Highlights - September 2023
Members of the Church in Wales’ Governing Body met at the International Convention Centre Wales in Newport, on 5 and 6 September . The meeting was live-streamed and you can watch the recordings of each session, together with a short summary, below.
Click on the Session
Day 1 - 5 September
- Welcome to visitors
- Presidential Address
- Question Time
- Priorities, Growth and Resilience
- Bill to reform the Archbishop’s Electoral College and the Bishops’ Electoral Colleges
- Amendment to Chapter V Regulations
Day 2 - 6 September
- Opening Prayers
- Plenary discussion following discussion groups
- Ministry Areas as Charitable Incorporated Organisations
- Private Member’s Motion
- Ecumenical Relationships video and questions
- Report of the Standing Committee
- Report of the Standing Committee on Legal and Governance Matters
- President’s Charge
- Date and place of next meeting
Day 1: 5 September
Worship was coordinated by the Revd James Tout.
Holy Eucharist and Evening Prayer on Tuesday and Opening Prayers on Wednesday were held in the conference room.
Welcome to visitors
The Archbishop welcomed guests and representatives from other churches. These included the Revd Siôn Brynach, chief executive of Cytûn, the Revd Andrew Charlesworth, chair of Wales Synod Cymru the Methodist Church, the Revd Brian Matthews from the Presbyterian Church of Wales, Sheran Harper, World-wide President of the Mothers’ Union and Jennie Weaver, engagement and fundraising officer for Christian Aid Cymru.
The Archbishop encouraged the dioceses to “break new ground” in their plans for evangelism, using the new funding made available by the Representative Body.
He said there could be a “wide expression” of ways the money could be spent, but each bid would have to retain that “essential character of witnessing to the good news in Jesus Christ.”
He added that “a mixed ecology of outreach” would provide a more significant platform to share hope across Wales, which might include initiatives from Ministry Areas, opportunities through baptisms, funerals or weddings, pioneering projects or even church planting.
Archbishop Andrew drew parallels with the story of Nehemiah who planned to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
He said a provincial recruitment strategy was needed to find new people to join the work of the Church.
He also said the existing workforce in Mission and Ministry Areas needed enormous support to maintain a “resilient and missional mindset” in a challenging environment.
He commended the work of the newly formed Working Priorities Group which was reviewing the Church’s central governance structure and also seeking to identify key ministerial factors which allow Ministry Areas to flourish.
Meanwhile, the Diocesan/Provincial Learning Community was an example of the “new culture of support for one another across the dioceses.” The group, which meets for the first time in October, will bring together exemplars from across the province in a listen and learn exercise to share best practise.
The Archbishop also announced an all-Wales climate summit hosted by the Church in Wales next year, focusing on the health of Wales’ waterways and landscape.
The two-day event will bring together academics, activists, pressure groups and stakeholders to discuss the impact of industry, agriculture and homes on the environment.
Wales, he said, had “the opportunity to redesign our approach to energy, water, land use and the sustainability of food supply and at a local level” and the Church on Wales was well placed to bring people together in “good conversation and partnership”.
Archbishop Andrew highlighted the Church’s own journey to net zero carbon which had made good early progress. He appealed for churches to use the Energy Footprint Tool, challenging them to complete it by Christmas.
- Read the full address here: Presidential Address
Members were given the opportunity to respond to the address.
Question Time - There were six questions:
Bench of Bishops report
The Bishop of Monmouth, Cherry Vann , presented the report on behalf of the Bench of Bishops.
She summarised the report and commented on its key areas, before inviting any member of the Governing Body to ask any questions they had or to comment on any part of the Report.
Tony Mullins, elected lay member for Llandaff Diocese, brought up the issue of looking after the fabric of churches. Volunteers, he said, were weighed down with concerns for the maintenance of buildings.
Bishop Cherry advised that the Bench was concerned and that they and the staff of the Representative Body were looking carefully at what the Church needed from buildings into the future.
There were no other questions or comments from members.
Representative Body report and accounts
Presenting the report, Professor Medwin Hughes, chair of the RB, said 2022 had been an exciting year for taking decisions for the future direction of the Church. But it had also been a terrible year for the financial markets. He assured members that a very close eye was being kept on the funds and that the role of the RB was not to plan but to serve and support the Church and to make sure there was sufficient money to take its exciting plans forward.
On the Clergy Renumeration Review, Prof Hughes acknowledged that the work was taking a long time, but it was important to get it right. Advice had been taken from pension specialists and it was hoped the work would be taken forward in the next couple of months.
The motion that the report be approved was passed.
University of Wales Trinity Saint David report
Having been in the job for just one day, the new Vice Chancellor, Prof Elwen Evans KC, commended the UWTSD report to members. It illustrated, she said, the university’s absolute commitment to its Christian tradition and to the Church in Wales – from its roots more than 200 years ago as St David’s College, to its close relationship to St Padarn’s Institute today. Prof Evans also paid tribute to her predecessor, Prof Medwin Hughes.
Priorities, Growth and Resilience
Members were updated on specific areas of work relating to the 10-year plan, before dividing into groups to discuss them. Tim Llewelyn, chair of the Standing Committee, described the Priorities Working Group, the Archbishop outlined the progress of the Church Growth Fund Allocation Group, Professor Medwin Hughes reported on the Distribution of Funds Working Group and Dr Heather Payne invited discussion on the future format of Governing Body meetings. The groups considered the following questions for more than an hour:
- When you first joined the Governing Body what did you expect and how close is reality to that expectation?
- What, at the Governing Body, should we start doing, stop doing and continue doing?
- What is your reaction to the priorities for the Church in Wales as set out by the Archbishop?
- What is the best way the Representative Body and Diocese can support mission and ministry in your local area?
- What stops us from growing?
- If you had a one-to-one with the Archbishop, what would you say to him?
Bill to reform the Archbishop’s Electoral College and the Bishops’ Electoral Colleges
Governing Body was required to go into a committee stage in order to discuss the Bill before voting on it. Judge Andrew Keyser, KC, was appointed as chair of the committee and he invited Moira Randall, chair of the Select Committee, to introduce its report and outline its recommendations. She explained that the Bill was the last stage of a long process. In recent years there had been three reports from two working groups on these issues, as well as two substantive Governing Body debates and much discussion in the Standing Committee. The Bill which eventually emerged from these reports and debates contained proposals that had already been subject to much debate and scrutiny. Consequently the Select Committee dealt with a small number of minor amendments proposed, and five of these were adopted by the Governing Body. One amendment was proposed that was not recommended, and the GB did not adopt it in the committee stage.
At the end of the committee stage, the Bill was proposed by the Archdeacon of St Davids, Paul Mackness, and seconded by the Archdeacon of Llandaff, Rod Green. The Bill was passed by more than two-thirds in all three orders and promulgated by the President.
Amendment to Chapter V Regulations
The Bishop of St Asaph brought an amendment to help Diocesan Conferences fill “casual vacancies” on the list of episcopal electors and the supplemental list to its standing committee. The amendment would allow people to be appointed between formal elections. No diocese would have to do it, Bishop Gregory stressed, but it was a good system which had been working well for his diocese and he would like to be able to continue with it.
Hannah Rowan (Monmouth co-opted) expressed her concern that the amendment would give more power and influence to a small number of people. She argued that, these days, an online Emergency General Meeting could be convened quickly. “Let’s not give our democracy away too easily,” she said.
Canon Dr Jason Bray (St Asaph) and elected vice-president of the St Asaph Diocesan Standing Committee, defended the amendment, saying it would be “permissive, not prescriptive” and allow a greater degree of flexibility.
Responding, Bishop Gregory assured members that filling vacancies this way was “a very remote possibility indeed” and that everyone wanted to exercise as much democracy as possible.
The motion was passed.
In Chapter V (Regulations) renumber Regulation 4.5 as 4.6 and insert:
- 4.5 A Diocesan Conference may make provision to delegate elections to fill casual vacancies on the list of Episcopal Electors and the supplemental list to its Standing Committee. Such elections shall otherwise proceed as set out in Regulation 4.4
Day 2: 6 September
Prayers were led and address given by Sheran Harper, Worldwide President of the Mothers’ Union. Her moving address focused on domestic violence at home and abroad. She thanked members for their prayers and their partnership in the Restored programme and asked for their support for the international campaign in November – 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence.
“Together we must move the agenda forward to make a safe and secure place where all women and children are loved, valued, respected and given a chance to flourish,” she said.
Plenary discussion following discussion groups
Simon Lloyd, the Provincial Secretary, thanked the facilitators and note takers of each group from the previous days’ discussions on Priorities, Growth and Resilience. He summarized the feedback for each question.
In relation to the Governing Body, comments were generally positive. People liked the sense of being a family, were pleased that the meetings were less formal than they used to be and appreciated sitting around tables rather than in rows. There were observations that members had become better at disagreeing well and carefully listening to each other.
Suggestions for change included receiving reports without motions and members not repeating things. There were also calls for more prayer and that it should be more radical.
Reactions to the priorities set out by the Archbishop included a sense that they were not challenging enough and sounded like value statements, rather than priorities. There was a desire for more reference to God and clear language of mission and evangelism used.
Suggestions for support for mission and ministry from the Representative Body and Diocese included funding for MA administrators and paid workers to free up clergy for mission as “priests should be priests”. More clergy were also called for and pleas for grant application processes to be made easier.
Too much for clergy to do was one reason for preventing church growth. That included looking after buildings and other distractions which took them away from being a priest. There was also felt to be both a lack of confidence in telling the good news of the Gospel and of knowledge of the Gospel.
Messages for the Archbishop included praise and thanks for his Presidential Address and ensuring he had the support he needed. There was a desire for him to focus on building the Kingdom, not serving the institution, to stop rebranding and to be adaptive in a changing world.
Many members responded to the feedback from Mr Lloyd with further comments. Chairing the session, the Archdeacon of St Davids, Paul Mackness, said all the comments had been noted and would be fed back to the Standing Committee as part of the wider discussion.
Ministry Areas as Charitable Incorporated Organisations
The motion to enable Ministry/Mission Areas to form as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation was first proposed two years ago by the Archdeacon of Margan, Mike Komor, as a Private Member’s Motion. Although it did not pass then, the debate made it clear that there was an appetite for the change, following further work on the proposals.
Matthew Chinery, head of legal services, explained the work had now been done and an approved template prepared for MACs to use to set up a CIO. While all MACs were charities, this was about moving to a different type of charity which had benefits for trustees. Every CIO received a registered charity number, making it easier to claim benefits.
Members voted in favour of the motion to amend Chapter IV (C) 12, allowing MACs to form Charitable Incorporated Organisations, following consultation with their Archdeacon.
Further guidance on the procedure to do this will be released shortly.
Private Member’s Motion
A motion to establish an independent commission to examine Ministry/Mission Areas, now that they had been formally commissioned across Wales, was proposed by the Revd Dr Jonathon Wright and seconded by the Revd Sam Aldred, both from Swansea and Brecon Diocese.
An amendment was tabled by the Revd James Henley (Monmouth) who, while agreeing that evaluation was important and we were learning the lessons we needed to learn, argued that such a commission would be time consuming and costly. “We can’t outsource our collected responsibility to evaluate and discern,” he said. “We must take ownership of that ourselves.”
The amended motion was passed.
Nearly 12 years have passed since the ‘Time is Now’ conference in Llandudno, which launched the 2020 Vision. The 2020 Vision aimed at transforming the Church in Wales, in part, through the adoption of Ministry/Mission Areas in each diocese of the Province.
Since June 2023, all dioceses have formally commissioned Ministry/Mission Areas, replacing the parochial system as the basic local administrative unit. Ministry/Mission Areas mark a fundamental change in the structure of the Church in Wales. They have long-term ramifications that significantly alter or affect governance, finance, mission, and ministry.
This Governing Body:
a) commends self-evaluation within dioceses and the sharing of good practice across the Province;
b) welcomes the Archbishop’s steps to establish a Learning Community to aid our reflection;
c) directs the Standing Committee, following the first meeting of the Learning Community this autumn, to develop proposals to broaden and embed robust methods for diocesan self-evaluation and provincial collaboration.
Ecumenical Relationships video and questions
The Bishop of St Asaph introduced the motion, stressing that it concerned our fellowship with Christians across the world and the part we played in international ecumenism. It was timely, he said, following last year’s assembly of the World Council of Churches and this year’s assembly of the Conference of European Churches, both of which had delegates from the Church in Wales.
The motion was seconded by the Dean of St Davids, Sarah Rowland Jones. An amendment, suggested by the Revd Mark Thomas (Swansea and Brecon), to add a fourth clause was accepted by Bishop Gregory. The motion was then passed by members.
That the Governing Body:
a) welcomes the Church in Wales’ engagement with the various international ecumenical instruments;
b) thanks all those who work hard to ensure strong representation of our life and mission at the international level;
c) affirms the commitment of the Church in Wales to the global ecumenical movement as part of God’s will for a united witness to the Gospel
d) explores ways to support actively and to pray for the persecuted church worldwide.
Report of the Standing Committee
Tim Llewelyn, chair of the Standing Committee introduced the report. It recommended that the Governing Body meet at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David on September 4-5 2024 and at Venue Cymru, Llandudno, on April 30-May 1 in 2025. The recommendation was moved and the report approved.
Report of the Standing Committee on Legal and Governance Matters
Minor constitutional amendments were proposed which did not require Bill procedure. These included: editorial changes to replace gendered language with gender-neutral language; extending the deadline for vestry and deanery conferences to give treasurers more time to prepare accounts; and re-organsing Canons which related to relations with other churches.
The report was approved.
Archbishop Andrew paid tribute to two members who were retiring – Bishop Joanna Penberthy, who had served as Bishop of St Davids until the end of July, and Mike Komor, who had served as the Archdeacon of Margam since 2018. He wished them well for a very happy retirement.
The meeting ended with a charge from Archbishop Andrew. Members, he said, had wrestled hard with one another to get to the will of God and discern what He was calling us to. He urged members be a “shaper of narratives and agendas which we share together in the communion” and to cascade them to others. They should also be attentive to our life and times and to hear what God was doing in this world.
Date and place of next meeting
Governing Body will return to ICC Wales for its next meeting on 17-18 April.