Bishop’s Ad Clerum – December 2016

Unlocking our potential bilingual logo5th December 2016 Rhagfyr 5ed Eve of St Nicholas 

Adeiladwch fy Eglwys, medd yr Arglwydd

Build my Church, says the Lord.

Annwyl GyfeillioN

I write this on the Eve of the Feast of Saint Nicholas.  As many of you know, St Nicholas makes a habit of visiting this diocese every year at about this time, appearing at the St Nicholastide Confirmation, and by happenstance, visiting the very same school where I am presenting the prizes for my Christmas card competition.  The midwinter spirit who visits our homes with presents on the Feast of the Nativity is a combination figure: the old mediaeval figure of the spirit of Midwinter, Father Christmas, and the Americanisation of the continental Sinta Klaus, St Nicholas, who once dropped gifts of gold down the chimney for some unmarried girls in need of a dowry.

At a time when Christmas is prey to greater and greater secularization, I think it is good if we can reclaim the Christian aspects of St Nicholas.  This great hero of the faith, who lived and bore witness to the Christian faith in Myra, in what is now Turkey, in the mid-fourth century is a worthy reminder of Christian generosity and witness to the Gospel, and the more we can make our Santas into St Nicholases the better.  Let us avail ourselves of this opportunity to tie in secular celebrations with a more Gospel centred figure and inspiration to our homes and families in our celebrations.

Hwyl a Helo

It is good to be able to announce that David Lewis will be moving to the Aled Mission Area to assume responsibility for the Llandrillo yn Rhos and Rhos on Sea Churches in late February.  David is a faithful parish priest, who brings great pastoral care to his ministry, and we welcome him to this new role.

I am also pleased to announce the appointment of Yaqoob Khushi to the Caereinion Mission Area, where he will be rooted in the communities of Llanfair Caereinion, Llanllugan and Manafon.  Yacoob is from Pakistan, but has been ministering in London for some time, and working as a Hospital Chaplain.  He and his family are now moving into Wales, and are delighted to be joining the diocese.

The international feel of the diocese is on the increase as well with the invitation to Dan and Lara Stroud to join the Teulu Asaph.  Dan and Lara currently minister in the Church of St Thomas, Whitemarsh in Pennsylvania, but will be moving in the new year with their son, Charley, to take up positions with us.  All being well, Dan will be joining the Mold Mission Area to minister in the Bro Famau Group of Churches, and Lara will be joining the team in Estuary & Mountain Mission Area to work as a Pioneer Priest.  It is very good to welcome them into our midst.

I am glad to announce that Archdeacon John Thelwell has accepted my invitation to become the Diocesan Mothers’ Union Chaplain.  The Thelwells have been great supporters of the MU for some years now, and I am delighted that John has agreed to take on this role for us.

I am very sorry to record the death of Ivor Llewelyn Davies, former Canon of this diocese, who served in Caia Park during the 1960s and Connah’s Quay in the 70’s.  We send our prayers and condolences to his widow and family.

The January Clergy Synod

A reminder to all clergy that our next Clergy Synod will take place on Thursday, 26th January, 2017, at St David’s Hotel, Ewloe.  This is a professional commitment for all stipendiary clergy, and all non-stipendiary clergy are warmly encouraged to join us as this is an important time for the presbyters of the diocese to take counsel together.

At the last synod, there was some feeling that we did not pay enough attention to the questions raised from the Mission Areas, and so the whole of the synod will be given on this occasion over to the matters raised from the Mission Areas.  At the September Synod, we considered matters of the place of grandparents at Baptism, Mission Area organisation, finance and marriage registration, Episcopal Elections, the meaning of “Mission” and “Cure of Souls”, and annual retreats for the clergy, and how this related to training grants.

There were also matters that were not considered, but which have been raised: Mission Area Officers, the disconnection between faith and society, the promotion of the Welsh language, and the maintenance of the number of church buildings in Mission Areas.  I would like to address these as four topics for our time together in January, as well as revisiting our common understanding of Mission.  If there are other questions that clergy would like to see raised for discussion or response at the Synod, I should be grateful if you could notify Siân at Esgobty of these topics or questions well in advance of the date of Synod, and we will seek to incorporate them.  I look forward to seeing you there.

Communion of All the Baptised

The issue of parental consent has been raised with the Bench in connection with the new policy of the Communion of All the Baptised.  As I believe has been indicated, children under 5 should be communicated with the host only, but between the ages of five and eighteen, under civil law, the permission of the adult with parental responsibility is required for alcohol to be given.

The important thing is for clergy to be able to demonstrate that reasonable care has been taken to ensure that parental permission has been given.  It is my belief that where a child is brought forward to receive communion by and with the parent, there may be a reasonable presumption that consent is implied, although even so, until the practice becomes well-established, it may be appropriate to ensure that notice is given, either in the notice sheets or in the announcements, of the practice of the Church in this respect.

Where there are complicated cases – such as adoption or separated parents – then the Church in Wales is recommending the use of a form, which those with parental responsibility can be asked to complete, and which can be recorded appropriately.  These forms can be used in specific cases or more generally. The Communion Consent Form is here, together with Advice for the Admission of Children to Holy Communion guidance that has been prepared by the legal department of the Representative Body.

20th Anniversary of the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood

The Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester, will preside and preach at a special Eucharist held in the Cathedral at 1100hr on Saturday, 7th January.

The service has been prepared by Dot Gosling and Rex Matthias to celebrate this significant milestone.  (The service has become the template for other dioceses to use as well!). Efforts are being made to contact all the women who have been priested in our Cathedral or have served as priests in the Diocese since then. But this is not just a service for and about women. Although we want to celebrate the anniversary we also want to celebrate a whole priesthood of women and men. We also want to mark the support we received from people, lay and ordained, throughout the Diocese and the Province in working towards that end.

The caterers have been booked to provide a hot meal similar to the one provided for the Chrism Eucharist on Maundy Thursday. Our only problem is that we have no idea how many people to expect. Please send numbers attending from your churches by the end of December please to Sue Huyton 01978 780608.

Dates for your diary


7th December            Nicholastide Confirmation at Cathedral, 1830hr.

11th December          Service to welcome Christine Browne as Shrine Guardian, St Melangell’s                        Church, Pennant Melangell, 1100hr.

Service to welcome Jaqoob Khushi as Associate Priest in the Caereinion Mission Area, 1530hr, Llanfair Caereinion

19th December          Licensing of Roger Watts as Priest in Aled MA, St Cynbryd’s Church, Llanddulas, 1900hr.


7th January                  Celebration of 20 years of Women’s Priestly Ministry in the Church in Wales, Cathedral, 1100hr. Celebrant and preacher: The Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester.

15th January                Aber-Morfa Mission Area Commissioning Service, 1500hr, venue to be confirmed.

26th January                CLERGY SYNOD (all day) St David’s Hotel, Ewloe.

7th-8th March              MAL Residential Consultation at Foxhill Retreat Centre, Frodsham.

13th April                      Chrism Eucharist, Cathedral, 1100hr.

15th April                      Easter Vigil & Confirmation, Cathedral, 1900hr.

14thMay                       Episcopal Visitation to Caereinion, Tanat Valley and Vyrnwy Mission Areas, 1530hr

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

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

24th June                      St Johnstide Ordination at the Cathedral, 1000hr.

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.

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.

17th September        Episcopal Visitation to Estuary & Mountain and Bryn y Môr Mission Areas, 1530hr.

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

8th October                 Episcopal Visitation to Aberconwy, Penllyn & Edeyrnion and Valle Crucis Mission Areas, 1530hr.

7th-8th November     Area Dean/MAL Consultation at Foxhill Retreat Centre, Frodsham.


30th June                      Petertide Ordination at the Cathedral 1000hr

Notes and Queries

Bishop’s General Visitation in 2017

You will find the dates of my Third Episcopal Visitation in the calendar above.  I am grateful to the Mission Area Leaders who have already been in touch to confirm venues and I should be grateful if the other MALs can liaise with their visitation partners and let me know the agreed venue as soon as possible.

Changing Attitude

Changing Attitude Trawsnewid Agwedd Cymru would like to invite you to the Iris Film Festival, on Tuesday 6th December, 7.00 in St. Asaph Cathedral for the Premiere of our own film ‘All One In Christ’, made in partnership with Iris Prize Outreach,and five other short LGBT+ films from the Iris Prize Archive.  These are films to inspire and challenge, exploring the joys, pains and hopes of LGBT+ people in Wales, their reception in the Church and across the world.
If you would like to be included on the list of those attending, please go to the Eventbrite page here to add your name to our guest list. Alternatively, R.S.V.P. to this invitation by email to:

Concise Almanac

We are grateful as ever to Martin Snellgrove for preparing a Concise Almanac for the coming liturgical year.

Esgobty Christmas Closure

The Office at Esgobty will close at 5pm on December 22nd and will reopen at 9am on Wednesday, January 4th 2017.  During the Christmas break please refer any matters of emergency to the archdeacons in the first instance.  Emails will be monitored but may not be actioned.

Lent Prayer Cards

Orders are now invited for the Lent 2017 Prayer Card which has been composed by the Developing Steering Group.   Please would you email Michael at Esgobty as soon as possible and no later than Friday, 6 January, indicating how many prayer cards you would like to reserve.  The prayer cards will be available for collection at the Clergy Synod day on Thursday, 26 January.


It is the time to apply for sabbaticals in 2017 (Applications need to be in by the end of March). The application form contains all the information needed and Manon James will be happy to help with the projects and applications.

Retreat / Quiet Day with Canon Christopher Lewis

Canon Christopher Lewis, a retired priest living in Llangollen, offers himself to churches that would like to organise a quiet day or residential retreat.  ‘Meditations with Carvings and Music’ focuses on Christopher’s own talent with wood and can be adapted to meet the needs of a quiet evening or, as a series, to make up a quiet day or retreat.  Please contact Christopher if you would be interested in discussing the possibility of arranging one or more of these meditations and the modest costs involved: 01978 869330 /

Retired Clergy and Funerals

Every so often I receive enquiries, or even complaints, about the role of retired clergy in the taking of funerals.  In the first place, only those clergy holding my Permission to Officiate should be permitted to conduct funeral ceremonies, and only then in co-operation with the incumbents of our churches.  This is vital to ensure the quality of pastoral care and follow up, and the link with the local church.  I would not expect any cleric to take the funeral service of a person without liaison with the priest of the parish church of the area in which the deceased person had their home.  I should be grateful if all retired clergy would abide by this best practice, and any repeated conduct outside of these guidelines should be drawn to my attention.

Revision of the Funeral Service

In September2008 the Governing Body authorised the experimental use of new Funeral Services for a period of up to ten years.  As this period expires shortly, the bishops are asking the Standing Liturgical Advisory Commission (SLAC) to receive any comments from the clergy and people of the Church in Wales to inform the preparation of the definitive rite which will be brought to Governing Body in 2018.  The full range of the funeral service material authorised in 2008 can be accessed online at:  Please send any comments that you would like to submit for the consideration of SLAC to the Secretary, Mr John Jones, 127 Saunders Way, Derwen Fawr, Swansea SA2 8BJ /  by January 31st, 2017.

May God bless you richly in your celebration of Advent, Christmas, New Year and Epiphany.

In Christ,

Bishop Gregory's signature 2015