Bishop’s Ad Clerum – May 2017

Unlocking our potential bilingual logo28ain Ebrill 2017 April 28th

Adeiladwch fy Eglwys, medd yr Arglwydd

Build my Church, says the Lord

Annwyl Gyfeillion

So, Brexit plus One brings us another General Election, and the waters of the political life of the United Kingdom continue to run swiftly.  What then is the confluence of the waters of Church life with those of the political life of Wales in this Easter season?  What does the Church have to say to the world?  Easter is the season when we are called to remember that the Resurrection of Jesus makes all things new, so Christians should be looking to see where the new life and energy of the risen Christ needs to be received again into the life of our society.

I think that there is so much in Welsh society at the moment where new thinking would be helpful.  Wales will have little control over the process of Brexit, but Christians do have a voice and concerns to be contributed, and the Bishops have already articulated a position which states that we believe that people must be put to the forefront of any negotiations.  The priority for Brexit should not be economic deal making, but also about ensuring that individual human beings are given space to flourish among all the rewriting of rules, legal apparatus and trade agreements.

However, the Easter message of new life needs to be heard in all parts of national life where human flourishing is being diminished or narrowed down.  bishop Gregory webEarlier this week, I was given the opportunity to speak at a day organized by Housing Justice Wales, a charity supported by the Churches, to bring the plight of the homeless to the forefront of national concern.  Wrexham has the highest proportion of people sleeping rough to the general population in Wales.  Over 300 will be sleeping rough in Wales this week, and waiting lists for social housing far exceed the capacity we have.

There might be those who say that the Church should get on with the business of proclaiming a spiritual message only, but I believe that God loves us in our totality, and that there is infinite capacity in every human being seen in the light of the Risen Christ.  We demonstrate God’s love for them when we speak on behalf of the most vulnerable and excluded, just as did the prophets of Israel.

As we approach the general election, I hope that the Church can be bold in proclaiming the worth we attach to every citizen of Wales, because we believe that Christ died and rose to redeem them, and that the new eternal life to which we are called is one which begins in this life and the redemption of all our circumstances.

The Chrism Eucharist

Many thanks to all of you again for your participation in the Chrism Eucharist.  I am very aware that Holy Week and Easter can be a very taxing time for clergy, so I am very grateful that virtually all of us make the time and space to participate in this genuinely family event in the Cathedral on Maundy Thursday.  It is also good that an increasing number of licensed lay ministers are attending, and a growing number of the members of our congregations.  You will have noticed a few changes in this last year.  My chaplain, Michael, has been working with SLAC to reflect upon the Chrism Eucharist rites used across the Province, and in the light of what we are learning, we took the renewal of commitment to service in a slightly different direction this year.  I am grateful for all the work that has been done on the liturgy, and I would welcome any feedback on how we can continue to renew and develop the liturgy we use.

Confirmation and the Oil of the Catechumens

You will have probably noticed that we consecrated the traditional three oils this year for the first time in many years.  The Oil of the Catechumens has been the least used of the sacred oils since the catechumenate declined with the growing practice of infant Baptism by the fourth century.  I’m aware that it is occasionally used by some clergy who anoint twice at Baptism – with the oil of the catechumens at the beginning of the rite, and with the Chrism after Baptism.

You will probably have heard that Governing Body approved a new Rite of Confirmation for experimental use when it met last weekend.  This is because, although we are adopting the Communion of all the Baptised, the bishops wish to re-affirm the place of Confirmation in the life of the Church as an opportunity for maturing believers to commit themselves visibly to Christ, and to the mission and fellowship of the Church, as expressed in the life of the Church in Wales.  The Rite is available in electronic form from Esgobty, and should be used from this point on in the preparation of Confirmation booklets.

However, people are beginning to discover a new role for the Oil of the Catechumens, as part of a short liturgy in Sunday worship to welcome and affirm those who are beginning the journey of Confirmation preparation.  I am attracted by this new usage, and commend it to you.

Festival of Prayer: 13th May 2017 in St. Asaph Cathedral

This day has been organised by John Harvey, our Director of Spirituality, and the Developing Steering Group.  John writes as follows:

The Festival seeks to respond to the following:

  • the work of Mark Yaconelli in the diocese in 2016, particularly his spiritual formation work with groups;
  • the challenge of Bishop Gregory at the Diocesan Conference in 2016 to ‘Build my Church’
  • the need in the recently formed and emerging Mission Areas to foster and develop a new culture, of participatory processes deeply rooted in prayer – listening to God, to one another and to oneself.

The Festival will consist of a number of workshops in which various models of group prayer formation and activities will be modelled and experienced.

The intention is that participants are able to return to their Mission Area Conferences and committees with vision for the prayerful development of those groups and with resources to begin to implement those developments.

The timetable will look something like this:

09.45              Arrival; tea and coffee

10.15                Prayer and Opening Address

10.30               Session 1

11.30                Break for refreshment and reflection

12.00               Session 2

13.00               Lunch

14.00               Session 3

15.00               Closing Prayers

The day will focus quite narrowly on group spiritual formation and prayer activity. As such, the ‘target audience’ is primarily those who are involved in Mission Area groups and who would be willing to experience these techniques and at least to communicate them back to those groups. Resources and support will be available for this return to the Mission Areas.

Because of the potential numbers involved, and in order to allow proper input and response, it’s been decided to target this particular day towards the Mission Areas that would look naturally to an event organised in the north of the diocese, and to offer another day, later in the year, for Mission Areas that would find it easier and more natural to attend an event based in the south.

John Harvey asks Mission Area Leaders, in conjunction with their colleagues or Executives or Conferences as appropriate, for the following, please:

  • to indicate to John (revjohnharvey@googlemail.com) if he has guessed correctly whether your Mission Area would prefer this Day or another based in the south;
  • to select and invite as representatives suitable and willing participants, up to 4 for each Mission Area, including the Mission Area Leader if they wish, and to let John know that this is done;
  • to ask the participants to contact Sian Connelly at the Diocesan Office (sianconnelly@churchinwales.org.uk) to book directly with her to attend on 13th

Thy Kingdom Come

The ten days that lead up to Pentecost Sunday is traditionally a time when we particularly pray for the Holy Spirit’s power and gifts in the building up of the church, and for their use in our witness as we seek the coming of God’s Kingdom in all its fullness.  The Archbishops of Canterbury and Westminster have commended the period to us, both to pray to deepen our own discipleship, through the use of the Lord’s Prayer, and to pray for those whom we hope will come to deeper Christian faith.

As part of this period of prayer, the Welsh Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops have collaborated to encourage the faithful to join in the international ecumenical initiative ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ which focuses on the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer in the ten day period between Ascension and Pentecost.  In Wales we are encouraging all Christians to take ten minutes out of the day to reflect on the Lord’s Prayer and the call “Thy Kingdom Come” using a special bilingual prayer card that has been produced.  The archdeacons will soon be distributing the prayer cards around the mission areas ready for use from May 25th.  Please liaise with your Mission Area Leader to access copies of the cards for use by your parishioners.

In addition, a PDF version of the Thy Kingdom Come Prayer Leaflet 2017 is available for those who would like to print it locally.  The file is designed for double sided printing, flipping the page on the short edge.

I hope clergy and lay ministers will make sure that this initiative is enthusiastically promoted in their churches and that through dedicated prayer the fruits of the Spirit may abound in our mission areas.

Liturgical Resources

I am pleased to draw your attention to three new liturgical items that are now available on the Church in Wales website at http://www.churchinwales.org.uk/structure/representative-body/publications/downloads/ :

  • Prayers for A Child – This is a collection of liturgies including a new service of Thanksgiving for the Birth of a Child. Other liturgies can be used in a variety of pastoral circumstances including the adoption of a child, prayers when a birth is linked with illness or disability, as well as prayers for use following a miscarriage.
  • The Blessing of a Home is a new resource incorporating a rich variety of prayers that can be used to respond to this particular pastoral need.
  • Basic Guidance Notes on the Celebration of the Eucharist provides liturgical advice and inspiration for the celebration of this central act of Christian worship.   While standards are generally very high, examples have been noticed where even basic liturgical norms seem to have been overlooked.  Theses guidance notes are intended to stimulate reflection by the whole church on best liturgical practice.  They won’t suit everyone of course, particularly as they are written from a broadly Catholic perspective. However, they do contain wise words about the standards of liturgy that we would wish to commend in the Church, and which I’m sure you will want to bear in mind.  Much of this will be well-known, but I suspect there will be one or two surprises for us all.

We are grateful to the Standing Liturgical Advisory Committee (SLAC) that works on behalf of the Church in Wales to produce new liturgical material. SLAC has just completed work on ‘Times and Seasons’ material for the period between Advent and Candlemas to enrich our existing liturgical provision.  These bilingual resources will be available in preparation for the new liturgical year when a new lectionary of weekday readings for the Daily Office will also be introduced.  There will be further information on these two developments later in the year.

Reader Ministry

I draw your attention to changes taking place in the way Reader ministry is configured for those over 75 years of age.  Following decisions adopted by the Governing Body relating to age limits, the designation Reader Emeritus will now become redundant and all licences for Reader ministry will cease once the holder reaches the age of 75.  If a Reader wishes to continue to exercise their ministry, then they can apply for Reader Permission to Officiate which will be renewable annually by the Bishop on the recommendation of the Warden of Lay Ministries and the appropriate mission area leader.  The Board of Readers has already started notifying those who will be affected by this change and any concerns can be raised directly with Steve Green.  The new protocols will be formally enacted at the Licensed Lay Ministers’ Day on September 30th.

Hwyl a Helo

I am delighted to welcome two new clergy to the diocese and to Borderlands Mission Area.  Andrea Jones is currently Rector of the Parish of the Good Shepherd in Manchester, and has been appointed as Rector of Hawarden and Vicar of Sandycroft.  Gill Stanning is currently Vicar of Sandbach Heath in the diocese of Chester, and is joining the Mission Area as a Pioneer Priest.  Both of these lively and creative clergy bring a track record of experience which bodes well for their future ministry among us, and we look forward to welcoming them towards the end of July.

I am sorry to announce, however, that Elaine Atack will be leaving Bala around that time to take up a House for Duty position in the diocese of Lichfield, in order to be closer to family.  Eric Owen has also decided to stand back from active ministry due to family circumstances.  Both Elaine and Eric have been dedicated priests who have faced challenges in ministry in a positive spirit, and who have enhanced the life of our diocese.  We offer them both thanks for their ministry among us, and every good wish for the future.

As you will know, Mark John sadly died on 12th April after a battle with illness which he faced with formidable resolve and good humour.  Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Alison, and their family.  The funeral will be at 1330hr on Friday, 5th May, in St John the Baptist Church in Newport, with a Requiem Mass the night before at 1930hr.

Dates for your diary

The diary includes all those dates which are part of our common professional life, giving as much notice as possible.  Please note them assiduously, especially those where your participation is expected.  The visitations are a professional commitment for all serving clergy, and you will receive my citation to attend at an appropriate interval before the date.

MAY

14thMay                       Episcopal Visitation to Caereinion, Tanat Valley and Vyrnwy Mission Areas, 1530hr, St Ffraid’s, Llansantffraid yn Mechain.

21st May                      Episcopal Visitation to Wrexham and Alyn Mission Areas, 1530hr, St Giles’, Wrexham.

23rd May                      Cedewain MA Commissioning Service, St Gwynog Church, Aberhafesp, 1900hrs

24th May                      Valle Crucis Mission Area Commissioning Service, St Collen’s Church, Llangollen, 1900hr.

25th May                      Wrexham Archdeaconry Confirmation, St Giles’, Wrexham, 1900hr

LATER IN THE YEAR

4th June                       Licensing of Daniel Stroud, St Mary’s Church, Cilcain, at 1530hr .

11th June                     Episcopal Visitation to Denbigh & Dyffryn Clwyd Mission Areas, 1530hr, Holy Trinity, Trefnant.

18th June                     Episcopal Visitation to Elwy Mission Area, St Asaph Parish Church, 1400hr.

19th June                      Licensing of Lara Stroud, St Mary & St Peter’s Church, Bagillt, 1900hr.

24th June                      St Johnstide Ordination at the Cathedral, 1000hr.  (Including British Sign Language interpretation)

2nd July                         Episcopal Visitation to Borderlands and Mold Mission Areas, St Matthew’s   Church, Buckley, 1500hr.

16th July                        Episcopal Visitation to Offa and Maelor Mission Areas, 1530hr, St Mary’s, Ruabon.

30th July                        Licesning of Andrea Jones as Rector of Hawarden and Vicar of Sandycroft, St Deiniol’s Church, Hawarden (time to be confirmed)

3rd September           Episcopal Visitation to Pool & Cedewain Mission Areas, St Beuno’s Church, Berriew, 1530hr.

10th September        Episcopal Visitation to Aled and Aber-Morfa Mission Areas, 1530hr,                                        St Paul’s, Colwyn Bay.

17th September        Episcopal Visitation to Estuary & Mountain and Bryn y Môr Mission Areas, 1600hr, St Mary & St Peter’s, Bagillt.

19-22 September    Clergy Residential Conference at St Anne’s College, Oxford.

3rd October                 St Asaph Archdeaconry Confirmation, St David’s, Penrhyn Bay, 1900hr.

7th October                 Diocesan Conference, St Joseph’s School, Wrexham.  (including British Sign Language interpretation)

8th October                 Episcopal Visitation to the emerging Penedeyrn Mission Area and the Valle Crucis Mission Area, 1530hr, St John the Evangelist, Llangar, Cynwyd.

9th October                 Episcopal Visitation to The Dean and Chapter, St Asaph Cathedral.

Admission of Members to the Order of St Asaph during Choral Evensong in the Cathedral, 1800hr.

15th October               Montgomery Archdeaconry Confirmation, 1530hr, Ss. Tysilio and Mary, Meifod.

7th November            MAL Consultation at Foxhill Retreat Centre, Frodsham.

19th November          Episcopal Visitation to Aberconwy Mission Area, 1530hr, All Saints’ Church, Deganwy.

13th December          Nicholastide Confirmation, Cathedral, 1830hr.

2018

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

Notices and Queries

Anniversaries in Ministry

On Sunday, June 18th, I would like to invite those who will be celebrating a significant ordination anniversary during 2017 to join me for a special celebratory Eucharist at the Cathedral at 1100hr – anniversaries such as 25 years and the subsequent ‘0’ or ‘5’ anniversaries thereafter.  If you have a special anniversary this year that you would like to celebrate with us on June 18th then please contact Esgobty by May 31st.

Big Church Day Out – 2nd-3rd June Capesthorne Hall, Cheshire

The Big Church Day Out gathers Christians from all over the country, of all ages and denominations for a weekend of worship, family fun, music and celebration. This vibrant expression of church unity is enjoyed by thousands of guests every year, and stands as the biggest annual evangelistic event in the UK. Groups and families come from all across the country, bringing many of their un-churched friends and family along as an introduction to church and faith. It is the UK’s largest and fastest growing gathering of the church, expanding to two sites in 2017 at a time when church unity is more of a focus than ever before.

This year, the Big Church Day Out partners with ‘Thy Kingdom Come’, the national prayer initiative started in 2016 by Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury. The Big Church Day Out North will be one of the 2017 Beacon events, falling on Pentecost weekend.

To book your Church’s group please go to www.bigchurchdayout.com and use Group Plus to set up your booking. In just 10 clicks you can create the group and send out your invitations. The ticket prices will drop as more people respond to the invite and order their tickets. Payments will be taken at midnight on the closing date of your group. Please watch this easy-to-follow video to see how Group Plus works.

British Sign Language

The cathedral has taken the decision to extend its welcome to all visitors by providing British Sign Language interpretation at major diocesan services.  You may have noticed the signing which took place at the Chrism Eucharist, and this will happen now regularly at appropriate services in the future.  The diary indicates those services at which a BSL interpreters has been booked currently.

Clergy School Music Group

We’re seeking clerics who have musical gifts in playing instruments or just enthusiasm to sing so that our worship in Oxford can be enhanced by your contribution. If you are such a person please contact the Rev Dot Gosling on 01745 888797 or email: dotchka@me.com

Handling Protests at Church

There have been a few occasions recently when protestors have appeared on church premises.  I am pleased to attach some Guidance Notes for Managing Protestors that have been drawn up by the Diocesan Office that will be helpful to all of us in handling protestors in a confident and appropriate manner, should the need arise.

Ministerial Cover at times of vacancy or sickness

Please find attached some Guidance Notes for Cover during Vacancy and Incapacity or sabbatical.  I would be grateful if all clergy will take time to familiarize themselves with the guidelines and particularly mission area leaders.  These guidelines take immediate effect but there will be some flexibility shown for claims made in this second quarter, April – June, to take account of  pre-existing arrangements.  Any issues relating to this should be discussed with the appropriate archdeacon.

The Order of St Asaph

A final reminder that nominations are now being received for the Order of St Asaph in 2017 as we seek to recognise and honour the outstanding contribution of lay persons at diocesan level, particularly at an appropriate point on the completion of service in a particular way or in a particular role.

I trust that you had a joyful and blessed celebration at Easter, and the time to relax and enjoy a break after all the busyness.  May the joy of the risen Lord abide with us for the fifty days of Easter and beyond, and we seek to make known the Good News that he calls us into the abundance of new life in him.

In Christ,

Bishop Gregory's signature 2015