December 2011


Ad Clerum : 5ed Rhagfyr 2011 December 5th
Noswyl S Nicolas : The Eve of S Nicholas
Take hold of the life that is truly life (cf. 1 Timothy 6.19)
Gafaelwch yn y bywyd sydd yn wir fywyd (1 Timotheus 6.19)

Annwyl Gyfeillion,

I have a friend who makes much of the Feast of Saint Nicholas – so much so, in fact, that he spends the St Nicholas season impersonating the great saint, and being welcomed on a worldwide tour to such diverse places as the cathedrals of Canterbury and New York on behalf of the Saint. I hope that one year St Nicholas may make his own entrance to our diocese, and that there might be an appropriate way for him to greet our school children.

I personally think that it is sad that this giant of a saint in the Christian tradition has been somewhat eclipsed in our thinking by the more shadowy figure of Father Christmas. Maybe Americans know him slightly better with a garbled version of his Dutch name of Santa Claus, but here is a very Christian figure giving a very Christian witness to the spirit of generosity which ought to animate us not only in the festive mid-winter season but throughout the year. I see no problem in asserting the true identity of our Christmas Eve visitor, reminding our children of the true story of the Bishop of Myra (and maybe even some of the legends, although not perhaps the bit about the tub of pickled children), and making the most of an opportunity for teaching about how Jesus taught his disciples to be generous, and how Christians have tried to live into that spirit in succeeding centuries. Who knows? St Nicholas may even help us to become a little more generous ourselves!

As you will know from my Advent Pastoral Letter, the Standing Committee has chosen a new motto for our life as a family in 2012, set out now in the heading for this letter. What better saint could we have near the beginning of the Church year to remind us what true life looks like, and the generous spirit that animates it? I know that I’ve asked you all to read my Pastoral Letter on Advent Sunday, but I hope that our strap line will be an aid for you to use in your own ministry in the coming year, as a hook on which to hang your own exhortations to faith, to generosity, and to mission. Tracey White, our Parish Funding Officer, proposed it in connection with a rolling programme for Stewardship in the Province, and you should look out for this material which will be forthcoming shortly.

Advent III and Embertide

It is traditional for the Church to pray for those in training for ordination, and for vocations to ordained ministry at this season. John Harvey, as our DDO, has produced a leaflet of prayers for those in training which can be found here. I should be grateful if all parishes could use these prayers to pray by name for those in training at their major service on the Third Sunday of Advent, to pray for vocations to ministry, and to hold these things in their daily prayers during the Ember Days (14th, 16th and 17th December).

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

I have received order forms for the material relating to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at the end of next month. My sense is that we need to put ecumenism back on the agenda in north Wales, and I’d be very pleased to know that the material produced is widely used in the diocese on Sunday, 22nd January, or at some other point in the octave leading up to the Feast of the Conversion of Paul. We have some order forms for the material here in Esgobty, which are available on request, but details can be found here, together with materials for all age worship here.

Hwyl a Helo

I am delighted to announce that Pauline Walker has accepted my invitation to take the cursal stall of Arthur Bulkeley in the Cathedral. Pauline is a faithful servant of the diocese, and is a member of Governing Body and its Standing Committee. She has played a leading role in the development of women’s ministry in the diocese, and I am pleased that she can assume this new role in the cathedral and in the diocese as a Canon.

I am also pleased to inform you that Peter Wykes has accepted my invitation to take up an Honorary Canonry at the Cathedral. Peter has served the diocese with distinction, and particularly in connection with the College of Spiritual Direction, but is also one of our NSMs. The non-stipendiary ministry is something to be celebrated in the diocese, and I hope that Peter’s appointment is seen not only as a very real recognition of his service, but also as an affirmation of all non-stipendiary ministry through the agency of one of the most dedicated among their number.

Now I’m running out of ways to start sentences for a whole host of other appointments and moves, all of which I welcome and celebrate.

James Harris has accepted my invitation to take on the role of Area Dean of the new united Deaneries of Gresford and Minera in the new year. Both Sue Huyton and Noel Carter have done sterling work as Area Deans of the respective deaneries, and we owe them a debt of gratitude for all they have offered and continue to contribute to the diocese. James has the joy and challenge of leading the united deanery into its new life.

Following David Lewis’ move to Hawarden, the Overton group is being re-organised, David Child will assume responsibility for Overton on a house-for-duty basis. Clive Hughes will take on Penley and be inducted as Vicar of the extended Hanmer Group.

Aidan Coleman has been appointed to the Parish of Holywell. Aidan is just beginning three months sabbatical, and will be moving to Holywell in March 2012.

We will be welcoming Rex Matthias back to the diocese next Spring, when he will succeed Ian Day as Vicar of Mold. Rex needs no introduction to us in the Teulu Asaff, but has had a short and successful spell of ministry in the Diocese of Monmouth.

Christine Owen has accepted the nomination to become Vicar of Colwyn Bay and Brynymaen. Christine will also take on the new charge in the Spring, so there will be another busy round of inductions.

There are also some farewells.

David Francis has indicated to me that he wishes to retire at the end of this year. David has served a significant amount of his ministry in the south of the diocese; first in Llanraeadr ym Mochnant, and returning to us after a spell in St David’s Diocese, as Area Dean of Caereinion. We wish David and Dorothy all the best in retirement, and better health for David than that which he has enjoyed of late.

Robin Green has indicated to me that he intends to relinquish his licence as NSM team member of Rhos Cystennin Benefice at the end of February next year. Robin is also facing challenges with his health, and we wish him well.

I am very sorry to report the death of John Blakeman. John served in Lichfield, Southwark and Derby dioceses before his retirement to the Ceiriog Valley where his contribution to church life has been greatly appreciated. Our thoughts and prayers go to Joan and to his family. I have also been sorry to learn of the death of Monica Williams, wife of Walter Williams, on 17th November.
The Chancellor, Roger Dutton, has also lost his father in the last few days. Our thoughts go to Walter and Roger and their families also. May these faithful servants of God rest in peace.

Dates for the Diary

06 Dec 1830hr Confirmation in the Cathedral.

06 Jan 1900hr Epiphany Service at St Mary’s Church, Ruabon, for the merging deaneries of Llangollen and Bangor Is Y Coed

11 Jan 1900hr The Licensing of David Child as Priest-in-charge of Overton & Erbistock at St Mary the Virgin, Overton.

23 Jan 1900hr The Induction of Clive Hughes as the Vicar of the augmented Hanmer Group of Parishes at St Mary Magdalene Church, Penley.

24 Jan 1000hr CMD Day in the Catrin Finch Centre, Glyndwr University, on Working with Youth.

29 Jan 1500hr Service for Candlemas at St Mary’s Church, Llanfair Caereinion celebrating the merger of Caereinion and Llanfyllin Deaneries.

05 Feb 1600hr Candlemas Service for the merging deaneries of Gresford and Minera at Holy Trinity Church, Gwersyllt.

26 Feb 1530hr Evensong and Installation of new Canons in the Cathedral.

15 Mar 1900hr The Induction of Aidan Coleman as Vicar of Holywell at Holy Trinity Church, Holywell.

17 Mar 1400hr The Induction of Rex Matthias as Vicar of Mold, at the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Mold.

19 Mar 1900hr The Induction of Christine Owen as Vicar of Colwyn Bay and Bryn-y-Maen, at St Paul’s Church, Colwyn Bay.

Notes and Queries

The Celebration of the Holy Eucharist

I would like to draw the clergy’s attention to a recent pastoral letter of the Bishop of London on the Anglican approach to the Eucharist. It appears that Bishop Chartres published this letter with the attention of addressing certain abuses of which he suspected some of the clergy in his diocese. I do not have the same fear, but many of the points he makes are worthy of our attention. The letter may be found here.

Changes to Copyright Law

These changes could mean that your Church needs a new licence by Sunday 1 January 2012 to be able to play recorded sounds. You can find out if you’re affected here.

Church in Wales Provincial Review Group

There was a good attendance at the meeting of the Review Group in the Cathedral, and many were able to contribute. A final reminder to those who have written submissions they wish to bring to the attention of the Provincial Review Group following their recent visit to the diocese, that the deadline is Thursday 12 January 2012. These submissions should be sent directly to the Chair of the Working Group at the House of Lords:
Lord Harries of Pentregarth
The House of Lords, Westminster, London, SW1A 0PW

Parish Notice Boards

I would like to remind you that it is part of our diocesan policy that parish notice boards should be bilingual throughout the diocese.

Retired Clergy Association

Quentin Bellamy, as Chaplain to the Retired Clergy Association, reminds us to inform him if any “new” retired clergy come to live in their parishes so that they can become involved in the fellowship and support the Association is developing so well, and be affirmed within the Teulu Asaff.


Llanrwst and Henllan (the latter on a House for Duty basis) remain in need of priests; Llanrhaeadr Ym Mochnant will be advertised as a full-time post in the new year. In the light of new appointments, we will also be considering appointments to Rhosymedre and Ruabon – newly grouped, and to Eglwys Bach and Glan Conwy. The archdeacons should be the first point of contact for interest in these appointments.

Christmas will soon be upon us. I send you my warmest greetings in this holy season, and it is my prayer that all our celebrations of Advent and Christmas will be blessed by the presence of the Holy Spirit, and enable us to proclaim good news with joy and with fervour.