The Bishop of St Asaph has called on communities across North and Mid Wales to renew the church in lively and real ways.
In his 2016 Advent Message, which was presented in all 229 churches in the Diocese of St Asaph on Advent Sunday (27 November), the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron encouraged congregations to build “a community that lives by God’s values.”
Filmed in St Asaph, at both the Parish Church of St Asaph and St Kentigern and inside the Cathedral, Bishop Gregory urged people to offer relevant, inspirational “love, service and the other values of the Christian faith.”
He said: “As I look around the life of the Teulu Asaph [the family of the church] I see much which is good going on. I see acts of quiet worship and services of exuberant praise. I see the celebration of the sacraments, people reaching out in love and service to the community. Work with children, reaching out to the homeless and the refugee. We are building up the life of the church in our own day and in our way. It is a movement that I want to see take root and develop. “
Citing examples from history, Bishop Gregory reminded people that every generation has sought to show their Christian faith in new and relevant ways. He starts with St Kentigern, who it’s believed established a Christian community of 900 monks on the site of the Parish Church in St Asaph, before discussing William Morgan who translated the bible into Welsh, as well as women of great faith such as Ann Griffiths at Llanllugan in Powys and Mary Jones near Bala.
He went on: “We are heirs to all this history; a story which has as its heart, the building up of a community of people who respond to God’s love, who seek to be witness to his kingdom values in the world.”
Change is taking place across the Diocese of St Asaph as churches move from being part of the parish/deanery system to Mission Areas. Churches are being grouped together to share resources, buildings and services to better meet the needs of the local community. It’s part of a re-organisation across the Church in Wales as it heads towards the centenary of its dis-establishment in 2020.
Bishop Gregory said: “2016 and into 2017 will be a time of change throughout our churches and I wanted this Advent message to remind everyone that the church is the body of people, not the physical building. Christians have always adapted and changed to meet the needs of every generation in relevant and meaningful ways.
“As we seek to serve the needs of our local communities now, we need to be developing new, relevant and meaningful ways to do this while remaining faithful to Christian values.”
The Diocese of St Asaph is part of the Church in Wales, an independent Province within the worldwide Anglican Communion of Churches. The diocese is a community of 229 churches covering the counties of Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Wrexham and parts of Gwynedd and Powys. It looks after 51 schools, including one shared faith secondary school.
The Bishop’s Advent Message was watched, read or played at the main service in every church across the Anglican Diocese of St Asaph on Advent Sunday – 27 November 2016. It is available in five formats – Welsh and English audio, written in both Welsh and English and on video. You can watch the message on YouTube via our web page.