Bishop’s Ad Clerum – February 2018

1af o Chwefror 2018 February 1st

Noswyl Mair y Canhwyllau : Candlemas Eve

“Un peth sy’n angenrheidiol” medd yr Arglwydd

“One thing is needful” says the Lord (Luke 10.42)

Annwyl GyfeillioN

I wonder how you are faring with your New Year resolutions.  Quite honestly, I am struggling once again with mine, because it is hard not to be driven by the immediate, and simply forgetful of keeping the resolutions as a focus of mindfulness.  Old systems and old habits of coping therefore click in, and old patterns reappear and reassert themselves for good or ill.

I think that the same can be true of our ministry.  We can start the year, the season, the month, the week, the day, with very good intentions, fortified by prayer, and then the planned agenda points, aided and abetted by sudden interjections of new demands, can blow the planning and the aspirations apart, and we end the day exhausted, feeling that we’ve achieved little.  Then again, I can recognize that a call to take on new initiatives, to achieve new goals, can come, not as the exciting liberation to concentrate on the important, but as a call to do yet more, and to fit more in.

As we, as a diocese, are called to be radical in seeking the growth of the Kingdom, in ourselves, in discipleship, in engagement with our communities, in those embraced by the call of the Gospel, if we’re not careful, it can become another stick with which to beat ourselves, or one another.

I am all too aware that a new priority, a new diocesan initiative, can come across like that.  And I am conscious that the hierarchy doing their thing, do not always act as sensitively, collaboratively, and affirming, as they aspire to be.

The Diocesan Youth Forum have written a Lent prayer for us to use each day in Lent that calls us back to the basics of discipleship: to address hard things and failings as an opportunity to fall back on God and his love for us.  “Not my will, but they will be done.” “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Let us then use Lent, not to adopt another target to beat ourselves with, but to focus on what it important, and learn to lay other things aside.  “One thing is needful”, says the Lord.  Let us use the diocesan priority on growth, not to add to our labours, but as a call to centre on the most important aspect of our ministry, and to discover the way in which the talents, the charisms, that God has given us can further the Kingdom.

I trust that you will encourage the use of this prayer throughout Lent, distributing the cards which have been given to you, and calling people to use them, whether it be in the intercessions and prayers in our worship, in its daily recitation at the offices, or as near to 1800hr as possible every evening (which I will endeavour to do).  As I pray this prayer throughout Lent, I will be praying that each one of us as the Teulu Asaph will be strengthened and blessed in our discipleship and in our common life.

Clergy Synod

Thank you for the time given to taking counsel together at the Synod last week.  The feedback received has been good and supportive of how we spent the time.  I was particularly grateful to you for some excellent feedback on important topics.  A summary of the discussions has been prepared for us in the usual excellent manner by Jane Griffiths, to whom all thanks.  We are likely to lose Jane’s ministry in this way when Bob retires later this year.  If there is anyone you know, who might like to volunteer to offer this ministry in the future, then please do put them in touch with me.  I do offer a very modest honorarium for the time required.

I have been encouraged by the feedback received to persevere with the synod as a day of consultation, and I am glad that we now have a group of clergy, who will assist me to ensure that we tailor the day to suit everyone’s needs, and work to ensure that the day will be time well spent.  Members of the new synod planning group are:  Anne Hooper, Andrea Jones, David Lewis, Norman Morris, Alexis Smith, Daniel Stroud, and please do contact them directly to offer further feedback and suggestions.

Chrism Eucharist

I look forward very much to keeping this observance once again with you all at 1100hr on Maundy Thursday, March 29th in the Cathedral with the celebration of the Eucharist for the Blessing of the Holy Oils together with our Renewal of Commitment to diaconal, priestly and episcopal service as well as the commitment of all the baptized to mission.

I am greatly rejoiced that this service has become a genuinely diocesan event, and I stress again that all licensed and commissioned lay ministers and members of our congregations are very welcome to this occasion in addition to all clergy, serving and retired.  Clergy are requested to robe in alb or surplice with white stole in the Lady Chapel and then take your seat in the nave by 1050hr.  Readers are also welcome to robe in surplice and scarf, other licensed lay ministers to wear their cross, and members of the Order of St Asaph their insignia.

Lunch will follow as usual, and will be served in the South Transept.  It will again be a hot main course followed by pudding.  All are very welcome to stay for this, however we do need to have an accurate estimate to give to the caterers.  Mission area leaders are asked to collate the numbers of those requiring food from their area to submit their numbers to Siân at Esgobty no later than Friday, March 9th.   Therefore, would all clergy please liaise with their MAL indicating the number of people from their churches who will be staying for lunch. 

SWTA Lent Appeal

The theological college in our twin diocese of SW Tanganyika has 50 students but no books.  During Lent our South West Tanganyika Link Association is encouraging each church in the diocese to sponsor the purchase of a substantial theological book for the Diocese of South West Tanganyika’s Christian Training Centre through a gift of £20. The books for the Centre’s library will be purchased in Dar Es Salaam and the gift of £20 per church per book, will be acknowledged through the special bookplate that will be inserted when members of the SWTA team next visit in the summer.  There is list of books which has been identified for the college, and although we can’t guarantee a particular title to a particular church, we would like to think of each church having a link with a specific volume.

It would be good to think that every church community in the diocese, along with individuals if they wish, can support our brothers and sisters in South West Tanganyika in their vocational formation and theological learning.  Donations will be most gratefully received by the Diocesan Office, with cheques made payable to ‘St. Asaph-DBF – SWTA’ please.

Retired Clergy Association

After a long and dedicated term of service, Quentin Bellamy laid down responsibility for the Retired Clergy Association at the end of 2017, and we thank him sincerely for all he has achieved in coordinating events and support for retired clergy across the diocese.  I am glad to say that Pauline Walker has agreed to step into his shoes, and to support our retired clergy through this particular ministry.  She and a small group have been meeting under the chairmanship of Barrie Gauge, however, to discern how the ministry of our retired clergy may be fortified, and how our care as a diocesan family for the retired clergy and their spouses may be strengthened.  Pauline (01745 813831 / pawalker200@btinternet.com) has kindly agreed to act as coordinator and first point of contact for any issues relating to the Association.

The future shape of the Retired Clergy Association is very much in the hands of its members and to that end I am extending a warm invitation to the retired clergy and spouses and widows living in the diocese to join me for afternoon tea during which there will be an opportunity to discuss how the Association can best meet the needs of retired clergy and provide appropriate fellowship and support.  An afternoon event will be held in each of the archdeaconries on the following dates and I look forward to welcoming retired clergy then:

  • St Asaph Archdeaconry: March 21st at The Oriel House Hotel, St Asaph  1500hr
  • Wrexham Archdeaconry: April 24th at The Ramada Hotel, Wrexham, 1500hr
  • Montgomery Archdeaconry: May 1st at The Royal Oak, Welshpool, 1500hr

The Order of St Asaph

It is now time to start inviting nominations for the Order of St Asaph in 2018 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.  Admission to the order is marked by the presentation of appropriate insignia.

The Order of St Asaph Nomination Form should be returned completed with as much information as possible about a candidate’s contribution to the diocese.  All members of the Teulu Asaph, whether clerical or lay, are encouraged to make nominations, which can also be submitted through any diocesan council or committee.  Nominations forms should be submitted to me at Esgobty by the end of April, and will be referred to the advisory committee who will meet in early May.  This year’s admission to the Order will take place at Choral Evensong in the Cathedral on Monday, October 1st at 1800hr.

Understandably there are those who have offered sterling service to the church within a church / mission area context.  Whilst the Order of St Asaph is intended to recognize diocesan service, I am happy to be approached about someone’s outstanding contribution to local church life that should be recognized.  I will be happy to issue a suitable certificate that can be used by the particular church or the mission area for a local presentation.  Please contact Michael at Esgobty in the first instance with appropriate details for me to consider.

Hwyl a Helo

I am pleased to inform you that I am intending, under God, to ordain five candidates to the diaconate at Petertide.  It is intended that Dominic Cawdell will serve as assistant curate in the Alyn Mission Area rooted in the communities of Rossett and Llay;  Alan Cronin will serve as non-stipendiary assistant curate in the Borderlands Mission Area rooted in the community of Hawarden; Dylan Jones will serve as assistant curate in the Dyffryn Clwyd Mission Area rooted in the community of Ruthin; John Searl will serve as non-stipendiary assistant curate in the Aled Mission Area rooted in the communities of Abergele and St George; and Kathy Stewart will serve as non-stipendiary assistant curate in the Mold Mission Area rooted in the Bro Famau communities.

God willing, I will also ordain Rocky Bateman, serving in Estuary and Mountain Mission Area, rooted in Holywell, Ann Chidgey, serving in the Cedewain Mission Area, rooted in the Kerry communities, Rebecca Sparey-Taylor, serving in the Wrexham Mission Area, rooted in the Garden City community, and Jeanette Wilkes, serving in the Pool Mission Area, rooted in the Welshpool community, to the priesthood.

Please pray for all these candidates for ordination, that God’s empowerment will bring them to the grace of order as deacons and as priests in God’s Church according to his holy will.

Ian Day has indicated to me that he intends to retire from stipendiary ministry at the end of June this year.  Ian has been a faithful and dedicated priest of this diocese for over 42 years, and has offered exemplary service over this time.  We shall miss his collegiality in the work of full-time ministry, but rejoice that he and Elizabeth are retiring to Kinmel Bay, and remain determined to contribute to diocesan life.

As a consequence of this, Ian has indicated that he wishes to relinquish his role as compiler of the diocesan calendar of intercession and we thank him for his important contribution to the intercessory ministry of the diocese.  Ian now hands over to Neil Kelly who has agreed to take on this work.

Bob Friedrich’s work is already known and appreciated by many in the diocese in aiding our churches to become dementia friendly, and we now formally welcome Bob as our Dementia Support Officer working as part of the Engaging Steering Group.

Congratulations to Andrea Jones on the birth of granddaughter Lyra Andrea Djemal who was born 20th January.

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 is on 27th September.

February and March

21/23/24 Feb               Ember Days*

21 March                      St Asaph Archdeaconry retired clergy gathering, Oriel House Hotel, St Asaph, 1500hr

31 March                      Easter Vigil and Confirmation, Cathedral, 1900hr

Later in the year

15 April                         Licensing of Alexier Mayes, St Mark’s Church, Connah’s Quay at 1530hr.

24 April                         Wrexham Archdeaconry retired clergy gathering, Ramada Hotel, Wrexham, 1500hr

01 May                          Montgomery Archdeaconry retired clergy gathering, The Royal Oak Hotel, Welshpool, 1500hr

20 May                         Whit Sunday Confirmation, Cathedral, 1500hr

24 June                        Eucharist to Celebrate Ordination Anniversaries, Cathedral, 1100hr.

Wrexham MA Confirmation, St Giles’ Church, Wrexham, 1500hr.

27/29/30 June            Ember Days*

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

01 July                         Mold and Borderlands MAs Confirmation, St Peter’s Church, Northop, 1500hr.

05 July                      Alyn MA Confirmation, 1900hr

26/28/29 Sept.         Ember Days*

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

29 September           LLM Annual Convention

01 October                Admissions to the Order of St Asaph during Evensong, Cathedral, 1800hr

13 October                Diocesan Conference

12 December            Nicholastide Confirmation, Cathedral, 1830hr

19/21/22 Dec.           Ember Days*

*Please make specific use of the prayer leaflet prepared by the Director of Ministry, and remember our postulants and ordinands, by name if possible, in your prayers, not only on the Ember Days themselves, but in the intercessions in Church the following Sunday.

Notes and Queries 

The Big Church Day Out

This is a two day Christian music festival held at Capesthorne Hall, near Chester in June.  Please display this flyer in your churches.

Fees for Marriage Blessings 

You will, have by now received from the Representative Body the fee structure for marriages in 2018.  Please note that this year there has been introduced a dedicated structure of fees for Marriage Blessings following a civil ceremony, where the ministry fee is £185 and the church fee is £205.

This is to address those increasing number of occasions when approaches are being made to churches for a marriage blessing accompanied by the full ceremonial of a wedding.  The fees are designed to meet these needs, and, as with all marriage fees, represent a maximum amount to be charged.  Where smaller or more intimate blessings are requested, it is not expected that the full fees will be levied.

For good or ill, you are reminded that blessings of same gender marriages or partnerships can still not be blessed at a religious ceremony in a Church in Wales building.  You are reminded, however, that the Bench have issued a form of prayers which may be used at your discretion.

Media Issues

The Diocese of St Asaph has received plenty of media coverage recently.  In most cases, a journalist is in contact with our diocesan communications officer, Karen Maurice to make arrangements, and she makes first contact with the most appropriate clergy.   There have been occasions recently, where journalists have approached clergy directly and told them that Karen has given her permission.  This has not been the case.  If you are approached for a media interview, please give Karen a call to confirm your involvement is appropriate.  She works full time and can be reached on 01745 532588 or 07918 133420 or karenmaurice@churchinwales.org.uk.

Mothering Sunday liturgy

As we prepare for Mothering Sunday the Mothers’ Union website has excellent resources for Eucharistic and non- Eucharistic services: http://www.themothersunion.org/Mothering_Sunday_resources

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.

As part of this period of prayer, the bishops are encouraging the faithful to join in the international ecumenical initiative ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ between Ascension and Pentecost, 10-20 May 2018.  More details and resources can be found at:  https://www.thykingdomcome.global/

I wish you well for your forthcoming observance of Lent, and will look forward to seeing you in the Cathedral on Maundy Thursday if not before.

In Christ,