Ad Clerum * 31st January 2011
The Eve of St Bridget
Noswyl Santes Ffraid
Dewch i weld! (Ioan 1.39)
Come and see! (John 1.46)
In order to prepare for an ICME day with our three deacons recently, I have been reading John Pritchard’s “The Life and Work of a Priest”. John is the Bishop of Oxford, and I’m delighted that he is to be one of the keynote speakers in a rich line up at our Clergy Residential School in September. In the course of his book, Bishop John speaks about the need for the renewal of the Church, and uses some very telling phrases. “[E]very priest has much to contribute because every priest is set at the heart of a Christian community which can come to exemplify the life of the gospel … The aim is to build a community where people stop attending Church and start being Church.” (Bishop John’s original emphasis).
It seems to me that Bishop John has identified the heart of the challenge for the Church in the twenty-first century. If we are to capture the imagination of our communities in a context where the numbers who attend Church are fewer, and society seems to be losing touch with what the Church stands for, our key task is to build communities which shine with such vitality and even holiness that it can clearly be seen that we, by God’s grace, have something which is worth offering to the world: something which makes the invitation to “Come and See” worthwhile.
In the more sober projections, over the next ten years stipendiary clergy are going to get rarer while the maintenance of our church buildings will get more expensive. If our church buildings had to close, and stipendiary clergy were not available to lead the life of congregations, what of the Church survives, and for what purpose? My own answer would be that the heart of the Church does survive: a people called into being by God to be agents of prayer and reconciliation in the world, but the life of our congregations would change radically, and perhaps the exploration of what Church life might look like is something that we should be exploring with our congregations and PCCs already.
Lent begins on Wednesday, 9th March. Following the success of last year’s initiative, it is my intention to make Lenten Prayer Cards available to all parishes which request them for use in Lent. My invitation is to all members of the Teulu Asaph to join me in prayer at 1800hr every day in Lent with a short specially composed prayer. Cards will be printed and available free of charge with the prayer reproduced bilingually. The Prayer cards will be supplied at the beginning of March.
Christian Aid Winter Appeal
The World Focus (formerly the Christian Aid) Committee at Ruabon have reported that a little over £1,000 has been received so far in response to the Winter Appeal. This in fact represents quite a small number of churches, as there are two quite large gifts within that figure. The committee asks that the Appeal should be given a bit of a final push in the parishes now to try to boost the amount raised. Cheques etc can be sent to the Christian Aid Office in Bangor (106 High Street, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 1NS) and should be clearly marked for the St Asaph Diocesan Winter Appeal. Alternatively they can be brought to the service at St Collen’s, Llangollen on Sunday 6th March at 4.00 pm, which will formally close the Appeal. It may be that some parishes have sent amounts directly to Christian Aid in London, in which case it would be useful to know, so that we can trace that money and include it in the total.
Ave atque Vale
I am pleased to announce that Michael Balkwill has accepted my invitation to take up the post of Bishop’s Chaplain and Press Officer. These roles have been drawn together with an awareness of the need of the diocese to ensure that central diocesan expenditure stays as low as possible, and therefore posts must be reduced or combined where there is an appropriate synergy. Michael brings a long and distinguished ministry as parish priest and Area Dean to these new ministries. He will begin duties as Press Officer this month, with Peter Mackriell’s induction into a parish in the Diocese of Chester, and will assume the position of Bishop’s Chaplain when Malcolm Squires takes retirement at the end of May. Michael will also succeed to the canonry that Malcolm then vacates.
The Diocesan Secretary has appointed Phil Topham as part-time Communication Officer to complement the work that Michael will be doing, and to look after the website and Teulu Asaph. Phil is currently News Editor at Global Radio, has a BA in Journalism Studies and experience in both broadcast and print media. Phil will join the diocesan team on 21 February.
Philip Clarke has been appointed to the position of house for duty Priest-in-charge of the Parishes of Askham, Clifton & Brougham and Lowther in the Diocese of Carlisle. Philip has done a lot of hard work to support the parish of Caerwys and Bodfari over the last two years, and we wish him and his family well in a move to the north of England. Philip and his family will be moving in June.
Alan Suter has announced his intention to retire on 23rd September this year. Alan has been a faithful parish priest in the diocese, and we will have an opportunity later in the year to wish him well for his retirement. I have invited Alan to accept the current vacant honorary canonry in recognition of his thirty-three years service in the diocese. I am pleased that he has signified to me his intention to accept. A date for his installation will be advertised in due course. In accordance with the deanery plan, the parishes of Rossett & Isycoed and Llay are due to be grouped under the ministry of Pauline Walker.
I am sorry to report the death of John Taylor, Andy Grimwood’s father-in-law. Our thoughts and prayers are with Fran, Andy and all of the family at this time.
Dates for the Diary
February 6th The Visitation to Llangollen Deanery will take place in St Collen’s Church Hall at 13.00hrs and will be preceded by a Celebration of the Holy Eucharist at St Collen’s Church at 11am.
February 9th The Induction of Edward Yendall as Parish Priest of the Glyn Ceiriog Group of parishes will take place in St John’s, Pontfadog, at 1900hr.
March 30th Open House Eucharist at 0930hr at the Church of SS Mael and Sulien, Corwen.
April 21st` The Chrism Eucharist will be celebrated in the Cathedral at 1100hr. We will follow the same pattern as last year, and lunch will be available free of charge to all who attend.
Advance notification that the tradition of Joint Study Days for Anglican and Roman Catholic clergy will be revived this year on Wednesday, 16th and Thursday 17th November. The aim is to bring clergy of the three dioceses of St Asaph, Bangor and Wrexham together for common study and encouragement on a topic which will stimulate our understanding and ministry, and assist co-operation. This year the study days will also be made available to ecumenical colleagues of any tradition. I am pleased to say that Bishop Donald Bolen, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Saskatoon in Canada has accepted the invitation to lead the Study Days and to give the Hellins Lecture in the evening of Wednesday, 16th November. Bishop Don spent several years working in the Vatican, heading up the work of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity’s relations with the Anglican Communion and the World Methodist Council. It was in this context that I worked with Don on behalf of the Anglican Communion, and he is a generous and inspirational Christian leader and theologian, and will give us much of value. The days will be held in different locations – at present, it looks as if the Wednesday will be hosted in Llandudno, and the Thursday in Wrexham, but further details will be notified in due course.
Fydd Duw yn bendithio chi ac adnewyddu eich nerth, yn fod yn ffrind i chi i gyd, yn rhoi cryfder o ddiben a doethineb a chariad. May God bless you and renew your strength, may he be a friend to you, giving strength of purpose and wisdom and love,