Churches across North and Mid Wales are being invited to work with an internationally renowned author, teacher and community activist as part of a strategy for growth across the Church in Wales.
Mark Yaconelli, based in America, has been appointed as the Diocese of St Asaph’s first ever Missioner in Residence. He will be living and working in North Wales for six months, focusing on youth work, community engagement and spiritual growth.
Mark will be formally welcomed to the diocese in a special service, which is open to all, on Sunday, February 28. In recognition of the importance of his work, Mark will be awarded a ceremonial “stall” in St Asaph Cathedral.
The Bishop of St Asaph, the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron said: “The invitation to Mark to undertake a residency here in North Wales is a bold move to assist us to reconnect the church with its local communities and spiritual roots.
“Mark brings years of experience and innovations in helping communities rebuild relationships and re-engage. He’s a well-known Christian youth worker, teacher, community innovator and story-teller and we are delighted and excited that he agreed to be our first Missioner in Residence.”
Mark Yaconelli, who is accompanied in Wales by his wife and daughter, will work on three main projects during his six months:
- Training youth workers and youth ambassadors across the diocese
- Training teams to run community story-telling events called “The Hearth Project”
- Training church leaders in spiritual discipline
There will be a number of public events which will be open to all.
Mark first came to North Wales in February 2015 at the invitation of the Diocese of St Asaph where he undertook a short series of workshops. His style and impact so impressed Bishop Gregory that he was invited to return, this time for six months.
Mark said: “I am so looking forward to working with people and communities across North and Mid Wales. I loved Wales and its people when I visited last year and I’m excited to be asked to bring my skills and experience with churches and communities from around the world to this beautiful area.”
The funding for this six-month residency has come from the £1 million Transformation Fund set up by the Church in Wales to help congregations better meet the needs of local communities. So far, more than £250,000 has been awarded in the Diocese of St Asaph. Among the projects supported are initiatives to feed children during holiday time when there is no access to free school meals.
The Transformation Fund was formed as a result of 2020 Vision, a commitment to take a fresh look at the structure and ministry of the church to see how it can best serve Wales in the twenty first century. The vision is to engage, inspire and transform. The appointment of Mark Yaconelli as a Missioner in Residence is an attempt to innovate and equip the church with new skills for the future.
The service of welcome for Mark as he starts his six month residency takes place on Sunday, February 28th at 3.30pm in St Asaph Cathedral, followed by afternoon tea. It is open to all.