The Archbishop of Wales has paid tribute to the Bishop of St Davids who retires next week after eight years in the role.
Dr Barry Morgan described Bishop Wyn Evans as a “quintessential Dean and a rather reluctant bishop” whose ministry had been greatly appreciated.
Elected in 2008, Bishop Wyn was the 128th Bishop of St Davids. He retires on October 4 on his 70th birthday, 45 years after he was ordained. For the past three years he has undertaken a pilgrimage, In the Footsteps of St David, visiting every one of the 330 churches in the diocese. The final footsteps were to the Cathedral where he served as Dean for 14 years, during which time he oversaw a significant restoration of the cathedral, including the acclaimed rebuilding of the cloisters area.
The Archbishop said Bishop Wyn had an unparalleled knowledge of Church history in every age and the history of Wales in particular. He said, “Wyn began his ministry as a curate at St Davids Cathedral and later returned as its Dean. The restoration work he led there, particularly the cloisters, is a monument to what can be achieved in a cathedral to make it open and accessible. He was a quintessential Dean and a rather reluctant bishop, but he has found he has enjoyed the role. He took over the diocese at a difficult time but he knew it intimately and his pastoral ministry has been greatly appreciated. I thank him for his many years of service to the Church and wish him every blessing for his retirement.”
Bishop Wyn admitted the Bench of Bishops was not somewhere he aspired to sit. “In 45 years of ministry I had always focussed on trying not to be Bishop,” he said. “I was happy as Dean and I left the cathedral with things I still wanted to do. But in the circumstances I felt I couldn’t say no.”
The circumstances were difficult, following the controversial resignation of his predecessor as bishop, Carl Cooper.
“The main challenge was to keep the diocese together; to keep it settled, keep it focussed.” He also drove through structural changes in the diocese in a strategy called Growing Hope, which emerged from the Church in Wales 2020 Vision review.
“There is no template for bishops,” he said. “So it’s not the role that changes – it is a shepherding role – it’s the circumstances in which that is exercised that change. Having been a country parson, it’s a country parson writ large.”
Bishop Wyn grew up in Aberystwyth, the son of the Vicar of Aberystwyth Efion Evans. He was educated at Ardwyn Grammar School, Aberystwyth, then studied archaeology at the University of Wales, Cardiff. He trained for the priesthood at St Michael’s College, Llandaff 1968-71 and has served all his ministry in the Diocese of St Davids.
Ordained as a priest in 1972, Bishop Wyn served as a minor canon at St Davids Cathedral from 1972-75.
After a period of research at Oxford University he returned to Pembrokeshire, serving as Rector of Llanfallteg with Clunderwen and Henllan Amgoed with Llangan from 1977-82. He was Diocesan Warden of Ordinands from 1978-83, chaplain of Trinity College of Carmarthen 1982-90 and Diocesan Director of Education 1982-1992. He was made an honorary canon of St Davids Cathedral 1988 and served as a canon from 1990 to 1994. From 1990-94 he was Dean of Chapel, Trinity College Carmarthen and head of department of religious studies 1991-94. He was made Dean and Precentor of St Davids Cathedral in 1994 as well as Vicar of St Davids. In 2001, the parish was enlarged into a Rectorial Benefice and renamed Dewisland, where he served as rector.
Bishop Wyn led on Inter-church matters for the Bench of Bishops, in particularly relations with CTBI, Cytûn, and the Commission of Covenanted Churches.
A keen historian, Bishop Wyn is an honorary fellow of the University of Wales, Lampeter, and a leading expert on the lives of the early Welsh saints and St Davids Cathedral.
He is married to Diane, a professional potter.
Watch a full interview with Bishop Wyn