and clergy with heating bills. “There is a fear of churches having to close because people cannot afford to heat them,” he said. “I don’t think we should be closing churches when our country is at a time of crisis – they should be kept open and perhaps be warm hubs. The RB also needs to consider some way of helping clergy with the cost of heating.”
September 7 - Session Two
Standing Committee Report
A great deal of work had been done by the Bench of Bishops and the Representative Body in forming a 10-year plan for church growth, said Dr Siȃn Miller, the chair of the Standing Committee.
The Standing Committee was working to join up the work undertaken by engaging with the Governing Body, dioceses and the wider church, she said. That process was crucial work, and the input of the Governing Body was essential to making the decisions needed to help grow the Church.
Dr Miller also highlighted the fourth joint meeting of the Bench, the Standing Committee, the Trustees of the Representative Body, the Diocesan Secretaries and Senior Provincial Staff to be held, residentially, in October. This would be a decision-making meeting drawing on discussion at the Governing Body, the discussion at a financial planning meeting held in September and the wisdom of those present. The anticipated output was a clear direction of travel, the adoption of ambitious goals, and the approval of clear mechanisms for accessing additional funds.
Dr Miller also highlighted the Monmouth Enquiry and Review Implementation Group which had been meeting regularly since it was set up in January to address the policy or procedural gaps identified by the Review.
The Standing Committee’s four recommendations were all passed. They included the adoption of the Dignity Charter as a formal policy of the Church in Wales and authorising the digitisation of parish records.
Standing Committee Report on Legal and Governance Matters
Due to the Meeting being adjourned on Thursday afternoon the Report on Legal and Governance Matters was postponed.
Five questions were asked at this meeting.
- The Revd Dr Jonathon Wright (Swansea and Brecon), on ratios between stipendiary clerics and Archdeacons and diocesan staff, answered by the Archbishop.
- Ms Cathryn Brooker (Monmouth), on the number of dioceses, answered by the Bishop of Monmouth.
- The Archdeacon of St Asaph, Andrew Grimwood, on progress of the clergy remuneration review, answered by the Deputy Chair of the Representative Body.
- The Revd Lance Sharpe (Swansea and Brecon), concerning the pay structure for clerics, answered by the Assistant Bishop in Bangor.
Bench of Bishops Report
The Church’s 10-year plan for growth had been a major part of the bishops’ discussions at their two meetings since April, said the Archbishop, giving the report of the Bench.
They had been joined for the discussion in June by the chair of the Representative Body and the chair of the Standing Committee.
Other work included preparing terms of reference for the Bench, as recommended by the Monmouth Review Implementation Group.
The recommendation that Governing Body endorse the terms for adoption was passed.
Representative Body Report
In his first report as chair of the RB, Professor Medwin Hughes said that while income had increased in 2021 it was still behind pre-pandemic levels. He warned that 2022 had been an “extremely volatile year” and the “strongest stewardship” of assets was needed. The role of the RB, however, was to support the Church and ensure funds were there to take its ambitious plans for the next decade forward.
“It is so good that we are investing in creativity and enthusiasm,” he said. “Not everything will work but the key issue is accountability and that we have tried. The RB will continue to invest and there will be a framework for accountability.”
The report was approved.
September 7 - Session Three
Diocesan presentation: Swansea and Brecon
Rural, Cathedral and city ministry featured in a film presented by the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, John Lomas.
The Dean of Brecon outlined developments at the Cathedral, including the choir, youth work and local partnerships. The Revd Andrew Perrin described his ministry to 25 churches in West Radnor Ministry Area and the challenge of covering vast areas with so few clergy.
The Revd Steve Bunting from urban Swansea showed how St Thomas’ Church had been transformed to a community hub, providing vital services for those in need, alongside its worship and ministry. Future plans included becoming a resource church for the diocese.
Cherrie Bija, CEO of the diocese’s Faith in Families, described how the charity was helping those for whom living in trauma and crisis was a normal way of life. “Our vision is that every child is able to reach their full potential and the chance to live their best possible life, to feel valued and validated,” she said.
Diocesan Director of Education, John Meredith, showed ministry in schools, including Project Touchline which aimed to develop children’s spirituality through sport.
Evangelism Officer, Mandy Bayton, introduced plans for the diocese’s centenary year.
Bishop John said, “We are packing our bags for our journey at the moment but the vision of where we are going is still blurry. We have food for nourishment, water for refreshment, the word of God to guide us and the opportunity to service.”
September 7 - Session Four
Four dioceses had so far been awarded grants from the Evangelism Fund, which was set up in 2018 with a budget of £10m, said the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, John Lomas.
Introducing an update on the projects, Bishop John, the lead bishop on evangelism, said the committee had arranged visits to all four to see them in action. The projects were very different to each other, doing different things in different contexts, he said.
The project teams in the dioceses of St Asaph and Llandaff gave short presentations on the work of their projects.
Diane McCarthy, Diocesan Secretary for St Asaph, introduced a film about Hope Street Church in Wrexham, the first project supported by the Fund. The experience and learning from it had encouraged new forms of ministry across the Diocese, she said.
Hope Street is reaching out to young people in particular, with a student drop-in, a parents and toddler group, called Bouncing Beans as well as Alpha Courses, and a men’s football group, called Bridge the Gap. In May it opened a café, called Tabernacl. “People come in for coffee and discover Jesus,” said the Revd Andy Kitchen, Senior Leader. “The investment is bearing fruit as we have seen both numerical and spiritual growth while St Giles Parish Church nearby still continues to thrive.” He added that an intern programme was about to start, which was hoped would become a “pipeline to ordination”.
“As a result of Covid, our implementation schedule is about a year behind the plan but we’re still looking to plant out our first new church in 2024.”
This delay, however, hadn’t stopped the Diocese learning lessons from Hope Street and creating mission hub churches in existing buildings in Mold, Penrhyn Bay, Welshpool and Holywell, to re-energise congregations and support growth. “The learning from Hope Street has helped shape our Diocesan values: Growing Faith, Bringing Hope and Demonstrating Love. We hope this investment will bless the whole diocese and the province,” said Mrs McCarthy.
Llandaff Diocese’s project also focused on young people with the setting up of the Young Faith Matters initiative, which included Flourish, a Christian project for schools, and a new church in the centre of Cardiff, Citizen Church.
The Revd Mark Simpson, associate vicar at Citizen Church, said growth had been “remarkable” with 500 people now attending. The aim was to change the stereotypes young people had of church and to make them feel included and that they belonged. The family-focused Sunday morning service was outgrowing its space. The evening service was aimed at young people and always ended with pizza. Church plants were being set up, as well as an internship programme. Hang-outs were held every evening. Meanwhile, its popular coffee van had been used to train four asylum seekers for work.
University of Wales Trinity Saint David report
This year marked the bicentenary of the university, which was originally St David’s College, a church institution in Lampeter. For the first time, its vice-chancellor was also chair of the Representative Body – Professor Medwin Hughes.
“We’ve been partying to celebrate our 200th birthday – celebrating the lifelong commitment of an Anglican college,” he said, presenting his report. It was a time to look forward, as well as back, focusing on transforming education and lives, developing a professional network in Wales and investing in technical universities.
“Education can change lives. Fifteen per cent of all primary-age children in Wales are in church schools — what an opportunity to develop a network of professional Christian teachers,” said Prof Hughes.
Seconding the report, Archbishop Andrew congratulated Professor Hughes on his time as vice-chancellor and thanked him for his leadership which had made an “enormous contribution”.
The motion that the report be received was passed.
Lambeth Conference report
One-to-one conversations with other bishops proved to be the most rewarding part of this year’s Lambeth Conference, said Archbishop Andrew, presenting his report, God’s Church for God’s World.
He related two stories of bishops he had met who were facing huge, and life-threatening challenges in their dioceses in South Sudan and Liberia. “The energy was in the conversations we had as we learnt what it was like to be a Christian in other parts of the world. Please pray for those bishops and their churches,” he said.
Year of Prayer
A year-long prayer journey to develop people’s spiritual lives was launched by Bishop John Lomas, chair of the Spirituality Group.
From meditations and reflections to prayer walks and labyrinths, each month people are guided through different ways of praying, either alone or with others, with a series of online resources. The prayers offered are a mix of prayer for our personal journey and prayer for the wider community and world. Each month has a theme, a Bible passage, a reflection, a particular way of prayer and suggestions for music, art and books for further prayer.
Bishop John invited everyone to take part. He said, “Prayer not only helps to deepen our faith, but takes us beyond ourselves to the wider world. To sit quietly at home in prayer has been shown to help improve our general well-being. It is a time to bring to God whatever we feel we need to say. I am very pleased to be able to invite you, and encourage you, to join in a Year of Prayer. It opens up, very simply, a different approach to prayer each month. Some you may be familiar with, some you may like, some may be new, some may not be the right way for you. Importantly, it is to pray in the way you are most comfortable with.”
- Join in the Year of Prayer at www.churchinwales.org.uk/yearofprayer
September 8 - Session Five
Future plans for the Church in Wales
Accountable, fruitful and ground-breaking – those were the three principles identified by the Archbishop as he introduced the conversation on the 10-year investment plan for the Church.
He described the Representative Body’s £100m commitment as a “visionary gift”, saying, “The potential for us to do more than we have been able to do, perhaps in our history, is before us today. The magnitude of what we are committing ourselves to today cannot be overstated. Spend is not the issue but if we find a way of making visible heaven on earth then surely we will have done something truly beautiful.”
Archbishop Andrew emphasised the need for a “blended approach” where one tradition or polity was not pitted against another. “Growth in new disciples must be the prism through which we view our future investment.” Churches would learn from each other, rather than compete, and a strong line of accountability would mean no need to fear failure. “A mature church which sees something is not bearing fruit has no problem cutting it down and casting it in the fire,” he said. “We ought to learn so our learning forms better practice.”
Professor Medwin Hughes, chair of the RB, outlined the scale of the investment. He emphasised that it was the RB’s role to manage the investment while the decisions on how the money would be spent were led by the bishops. He paid tribute to the stewardship of previous generations who had looked after the funds, which now totalled £1,134m.
“Stewardship means looking after what works well now. Within our tradition there are clergy who are working so hard to keep the community of faith across Wales and we need to respect that. There are also great opportunities to resource in a way that stimulates growth and allows flourishment.”
He urged members to develop plans that respected the diversity of dioceses, developed numerical and spiritual growth, improved missional and organisational effectiveness and would be accountable for future generations.
He said, “Now is the time, the opportunity, in the spirit of the living God, to invest and create new resources. We have the resources and the will. We all feel Christ is calling us to a very exciting era for the Church in Wales.”
A coordinated strategy had four strands, said Prof Hughes:
- The proclamation of the Gospel in Wales;
- The witness of Christ’s truth in our various communities;
- The ability to build new communities that demonstrate the importance of social righteousness;
- The creation of active discipleships.
“That is the opportunity that God is calling us to and the commitment of the RB is to support that work.”
September 8 - Session Six
Discussions on future plans
Members divided into three discussion groups, focusing on key questions about the future plans for the Church, before feeding back in plenary.
Group One looked at what it meant to become a growth church. They agreed with the need to be strategic and intentional about growth. More “boots on the ground” and the need to offer specialised ministry were seen as priorities. Barriers faced included competitiveness between dioceses and an attachment to buildings which prevented people travelling.
Group two focused on how church buildings could support evangelism. It was agreed that buildings take a great deal of energy, money and anxiety and more support and advice on grant applications and sustainability were needed. However, many churches were important resources in communities and should be open most of the time and functioning in ways which furthered mission.
Group three discussed ways of being more confident in sharing faith. They acknowledged anxiety and embarrassment about offending, being misunderstood, scared of not being able to answer questions or it not being their role. There was a need to develop different ways of talking to different groups.
The following plenary discussion raised further points from members. These included: the need for ecumenical partnerships to grow all churches; overcoming competition by ensuring money was distributed proportionately; training for lay people; better statistics awareness to ensure we knew what we were counting and that we were counting the right thing; recognition of the Welsh language; and the need to trust in God and to pray.
Archbishop Andrew thanked members for sharing their ideas. “All will be collated and used to inform our next meetings so we can make faithful and intelligent plans,” he said.
Biblical literacy – Bible Society presentation
In Britain today there was a loss of hope in the Bible, said Professor Paul Williams, CEO of the Bible Society, in a presentation to members.
He reminded them that the Bible Society had its roots in Wales, following the young Mary Jones’ 26 mile walk to get a Bible from the Revd Thomas Charles in Bala. The experience had changed his life and led to the formation of the Society in 1804.
However today we had become ignorant of the Bible and didn’t teach it. “We fought over it and then forgot it,” said Mr Williams. “But God is at work in our world and there is nothing inevitable about decline.”
The Bible Society, he said, was focused now on building confidence in the Bible and changing the conversation about it in wider society.
Nigel Langford, director of domestic mission at the Bible Society, described its partnerships and resources, which included a family edition of the Good News Bible and Bibles for Ukraine refugees.
The meeting was adjourned after session six, following the announcement of Her Majesty The Queen’s ill-health. The Archbishop ended with prayers for her and the National Anthem was sung.
Date of next meeting
The next full meeting will take place on April 19-20 at Venue Cymru, Llandudno