When I reflect on the call to become Bishop of St Asaph and the move to north Wales from the Anglican Communion Office, one of the biggest changes that leaps out at me is the change of perspective. In the Anglican Communion Office, my perspective was global: the views of Nigerian Archbishops and Latin American charismatics impinged on my daily work and consciousness. Meetings could take me in one week from Cairo to Chicago, Hong Kong to Honolulu (although I actually missed out on that last destination.)
Now my consciousness rarely extends beyond Chester. The focus of my ministry is entirely within the borders of our diocese. This is very significant, because whereas my views on where the Church should go on sexuality, to pick a topic not far from the headlines as an example, in my Anglican Communion office days was heavily weighted by the impact on Anglican Oriental Orthodox relations, say, or the views of the Primate of the Southern Cone, now the views of the clergy and laity of the diocese weigh most heavily on my discernment. It is quite a different perspective.
It is part of the vocation of a bishop that a bishop must be the point of contact between the universal and the local church. To be true to my calling, I have to represent the tradition and teaching of the universal church, both through time and across the world, to the diocese, and represent the views of the people of God here in the councils of the Church at provincial, national and international levels. And somehow I have to be true to my own convictions, and prophetic in my teaching while holding all this in tension. That needs the support of your prayers, if I am to begin to do it to even the least degree.
But it also means that on a day like today, when we remember the saints and martyrs of the Anglican Communion, I really want to encourage all of us to be mindful that we do belong to a worldwide communion, and that we can never and should never act in isolation from the worldwide fellowship of the Anglican Communion, and indeed of the Church Catholic to which we belong. That doesn’t always mean coming to the same conclusions as the rest of the Church, but it does mean taking our communion in Christ seriously and thinking about how their life and convictions should rightly influence ours. To be a Christian, is to give up the view that as human beings we can be autonomous and self-determining: we belong to Christ, we belong to each other in God’s household.
I, for one, think that the catholic, or worldwide, element of our Church’s life is vital to what it is to be Church, and I hope that the sense of being part of something bigger than ourselves, of something bigger than Wales, or even the Church in Wales, is very much part of our consciousness.
Hwyl a Helo
I have always indicated to you that while I will normally advertise appointments in the diocese, including senior posts, I reserve the right to nominate where it is clear that the right candidate is apparent. I have to announce a number of appointments this month which fall into this category.
In the first instance, I have appointed Bob Griffiths as the new Archdeacon of Wrexham in succession to Shirley Griffiths. Bob is a faithful and hardworking priest of this diocese, and has been since his ordination in 1976, and I am confident that he will bring the same amount of energy and dedication to this new ministry as he has shown down through the years in other roles. He knows the diocese as well as anyone, and will bring that enthusiasm and knowledge to his new role. It is my intention to install Bob as Prebendary in the stall of Meliden and Archdeacon at Evensong in the Cathedral on Sunday, 12th January, 2014.
We have organised a farewell service for Shirley Griffiths for Sunday, 24th November, at Evensong in the Cathedral at 1530hr. Further details are given below, and this will be a significant occasion, as three celebrations come together: a celebration of Shirley’s ministry, the presentation of the Order of St Asaph to Meriel Rice Jones, Elwyn Owen and Edward Wardle, and the presentation of the Diocesan Offering to the Archbishop Alwyn Rice Jones Trust.
I am also pleased to announce the appointment of Nia Morris as Rector of Llanllwchaiarn and Newtown with Aberhafesp together with responsibility as Area Dean/Mission Team Leader for the Cedewain Deanery. Nia brings many talents to her ministry, and we look forward to a strong ministry in developing our most southerly Mission Area. Her induction will take place on Thursday, 23 January at All Saints’ Church, Newtown at 1900hr.
I am further pleased to announce the appointment of Kate Tiltman as Associate Priest of Ruabon & Rhosymedre, to work alongside Anthapurusha and Trish Owens. Kate will bring new energy to this parish, and work alongside Anthapurusha as he continues to fight his illness, as well as being a colleague for Trish. Trish Owens and her husband, Ken, themselves earn our congratulations on the birth of a grandchild, Octavia.
Judith Prust has been recommended by the Provincial Discernment Board for ordination to the Priesthood. I intend to ordain Judith as a priest on Sunday, 1st December, Advent Sunday, at Penybontfawr. I am sure that you will want to remember her in your prayers.
I would also like to congratulate Lloyd Hughes and his new wife, Jean, who got married last Saturday, and Mike Harrison and Roz on their Ruby Wedding Anniversary.
News of Kate’s move to Ruabon also triggers another announcement, in that Alan Tiltman is announcing his retirement from stipendiary ministry as Kate takes up her new role. Kate is likely to be inducted in February, so that means big changes for the Tiltmans early in the new year. Alan has been an extremely faithful servant of the diocese during his years with us, especially in organising CMD, and we all owe him a debt of gratitude.
We were sorry to learn of the death on 30 October of Sidney Gilbert. Sidney was originally ordained in the Diocese of St Asaph and returned to us in 1997 from the Diocese of Norwich as Vicar of the parishes of Llanwddyn and Llanfihangel yng Nghwynfa with Llwydiarth until 2000. We remember his wife, Gill, in our prayers.
Sunday, 24th November: A very special Evensong in the Cathedral
The Evensong at 1530hr in the Cathedral on this Sunday will mark three significant occasions.
• The diocesan farewell to Shirley
• The admission of new members to the Order of St Asaph
• The presentation of the Diocesan Offering to the Archbishop Alwyn Rice Jones Trust
I do hope that clergy will make every effort to be present, where possible, and draw the attention of congregations to this event.
You will know that it is my practice to send out a Pastoral Letter to be read in divine worship on Advent Sunday. I hope to be sending my pastoral letter for 2013 out in the next couple of weeks, and wish this letter to be read in the course of the main Sunday services that day, and made available in print where this is possible.
Women Bishops and the Code of Practice
I try to keep mailings to the clergy to the minimum, but I would like to give you advance notice today of an important mailing which will be sent out on Friday morning concerning the consultation process which the Bench of Bishops is undertaking with respect to the development of a Code of Practice to address the situation following the decision of the Governing Body to open the episcopate to women. A letter in English and Welsh will be distributed for circulation to all clergy, and to be further distributed to all who might be interested in responding as part of the process. Please make note of this letter when it is sent out on Friday, and consider ways in which it may be further distributed.
I am very pleased to say that we have a very distinguished visitor to the diocese in January in the form of Canon John Gibaut, who is the Director of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches. The Faith and Order Commission is one of the most prestigious bodies in the ecumenical world, and John, who is an Anglican priest from Canada, is an old friend and colleague. John is going to lead our January CMD, but before that, he will give the Hellins Lecture on Monday night, 27 January, at 1830hr following Choral Evensong in the Cathedral. The title of the lecture will be ‘One Church, One Faith, One Lord – really?’ Please find attached a poster and I would be grateful if you would give this lecture as much publicity as possible. Hellins Lecture poster 2014
Dates for the Diary
07 Novr 0930hr Area Deans’ Training, St Margaret’s Church Hall, Wrexham.
24 Novr 1530hr Special Evensong in the Cathedral. (Details above)
01 Decr 1500hr Ordination of Judith Prust to the Priesthood, Pen-y-bont Fawr.
04 Decr 1900hr Nicholastide Confirmation at the Cathedral.
Dates for 2014
Monday, 27 January, Hellins Lecture, Cathedral , 1830hr.
Tuesday, 28 January: CMD with Canon Prof John Gibaut, Director of the World Council of Churches’ Commission on Faith and Order – ‘Current Prospects for Christian Unity and the Nature and Mission of the Church’.
Thursday, 17 April – Chrism Eucharist & Renewal of Ordination Vows at Cathedral, 1100hr
Tuesday, 13 May: CMD with the Revd. Dr Beatrice Brandon, Archbishops’ Advisor for the Healing Ministry – ‘The Ministry of Healing’.
Saturday, 28 June – Petertide Ordination at Cathedral 1000hr
Tuesday, 9 – Friday, 12 September: Residential Clergy Conference at St Anne’s College, Oxford – ‘Pressing on with the Gospel’.
Saturday, 11 October: Diocesan Conference in the Llangollen Pavilion.
Saturday, 27 June 2015: Petertide Ordination at Cathedral
Notes and Queries
Bishop’s Second Visitation
The Visitation Citation and Articles of Inquiry for the deaneries of Llanrhos and St Asaph will be sent out soon in preparation for my Visitations in February and March. Completed Articles of Inquiry from clergy, readers or churchwardens from these deaneries should be returned to Esgobty by 18 December at the latest please. Further information about the Visitation can be found at http://stasaph.churchinwales.org.uk/people/bishop/visitations2013/
The Real Advent Calendar
We’ve enjoyed the Easter Egg, and the Christmas decorations, and the new addition to the stable of Christian chocolate is an Advent Calendar which delivers the daily sugar rush during December, but includes an obvious Christian context: the reason for the season, as some like to put it. Details can be found at: www.meaningfulchocolate.co.uk and www.realadvent.co.uk A sample can be examined (but not tasted) at Esgobty. Nearly 200,000 “real” eggs were sold last year, and the Advent Calendar will be stocked in Tesco.
Diocesan Train Pilgrimage
I have booked my table for our diocesan Pilgrimage to Glasgow to follow in the footsteps of St Kentigern and Mungo on Bank Holiday Monday, 05 May 2014. I know that a steady stream of bookings have been coming in with well over 100 people from across the diocese having reserved seats. Come and join us for this special journey if you have not already booked!
Please find attached a Concise Almanac kindly supplied for our use by Martin Snellgrove. Concise Almanac A5
The First Order of the Society of St Francis have recently produced a very interesting video entitled The Anglican Franciscan Way which gives glimpses of the life and calling of Franciscan sisters and brothers today, living and working in a variety of locations. This is a helpful resource in raising awareness of the various forms of Religious Life in church and society. The video is available online at www.franciscans.org.uk and a five minute version is on Facebook and YouTube.
Care Home Review
Sarah Rochira, the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, is currently undertaking a review of the quality of life and care of older people living in residential care in Wales and wants to hear from older people, and their friends and loved ones, about their experiences. The Review will gather evidence through questionnaires and a series of visits to over 100 care homes, including some in every Welsh local authority area, where evidence will be heard directly from older people about their experiences, as well as from those who care for and support them. There is a strong invitation for clergy to submit their own evidence. As well as your observations from ministering within a Care Home context please also encourage those living in Residential Care, and friends and relations to share their experiences. A questionnaire can be completed at www.olderpeoplewales.com or call 08442 640 670 to receive a paper copy.
We are now advertising the post of Vicar of Kerry, Llanmerewig, Dolfor and Mochdre in the Cedewain Mission Area:
An exciting opportunity in rural ministry!
We are seeking to appoint a Priest with a heart for rural ministry who will be enthusiastic in being part of and helping to develop the Cedewain Mission Area and who will be rooted in the parishes of Dolfor, Kerry, Llanmerewig and Mochdre.
The parishes are seeking someone who recognizes and strengthens the gifts and skills in others, who is a good communicator and well-organized, who will build on the very good relations with our schools, and who prays faithfully and with imagination and will encourage us in this.
The successful applicant will work closely with a newly-appointed Area Dean colleague and a growing team of licensed and commissioned colleagues across the Mission Area.
In the first instance applications from within the diocese will be invited for this appointment and you will be able to obtain the parish profile and other information from the diocesan website on Wednesday. Please contact Archdeacon Peter for more information or an informal conversation about the role.
We will all too soon be facing the celebration of Advent and Christmas once again. (The Radio Wales Christmas Service, by the way, is being broadcast from St Asaph Cathedral – even if it is being pre-recorded today!) I wish you all the best for your planning and celebrations. May Christ who is Immanuel be at the heart of you plans to bring blessing and new life to you, your congregations, and to the world.