Bishop’s Ad Clerum – January 2017

Unlocking our potential bilingual logo6th January 2017 Ionawr 6ed

Yr Ystwyll : The Epiphany

Adeiladwch fy Eglwys, medd yr Arglwydd

Build my Church, says the Lord

Annwyl Gyfeillion

I hope that you have all had a good Christmas and New Year, both in the liturgical life of your Mission Areas, and in your family and social lives.  Above all else, I hope that you face 2017 with renewed hope, faith and strength, so that as we celebrate the Epiphany, we may be united in our resolve to know Christ better and to make him better known in the year ahead.

The Epiphany, as we know, is a Feast of the Revelation of Jesus, but just as Christ was made known to the wise men, to John the Baptist at his baptism, and in the first miracle at Cana in Galilee, so we need to make him known in our own time and our own context.  We will have the opportunity to discuss the meaning of Mission at our synod later this month, but for me, “mission” is our being sent by Christ to reveal God’s love in all the situations and brokenness of our world in the same way that Christ came to bring healing, forgiveness and hope.  While we ourselves are weak, and in need of healing like the rest of the world, yet by God’s grace and love, we are empowered to go out and bring that same healing to all we encounter.  The Church is only being Church when we are a channel of God’s grace to the world.

A Year to Grow

This is why the Bishop’s Staff, in reflecting on our diocesan life, are hoping that 2017 will be a year in which we take growth seriously.  “Unlocking our Potential” can sometimes feel like a lot of administrative change for its own sake.  It is most definitely not.  It is to bind our fellowship together in a new way which releases the energy of all God’s people to draw people into the life of God’s redeeming love.  Our priority for 2017 needs to be that as disciples and as congregations, we begin to soak up God’s grace in such a way that we begin to shine, to transmit that love to others in a needy world: Christ’s Epiphany in and through us.

I found over Christmas reflecting particularly on the words of the Christmas Gospel: “In him was life, and this life was the light of all humanity.” (John 1.4)  For me, it is intimately connected with the vision in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, where Christian ascends the hill of Calvary, only to find his burdens falling away in his encounter with the Cross – I would want to say with the whole of the mystery of salvation, with not only the atonement, but also the incarnation; a mystery which is the epiphany of Christ.

In asking you to work with me for growth, I am not actually seeking to lay another burden on your already busy ministries: I am asking us all to embrace more radically the epiphany of Christ, who greets us and frees us from our burdens and who liberates us to bring life to others.  Be free.

The January Clergy Synod

Our next Clergy Synod takes place on Thursday, 26th January, at St David’s Hotel, Ewloe.  This is a professional commitment for all stipendiary clergy because we need to invest in fellowship and collegiality together, 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.  I have received some apologies where appropriate, but you are reminded to let me know if you wish to be absent.

I also request all Mission Area Leaders to notify this office of any other topics that their Ministry Teams would like to see raised.

20th Anniversary of the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood

I am looking forward to welcoming as many of you as possible at the cathedral tomorrow, when the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester, will preside and preach at a special Eucharist held in the Cathedral at 1100hr.  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. We hope to host lunch for everyone who is able to attend, and trust that you’ve been able to relay some idea of numbers to Sue Huyton.

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 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.

Hwyl a Helo

We were sorry to receive news of the death of Mrs Jean Spencer Ellis, the second wife and widow of the former Dean of St Asaph, the Very Revd. Vorley Spencer Ellis.  Spencer Ellis was a notable Dean of St Asaph for nineteen years from 1938 and is a name still familiar to many of the newly ordained through the Prize he established for those who have ‘reached the highest standard in their studies and training’.

Dates for your diary

Here are the key dates for this coming year.  They include all those dates which are part of our common professional life, giving as much notice as possible.


 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, St Mary’s, Rhuddlan.

16th January                Bryn y Môr Mission Area Commissioning Service, 1900hr, Christ Church, Prestatyn.

26th January                CLERGY SYNOD (10am-4pm) St David’s Hotel, Ewloe.

27th January                Plygain Esgobaethol, Eglwys Gadeiriol, 7.15 yr hwyr

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

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

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

12th  March                 Pool Mission Area Commissioning Service, 1100hr, venue tbc.

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.

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

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, 1530hr, 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 y 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 Aberconwy, Penedeyrn and Valle Crucis Mission Areas, 1530hr, venue tbc.

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


30th June                      Petertide Ordination at the Cathedral 1000hr

Notices and Queries

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 several well-known speakers, including Jayne Ozanne, 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.

Revision of the Funeral Service

In September 2008 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 is 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 the end of this month.

Lent Prayer Cards

This is the last opportunity to order 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, indicating how many prayer cards you would like to reserve, as orders were due in today.  The prayer cards will be available for collection at the Clergy Synod day on 26 January.

Plygain Esgobaethol

Mi fydd y Gwasanaeth Plygain Blynyddol yn cael ei gynnal yn yr Eglwys Gadeiriol Llanelwy ar 27ain o Ionawr am 7.15 yr hwyr.

The Annual Plygain service will be held at St Asaph Cathedral on 27 January at 7.15 pm.

Welsh Services at HMP Berwyn

Our new prison HMP Berwyn is planning on holding a weekly service in Welsh on a Thursday morning, followed by a Welsh language tea and chat.  The chaplaincy is keen to make this an opportunity for those who speak Welsh to share their gift with others (including learners).  The Rev Alan Pierce-Jones is looking to make contact with clergy experienced in leading Welsh services and to assist in occasionally presiding at such services.  This would not be a huge commitment, perhaps bi-monthly; obviously security clearance would be required.  Any clergy who are interested please contact Alan:

May God bless you richly in this new year.  Thank you for all your hard work, and for your fellowship in the Gospel as we seek to live as Christ’s Church in this place,

In Christ,

Bishop Gregory's signature 2015