Bishop’s Ad Clerum – February 2017

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Gwyl Fair Y Canhwyllau : Candlemas

Adeiladwch fy Eglwys, medd yr Arglwydd

Build my Church, says the Lord

Annwyl Gyfeillion,

I once remember a Religious Studies curriculum that wanted to demonstrate how all the world religions were basically about the same thing. It did this by arguing that we all had the same sort of festivals.  Hannukah, Divali and Christmas were all lined up as mid-winter services of light.

Yet Christmas, despite having “light” references (the Epiphany Star, the birth of the Light of the World, etc.) isn’t really the Christian service of light: that is Candlemas.

And yes, we recall that Christ is “a light to enlighten the Gentiles, and to be the glory of your people, Israel”, but it is also a call to bring light into the world ourselves. Bring light, that is, not heat (in argument), nor darkness (in obfuscation) nor misery (by harping on about our complaints or letting rip when angry), but LIGHT.  It’s something I have to school myself to remember when I get into wrangles, and probably something for us all to remember in diocesan life.

Archdeaconry Quiet Days

When the clergy have been canvassed about the CMD programme, they have repeatedly requested more material of a spiritually oriented kind. Manon has therefore worked hard to organize three Archdeaconry Quiet Days.  At the moment, there is still plenty of opportunity to sign up, and the more who sign on, the more it will work as a day.  Although they are termed archdeaconry dates, I am sure that all clergy would be welcome at any of the days.

The Director of Ministry writes:  

There is an opportunity for us, and those with whom we serve and share ministry, to come away to reflect and prepare for Lent, Holy Week and Easter in our Archdeaconry Quiet days. All days are from 10am-3pm and are free of charge.  (The Ash Wednesday day will be a drop-in session. When booking for this date please let us know if you’d like to be booked in for morning coffee, lunch or afternoon refreshments). Booking for all days is essential.  Please contact More information on each day is here:

 Preparing for Lent, Holy Week and Easter: death and resurrection

February 7th 10am – 3pm St John’s Llangollen led by Christopher Lewis

“Cleave the wood and there I am” are words attributed to Jesus in the apocryphal gospel of Thomas.  Christopher Lewis finds they describe the creative process not only of carving wood but also of people’s imaginative and varied responses to his carvings.

Christopher taught himself to work with wood when a missionary with USPG in Borneo in the early 1970s.  Only thirty years later did he begin to take his work seriously when, as a residentiary canon at Bradford Cathedral, he was, to his surprise, asked to contribute some of his carvings to an exhibition there of work by local artists.  This led to his using carvings, in conjunction with music that reflects them, as the focus for retreats and quiet days, and leading these has become his ministry in retirement.

For the Quiet Day he will bring four carvings which, with their associated music, will in different ways prompt responses to the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Each time a carving will be shown without comment, inviting people to discover their own meaning in it.  Then Christopher will speak about it, before playing music that relates to it.  This will lead into a period of silence – though there is no expectation that people remain silent over coffee and lunch.

February 9th 10am-3pm Gregynog led by Peter Pike

Peter writes: I am a hoarder, and one of my treasured possessions is a vocations’ leaflet from the mid 1980s (cyclostyled on cream paper) encouraging people to consider becoming a novice nun at the Carmelite Monastery in Preston (don’t ask). It would be totally sunk in today’s electronic, interactive vocational appeals to young people, but the last sentence redeems that completely. Come and join the community, it says, and discover a way of ‘Living out with Jesus the mystery of his life and death that all may come to his resurrection joy.’

This will be our focus for the day, which will include searching Scripture, our heart’s food for the journey, responding to varied poetry, painting and music from this season, singing a little but keeping longer silences, and having opportunities to share ‘practice that seems to have worked for us through Lent Holy Week and Easter’ in worship in its broadest sense.

March 1st (Ash Wednesday) 10am – 3pm  led by Tim Feak in Gladstone’s Library Chapel – a drop in day to reflect on the themes of Ash Wednesday. Feel free to come for as long or as short a time as you like.

Bishop Matthew Mhagama

During February, we shall have the pleasure of welcoming Bishop Matthew Mhagama of South West Tanganyika, and his wife, Skola. As a native of Zanzibar and through his postgraduate studies, Bishop Matthew has particular insights into Christian-Muslim relationships and his diocese of SW Tanganyika, with which we are formally linked, provides a good model for church involvement in the community. Bishop Matthew will be spending time in churches and schools which have built links with churches and schools in South West Tanganyika. The programme is by no means full and churches and schools, who would like to learn more about our link with South West Tanganyika and would welcome a visit from Bishop Matthew, are asked to contact Mike Harrison or 07910 141410.

Bishop’s Visitation

I look forward very much to spending time in each mission area as we seek to support each other on the journey of faith and stimulate each other in growing our church communities as places of welcome, hope and spiritual nourishment. The Citation and Articles of Inquiry are due to be sent out soon to those mission areas that are first on the Visitation Schedule.  All those receiving a Citation from my Registrar are obliged to attend this meeting – that is, all licensed Clergy, Lay Ministers and Mission Area Wardens.  I would however also like to encourage the attendance of anyone in the mission area who would like to participate, especially members of the Mission Area Conference.

Articles of Inquiry will be addressed to all licensed clergy and lay ministers and to the Mission Area Wardens. Their completion is not intended to be onerous but the 3 or 4 questions are designed to give me a snapshot of life in the mission area, especially focusing on this year’s theme of church growth.  To enable all mission areas to now develop their planning for this event I am pleased to attach a copy of the covering letter that will be sent out in the Registrar’s mailing, along with some notes for practical guidance.  All the paperwork relating to the Visitation will also be available online soon at:

In preparation for the Visitation I am asking the Archdeacons, with the assistance of the Mission Area Leaders, to inspect all parish registers. There was some cynicism when this exercise was conducted at my last Visitation, however it raised concerning examples about the poor upkeep and storage of some parish records.  It is therefore important to repeat the inspection this time.

The archdeacons will be liaising with the churches in each mission area to undertake the inspection in the three months leading up to the Visitation. I will then be able to address any issues with clergy at the Visitation meeting.

Confirmations in 2017

There will be five services of Confirmation in the diocese this year. Two will be at the Cathedral: in the Easter Vigil on April 15th and at Nicholastide, December 13th.

In addition there will be three archdeaconry confirmations:

  • Wrexham Archdeaconry: Thursday, May 25th (Ascension Day), St Giles’ Church, Wrexham, 1900hr.
  • St Asaph Archdeaconry:   Tuesday, October 3rd, St David’s Church, Penrhyn Bay, 1900hr.
  • Montgomery Archdeaconry: Sunday, October 15th, 1530hr. Venue to be confirmed.

Order of St AsaphThe Order of St Asaph

It is now time to start inviting nominations for the Order of St Asaph in 2017 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, and those admitted to the order are listed in the diocesan Yearbook.

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 9th at 1800hr.

Understandably there are those who have offered sterling service to the church within a parish or deanery context. Whilst the Order of St Asaph is intended to recognize diocesan service, I am happy to be approached by parishes and deaneries who feel someone’s outstanding contribution to their life should be recognized and I will be happy to issue a suitable certificate that can be used by the parish or deanery 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 announce that I have appointed the Director of Ministry, Manon James, to be an honorary Canon of the Cathedral.  Manon has been faithful in her service to the diocese, and most recently in the role of Director of Ministry.  I am glad to mark her skills and contribution to the diocese in this way. Manon will be installed at Choral Evensong on Monday, 27th March at 1800hr in the Cathedral.

I am also delighted to announce the appointment of Phil Bettinson to the churches of Rhosllanerchrugog and Penycae within the Offa Mission Area.  Phil will be licensed and installed on Monday, April 3rd at St David’s Church, Rhosllanercrugog at 1900hr.

It is good to welcome those taking up new roles in mission area leadership.  Dot Gosling and Ian Day were commissioned in January for their roles as Mission Area Leaders for Bryn a Môr  and Aber-Morfa respectively.  I also look forward to commissioning Martin Snellgrove as MAL for the new Valle Crucis MA in May and Elaine Atack as MAL for the new Penedeyrn MA as the former Deanery of Penllyn & Edeyrnion divides.

We wish every blessing to Robert Pearce who has indicated that he will relinquish his House for Duty post in Denbigh Mission Area on Pentecost Sunday.

Congratulations to Bishop John Dudley Davies, who celebrates the thirtieth anniversary of his consecration as a bishop this coming weekend.

We were sorry to receive news of the death of Gerald Griffiths, and of Ron Scotford, Bethan Scotford’s husband. Gerald served with distinction in the diocese in the Rectorial Benefice of Wrexham and the Parish of Hope, while Ron supported Bethan’s ministry in Guilsfield and Corwen.  More recently, we have received news of the death of Archdeacon Emeritus Tony Sadler.  Tony served in the Church of England, but, in his retirement, offered a great deal to the diocese by way of ministry as Pastoral Chaplain, and assisting with distinction in local parishes.  On Saturday last, Carol Evans died after a battle with cancer.  Carol was another dedicated and spiritual priest, who offered much ministry to many who sought her out for spiritual comfort and direction, and who, having served in Bangor diocese, offered ministry in her retirement to us.

Funeral Details:

  • The Ven. Tony Sadler:Monday, February 6th, Requiem Mass at Pelsall Parish Church; Tuesday, February 7th, Funeral Service in Lichfield Cathedral, 2pm.
  • Canon Carol Evans: Friday, February 10th, Llanfairfechan at 1pm.

May God’s servants rest in peace and rise in glory.

Dates for your diary

The diary includes all those dates which are part of our common professional life, giving as much notice as possible. I’m still regularly surprised by clergy colleagues who tell me that they didn’t know of dates clearly announced for several months in this list, so I should be pleased if you could peruse them carefully.


5th February               Denbigh Mission Area Commissioning Service, 1030hr, St Mary’s, Denbigh.

7th February               Archdeaconry Quiet Day, Llangollen.

9th February               Archdeaconry Quiet Day, Gregynog.

28th February             Licensing of David Lewis as Vicar of Llandrillo yn Rhos, 1900hr St George’s, Rhos on Sea.

1st March                     (Ash Wednesday) Archdeaconry Quiet Day, Gladstone’s Library, Hawarden.

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

12th March                  Pool Mission Area Commissioning Service, 1100hr, St Aelhaiarn’s, Guilsfield.

27th March                  Installation of Manon James as Honorary Canon at Choral Evensong in the Cathedral, 1800hr


3rd April                        Licensing of Phil Bettinson, St David’s, Rhosllanerchrugog, 1900hr.

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, St Ffraid’s, Llansantffraid yn Mechain.

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

24th May                      Valle Crucis Mission Area Commissioning Service, 1900hr.

25th May                      Wrexham Archdeaconry Confirmation, St Giles’, Wrexham, 1900hr

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

18th June                     Episcopal Visitation to Elwy Mission Area, St Asaph Parish Church.

20th June                     Penedeyrn Mission Area Commissioning Service, 1900hr.

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, 1530hrs, St Mary’s, Ruabon.

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, St Paul’s, Colwyn Bay.

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

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

7th October                 Diocesan Conference, St Joseph’s School, Wrexham

8th October                 Episcopal Visitation to Penedeyrn and Valle Crucis Mission Areas, 1530hr, St John the Evangelist, Llangar, Cynwyd.

9th October                 Episcopal Visitation to The Dean and Chapter, St Asaph Cathedral / Admission of Members to the Order of St Asaph during Choral Evensong in the Cathedral, 1800hr.

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

19th November          Episcopal Visitation to Aberconwy Mission Area, 1530hr, All Saints’ Church, Deganwy.

13th December          Nicholastide Confirmation, Cathedral, 1830hr.


30th June                      Petertide Ordination at the Cathedral 1000hr

Notices and Queries

Anniversaries in Ministry

On Sunday, June 18th, I would like to invite those who will be celebrating a significant ordination anniversary during 2017 to join me for a special celebratory Eucharist at the Cathedral at 1100hr – anniversaries such as 25 years and the subsequent ‘0’ or ‘5’ anniversaries thereafter. If you have a special anniversary this year that you would like to celebrate with us on June 18th then please contact Esgobty by May 31st.

Lent Prayer Cards

Those who ordered the Lent 2017 Prayer Card will have received them at the clergy synod. A few copies remain for those who did not put in an order, so please would you email Michael at Esgobty as soon as possible, indicating how many prayer cards you would like to take.  Ash Wednesday is on 1st March.

Exploring our Boundaries

This teaching day exploring the issue of human sexuality takes place on Saturday, February 4th at St Margaret’s Church, Wrexham, and will include worship and input from speakers, including Elizabeth Day and Jenny Anne Bishop.  The day has been organised by the Diocesan Human Sexuality Group and will include discussion sessions on recognising the presence of LGBTQIA people in our church and community, welcoming all those who feel excluded or marginal, and will explore human sexuality and same sex marriage. The day will also look at what we can take back to our churches, including an introduction to a short human sexuality study course which any group can take on and run itself within the Diocese.

Sign Language Interpreters for church services

Do you need a professional sign language interpreter for your church service (general or special service)? St Asaph Diocese can help.  We can provide a fully qualified interpreter who can provide sign language appropriate for a church service.  If you would like to discuss your needs and the process to book an interpreter please contact: Sarah Wheat – Engagement Officer on 01745 532596 or email

TCC (Trefnu Cymunedol Cymru / Together Creating Communities) 

TCC have an Active Citizenship training event coming up March 24th – March 25th at Noddfa, Penmaenmawr to introduce community organising and the work of TCC. Details are attached and please contact the TCC office if you would like more information:   01978 262588 /

May God bless you richly as we plan for Lent. I continue to thank God for your support in ministry, and for all your hard work,

In Christ,

Bishop Gregory's signature 2015