Bydd wrol a dewr iawn! (Josua 1.7)
Be strong and very courageous! (Joshua 1.7)
It seemed that Spring had sprung last week in St Asaph before the onset of rain of Palm Sunday. This annual renewal of life has been uplifting, and I hope it has the same positive effect on you as on me. Even if the weather has turned now, the opening of Esgobty’s magnolia is inexorable. I hope that as we celebrate Easter – together on Maundy Thursday, in our congregations in the remainder of the triduum, and in our homes in Easter week, that the same unfolding of new life will be confirmed by the movement of the living Christ in our hearts.
Centring ourselves on Christ is at the heart of what we do, and all our ministry, all our energy depends on finding the time to put this first. It is a lesson that we know, but I certainly have to relearn it time and time again. Martin Luther is recorded as having said something like this on one occasion: “Even on a busy day, I like to begin the day with an hour in prayer; except on those exceptionally busy days, when I must begin with two.” Something to aspire to!
I hope that no matter how many things the diocese asks you to do, no matter what pressures the parishes impose, we give ourselves permission for prayer, which may be no more than stepping aside from busyness, and opening ourselves to blossom in the light of Christ, just as nature is presently opening itself to the light of the Spring sunshine. For in touching eternity, we will gain a perspective on everything else.
Hwyl a Helo
I am pleased to welcome two new clerics to the diocese. Chris Feak is currently Priest-in-charge of Sandown on the Isle of Wight, but will be moving in June to join us as Vicar of Towyn. Caroline Rhodes is currently Associate Priest in the Wirksworth Team Ministry in the Diocese of Derby and will be joining us to minister in Pool Mission Area as Vicar of Guilsfield, Buttington and Pool Quay. We are delighted to welcome them to the Teulu Asaff.
I am pleased to announce that Quentin Bellamy has been appointed to the Parishes of Old Colwyn and Llanelian. Quentin is well known to us all, and has served faithfully as Vicar of Prestatyn since 2004. We wish him well for this move.
I am sorry to record that Stuart Elliott is leaving the diocese to take up the position of Ministry Area Leader in Betws y Coed. Stuart has served nearly eight years in the diocese since his ordination, and has brought fresh enthusiasm, especially to our environmental stewardship, to the diocese. We will be sad to see the Elliott family leave, but also wish them well in a context which seems to fit them exactly.
Judith Prust has indicated to me that she will retire from active NSM ministry on May 25th. We thank Judith for her dedicated ministry in the Tanat valley, but we will hope to continue to see her around.
Bob and Sandra Friedrich are visitors from the Diocese of Connecticut, who are living in Conwy while Bob completes his doctoral studies on ministry to those with dementia. I will be giving Bob Permission to Officiate in this diocese, and I know that Bob will be interested in making contact with others who share his specific interest in ministry to this particular community.
Congratulations to Mary and David Dunn on the birth of their grandchild. Caleb was born in February.
I look forward very much to keeping this occasion with you at 1100hr tomorrow on Maundy Thursday, April 2nd in the Cathedral at 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.
Although the numbers submitted have been carefully collated and the appropriate quantities of lunch booked, I don’t want anyone feeling that they have to stay away. In particular, I look forward to welcoming retired clergy, readers and members of the laity to the celebration that the presbyteral college of the diocese offers of our participation in the ministry of the Great High Priest after the Order of Melchizedek. Our usual group photo will be taken after the service.
Diocesan Consultation on Same Sex Unions
Canon Phil Groves of the Anglican Communion Office will be facilitating our conversations in June. The times and places of those meetings have been advertised (and appear in the diary below), and we are hoping for a good turn out. Invitations will be sent shortly after Easter to all members of the Diocesan Conference, but the meeting is open to all interested members of the Church in Wales, and members of Mission Area/Deanery Conferences are also being encouraged to participate.
The aim of the evenings will be to take time together to consider seriously how we honour Scripture and tradition as we hear the experience of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters and seek to welcome all in our church communities. Being welcoming and being faithful to Scripture and tradition have been seen by some to be in conflict, but if we are to be genuinely the church of God in our present time and place, we are called to wrestle with this complexity and not jump to quick and simple solutions. However, a church with canons and set liturgy does need to move beyond listening and make decisions. As you know, the views of the diocese of St Asaph will be garnered from responses to the consultation papers sent into Esgobty, and by the findings of the three discernment evenings in the first week of June, which will be led by Canon Phil Groves of the Anglican Communion Office assisted by Chancellor Alan Tiltman.
In order to prepare yourself for these evenings you are asked to read and reflect. You may well feel that you have made up your mind already. If this is the case, then find time to talk reasonably face to face with someone you think you might disagree. This subject generates such strong and diverse views that we can only hope to remain together as Christians if we are prepared to listen and not begin conversations be seeking to convert one another. You may well come away strengthened in your own beliefs and the dialogue is not set up to change your mind. I am asking you to listen and to pray with the person you meet. In order to facilitate such meetings, many deaneries are organizing their own events in the run up to the discernment evenings.
When we gather on the discernment evenings we will meet to pray, to study scripture and to share reflections with one another. This is a subject that produces great emotions, but the evenings are not designed to involve passionate speeches and last minute appeals calling people to one side or another. We will pray for clarity on a journey which we must make in fellowship with one another. It will be an evening to listen respectfully to different views, and then participate in a response form which will allow there to be some indication of the views of all those who attend.
As we prepare for these evenings, do please pray for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. They have been the subject of debates that have often raged about them rather than with them over the understanding of Scripture and the Church. So often they have been diminished and defined in unhelpful ways by people on all sides. If you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans and you are concerned about whether the discernment meetings will be safe places, please contact Phil Groves directly. He will not pass on any names to me or to anyone else in the diocese, but would welcome your help as he completes the design of the evenings.
It has been disappointing that we have failed to appoint to the recently advertised posts at Gorsedd, Denbigh and Llansantffraid Ym Mechain. Please could you prayerfully remember these vacancies, whether in terms of a possible move within the diocese or in being pro active in bringing these vacancies to the attention of your wider circle of contacts so as to invite people into the Teulu Asaff. In June three new vacancies will be also be advertised: Priest-in-Charge in Wrexham Mission Area (All Saints’ & Rhostyllen), Mold and Prestatyn.
Dates for your diary
2 April Chrism Eucharist, Cathedral, 1100hr
4 April Easter Vigil & Diocesan Confirmation, Cathedral, 1900hr
13 April Licensing of Ginny Burton as Associate Priest in the Llanrwst Group, at St Martin’s Church, Eglwysbach, 1900hr.
19 April Licensing of Glen Mansfield and Stan Walker at St Ann’s Church, Rhyl, 1530hr.
26 April Licensing of Jason Bray at St Giles’ Church, Wrexham, 1630hr.
LATER IN THE YEAR
10 May Confirmation for Mathrafal & Pool Deaneries at St Myllin’s, Llanfyllin 1500hr
11 May Installation in Choral Evensong of Rex Matthias as Canon Precentor and Vicar in the Rectorial benefice of St Asaph, Cathedral at 1800hr.
18 May Induction of Quentin Bellamy as Rector of Colwyn & Llanelian, at Church of St Catherine & St John the Baptist, Old Colwyn at 1900hr.
18 May Licensing by the Archdeacon of Wrexham of Sarah Errington as Priest-in-Charge of the Conventional Districts of Rhosddu & Rhosnesni in Wrexham Mission Area, at St James’ Church, Rhosddu at 1900hr.
2 June Same Sex Unions Consultation, St Asaph Cathedral, 1900hr – 2100hr
3 June Same Sex Unions Consultation, All Saints Church, Newtown, 19hr – 2100hr
4 June Same Sex Unions Consult’n, St Margaret’s Church Hall, Wrexham, 19hr-21hr
7 June Induction of Caroline Rhodes as Vicar of Guildsfield, Buttington and Pool Quay at St Aelhaiarn’s Church, Guilsfield at 1530hr.
13 June Readers’ Day, Gresford
14 June Confirmation for Alyn Deanery at St Tudfil’s, Coedpoeth 1500hr
21 June Anniversaries of Ordination Service, Cathedral 1100hr
22 June Licensing of Chris Feak as Priest-in-Charge of Towyn at St Mary’s Church, Towyn at 1900hr.
27 June Petertide Ordination, Cathedral, 1000hr
28 June Confirmation for Wrexham Mission Area, St Giles’ Church 1500hr
5 July Confirmation for Dee Valley Deanery, 1500hr, venue to be confirmed
12 July Confirmation for Cedewain Mission Area, All Saints’ Church, Newtown 1500hr
29 September Clergy Synod Day, venue to be confirmed (half day concluding with lunch)
7 October Retired Clergy Association Eucharist & lunch, St Asaph
10 October Diocesan Conference
21 October Confirmation for Mold & Hawarden Mission Areas, 1900hr, venue to be confirmed
11/12 November Area Deans / MAL residential, Foxhill, Frodsham
9 December* Diocesan Nicholastide Confirmation, Cathedral, 1830hr
*Please note that the Diocesan Confirmation at the Cathedral previously advertised for 2 December will now take place on Wednesday, 9 December at 1830hr.
Continuing Ministerial Development
Funding for training
This year there are training bursaries available for training needs arising out of Ministry Development Review or which help equip us for mission and ministry in the future, or for any other developmental needs we may have for our ministries. There is more money available than for the previous Clergy Allocation Grant, up to £500. However these need to be applied for. The English language forms can be downloaded here:
The Welsh language forms will be available soon. The next deadline is 31st May for the July meeting of the Grants Committee. All the information is on the Training Bursary Guidance notes. Manon or Tracey (White) can guide you through the process and help support the application. Karen Williams at the Diocesan Office can also help with more practical matters such as if you would like the application to be considered more urgently than the normal cycle of meetings, and what exactly to put on the form. It is also possible to apply for a retrospective bursary up to six months after an event.
Continuing Ministerial Development
We are in the middle of planning 2016. Please do email Manon if you have suggestions. Already planned we have Paula Gooder (March 3rd) and Roger Haydon Mitchell (12th January) as well as a resources day for Welsh language creative liturgy.
As you know, there is an expectation that all stipendiary clergy will book themselves on to at least 2 diocesan training events, and for this year, one will include the compulsory Safeguarding training. More information on the other courses can be found at
Please book your place on any courses by emailing Sian Connelly on:
firstname.lastname@example.org or 01745 582245.
Training events coming up include:
Ministry in Schools May 12th 10am-4pm Venue: St Margaret’s Church, Wrexham, which is organised by the Diocesan Education and Lifelong Learning Team showcasing all kinds of different organisations, speakers and resources that we can use.
Ministry and Poetry June 2nd 10am-4pm Venue: Llangollen Pavilion led by Canon Mark Pryce. An opportunity to reflect on our experience of ministry through the poetry of Thomas Hardy, Anne Stevenson, RS Thomas, Seamus Heaney, Benjamin Zephaniah and others. There will be talks about poems and poets as well as conversation groups to think through our pastoral settings and concerns in light of certain poems. Participants can bring a poem of their own choosing to share with colleagues.
The Wisdom of Mount Athos Monday April 20th 7:15pm Venue: Gladstone’s Library Hawarden. Colin Mansley will be talking about his sabbatical experience and what he learnt about the relationship between spirituality and art. In this event he will be speaking about his pilgrimage to Mount Athos and the tradition of prayer and silence there, particularly with icons. This is open to all but it would be good to see clergy there to support each others’ learning on sabbaticals and to continue to think about how we teach others to pray using a variety of resources and methods.
Notes and Queries
Anniversaries in Ministry
On Sunday, 21st June I would like to invite those who will be celebrating a significant ordination anniversary during 2015 to join me for a special celebratory Eucharist at the Cathedral at 1100hr – anniversaries such as 25 years or which are significant for you. If you have a special anniversary this year that you would like to celebrate with us on June 21st then please contact my office at Esgobty by 15 May.
Download some information about legacy giving here:
The Order of St Asaph
A reminder to consider submitting nominations for the Order of St Asaph in 2015 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.
Download the nomination form here:
All members of the Teulu Asaff, 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.
The venue for the Montgomery Archdeaconry session of the Safeguarding Training on 15 September from Llandrinio Village Hall to St John’s Church, Pool Quay SY21 9JS. Please note this change if you have booked for this session.
Worship Resources from the Church in Wales website are available bilingually. I realise that many of our congregations worship in English but many individual attendees speak Welsh and it would be good to acknowledge that by producing materials in both languages.
Thank you as always for your collegiality and support. I hope that you have a really good celebration of Easter in the parishes, and that your post-Easter breaks are a time of relaxation and celebration with families or friends, as appropriate. May God bless you and uphold you, renewing your faith and calling you onward in the fullness of life.
Ad Clerum 150401 – download