Bishop’s Ad Clerum – December 2017

4 Rhagfyr 2017 December 4

Gwnewch y Pethau Bychain

Do the Little Things

 

Annwyl Gyfeillion

I hope that the Advent pastoral message was well received in your churches.  It is funny how the world has suddenly, it seems, woken up to Advent. However, not as a season for spiritual preparation, but as another commercial opportunity.  Family and friends have wondered whether I’ll be having the gin advent calendar this year, and there’s virtually nothing now which doesn’t come packaged into twenty-four tiny portions to delight and distract.  Let us resolve as a Church family to find new small moments of being with God, ways to awake our souls to the presence of God and his grace at work in our lives and in the world.

You will probably already be on the treadmill of Advent and Christmas services and activities: let us see all of these as moments to give others a small but powerful call to faith and to the power of God’s love.  Milton Jones, the comedian, has just published a book called “Ten Second Sermons”, potent sentences and thoughts to encourage reflection about faith.  It reminds us how much can be conveyed in so little – which is a timely reminder to me at least that in preaching less is often more.  May God bless the coming seasons, and all that you seek to achieve.

The Third Episcopal Visitation

I am grateful to all who participated in my Third Visitation, which was completed this year.  I gained a picture of a diocese where 2020 Vision is bringing new life and drawing people together in intentional mission.  However, a large number remain sceptical or even unengaged.  In particular, the attitudes of the clergy themselves seem to be highly influential.

Someone said to me the other day that there does seem to be a spirit abroad which says we’ll grow if we continue doing the same things we’ve always done before, only better.  What all this says to me is that this is not true.  It will not be enough to witness to Christ by saying “Come and see what we’ve been doing for years, and join us.”  Each mission area needs to think about exploring faith in new ways, and supporting new ventures.  The visitation actually gave very many splendid examples of that, and I’m encouraged where I see lay people and clergy thinking through how to witness to God’s love in new ways.  Of course, our worship, the celebration of God’s sacraments and the proclamation of the Gospel in our Churches Sunday by Sunday will remain vital, but that has to be complemented by nurture groups and deliberate outreach, as well as bold new initiatives, such as are explored in ReSource Church – the details of the next service of which are listed below.

Confirmation and First Communion

I was rather concerned to hear recently of a family who had the following experience with a cleric of this diocese (not known to me).  They had been given the distinct impression by their rector that confirmation and confirmation classes were now superfluous following the change in discipline to allow all the baptized to receive the sacrament.  This couldn’t be any further from the truth.  In implementing the new communion policy the intention of the bishops is to enhance the role of confirmation in the Christian journey, so that the sacrament of confirmation very much expresses a sincere intention to mature and committed discipleship.

This means that confirmation classes and other forms of catechetical instruction are just as important as ever.   Every church in the diocese, individually or in partnership with other churches within their mission area, should be offering confirmation classes on a regular basis to present candidates for me to confirm.   Indeed, in the light of my third visitation, I want to emphasise that Confirmation is one of the key indicators of whether parishioners are taking the call to Christian discipleship and commitment seriously in any given Mission Area or congregation, which brings me to the following point:

Confirmations in 2018

To date my office has only received three requests from Mission Areas to discuss their confirmation arrangements for 2018, despite a request for them to be in touch before November 10th.  I hope that the remaining eighteen mission areas can contact my office through the Mission Area Leaders to indicate their requirements within the next week, even if it is to indicate that they will be presenting candidates at the cathedral at one the three services arranged for next year (as detailed in the calendar).

Hwyl a Helo

Sally Rogers has given me her resignation, and indicated her intention to retire from the Aled Mission Area at the end of April next year.  Sally has given dedicated service since joining the diocese a few years ago, and we wish her and Gillian well as they move into retirement.

I am very sorry to record the death of Terry Bryan, who passed away very suddenly last month.  Terry came to us in retirement from the Church of England, but ministered with a very cheery presence in Cedewain until finally hanging up his stole a couple of years ago.  We remember him in our prayers, as well as Jacqui, his wife.  Our thoughts and prayers also go to Toni Bennett, whose father, Maynard, died at the beginning of November, and to the family of Philip Eyton-Jones OSA, who also died in the month.  May all god’s servants rest in peace and rise in glory.

Ministry and Vocations

I am delighted to announce that Mary Steel has accepted my invitation to act as a pastoral chaplain with a particular responsibility for those who are exploring their vocation following on from disappointment at provincial or diocesan discernment panels. We will be contacting those who are in that category, but if you are aware of anyone in the meantime who would benefit from Mary’s support please do give them her contact details. Mary is an experienced Ministry Development Reviewer in the diocese, as well as being an experienced school Head in her working life. Mary will provide appropriate confidential pastoral support to those who are not looking to return to discernment and would like guidance and support in thinking through ministry and vocation for the future.

Bishop’s Vocational Pastoral Chaplain

I am also grateful to Gill Stanning for agreeing to become Officer for Pioneer Ministry in the diocese, and Jason Bray as Officer for Young Vocations. Both can be contacted by Mission Areas and churches for advice and support in these important areas of our work. I am grateful to Alex Mayes who has served recently as our young vocations officer for all her contribution and work which has borne fruit in the small but healthy numbers of young people who are currently in training for various lay and ordained ministries.

A reminder also of the fact that 13th, 15th and 16th December are EMBER DAYS, and that we should be praying for vocations and for all those in training or formation for ministry over this period, and the following Sunday.  Here are the details on Manon’s leaflet for 2017-2018: Ember Days prayer leaflet

Dates for your diary

The diary includes all those dates which are part of our common professional life, giving as much notice as possible. The clergy synods are a professional commitment for all serving clergy, and stipendiary clergy are expected unless leave of absence has been given.  Please note the next Clergy Synod, which is on 25 January, and the one after that on 27 September.

DECEMBER

13th December          Nicholastide Confirmation, Cathedral, 1830hr.

13/15/16 Dec.           Ember Days*

2018

25 January                Clergy Synod at St David’s Hotel, Ewloe

21/23/24 Feb             Ember Days*

31 March                   Easter Vigil and Confirmation, Cathedral, 1900hr

20 May                      Whit Sunday Confirmation, Cathedral, 1500hr

27/29/30 June           Ember Days*

30 June                     Petertide Ordination at the Cathedral 1000hr (including British Sign Language interpretation)

26/28/29 Sept.         Ember Days*

27 September           Clergy Synod at St David’s Hotel, Ewloe

13 October                Diocesan Conference

12 December            Nicholastide Confirmation, Cathedral, 1830hr

19/21/22 Dec.            Ember Days*

 

Notes and Queries 

Connah’s Quay

You will be aware from the advertisement in Church Times and on the diocesan website that we are seeking a full-time priest for the Borderlands Mission Area who will be rooted in the community of Connah’s Quay.  The deadline for applications is 8 December. Please draw this advertisement to the attention of anyone whom you think might be called to this ministry.

Esgobty Office Christmas Closure

The Office at Esgobty will close at 5pm on Wednesday, December 20th and will reopen at 9am on Wednesday, January 3rd 2018.  During the Christmas break please refer any matters of emergency to the archdeacons in the first instance.  Emails will be monitored but may not be actioned.

Lent Prayer Cards

Orders are now invited for the Lent 2018 Prayer Card which has been composed by the Diocesan Youth Forum.   Please would you email Michael at Esgobty (michaelbalkwill@cinw.org.uk) as soon as possible and no later than Friday, 6 January, indicating how many prayer cards you would like to reserve.  The prayer cards will be available for collection at the Clergy Synod day on Thursday, 25 January.

Support for Church Organists

Please find information from Stuart Robinson, Coordinator, RSCM Wales, about The Complete Church Organist scheme which offers practical support and coaching to church organists in a sequence of sessions spread through the year: RSCM BILINGUAL Complete Church Organist Organydd Gyflawn

Theology studies

There is an exciting opportunity to study theology with leading academics from Oxford and elsewhere. The Department of Continuing Education Theology Summer school has been running for 25 years and draws students from all over the world and from a wide variety of Christian denominations. The theme for 2018 is RENEWING THE SACRED CENTRE. This is a response to the concern many have about personal renewal in theology and faith and the renewal of the Church. The weeks involved are Week 1: 29 July–4 August and Week 2: 5-11 August. Places are allocated in a strictly first come, first served basis. Booking is now open on the website. The link is www.conted.ox.ac.uk/courses/theology-summer-school<http://www.conted.ox.ac.uk/courses/theology-summer-school

Y Gwasanaeth Plygain Blynyddol / The Annual Plygain service

The Annual Plygain service will be held at St Asaph Cathedral on Friday, 26 January at 7.15 pm.

Mi fydd y Gwasanaeth Plygain Blynyddol yn cael ei gynnal yn yr Eglwys Cadeiriol Llanelwy ar Ddydd Gwener, 26 Ionawr at 7.15 y.p.

The Plygain begins with a short service of Evensong, and then the evening is open to anyone or any group who wish to offer their musical gifts. The whole evening will be led by Ven. Bernard Thomas, retired Archdeacon of St. Asaph. There will be refreshments afterwards.

With every good wish for Advent and Christmas.

In Christ