Bishop’s Ad Clerum – January 2018

5ed Ionawr 2018 January 5th

Nos Ystwyll : Twelfth Night

Datgloi ein Potensial : Unlocking our Potential

Annwyl Gyfeillion

I hope that your celebration of Christmas and the New Year went well, and that you are now gearing up for the year ahead.  As you know, the central idea of the diocese in the Unlocking our Potential initiative has been to focus upon the issue of growth.  While acknowledging the reality of decline in the numbers of our congregations over several decades, the Church yet believes that the Good News of God in Christ Jesus has a relevance and reality for each person alive in Wales today, and that we should strive to be a growing and dynamic community.  In restructuring around mission areas, and in emphasizing the need to grow, it is however too easy to sound as if we’re keen to save the institutional Church in Wales, to halt the closure of churches, and to keep the Church alive for the Church’s sake.

Let us resolve to make our message clear in 2018.  I am not interested in maintaining the Church for the Church’s sake, and I don’t want to preside over a thriving Church just so that we can point out what a marvellous Community we are.

Our message should be nothing less than the message with which Jesus started his ministry:  “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3.2)  All the work of 2020 Vision only has meaning if it can provide the base from which that message can be proclaimed loudly and boldly.  To repent is to turn towards to God – not just in the life-changing reordering that happens at conversion when we turn to Christ for the first time – but in the readiness to go back to the heart of our faith and renew our encounter with Jesus time and time again.  The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand because it is accessible whatever and whoever we are through the response of faith, coming to God in the quietness of our hearts, and making space for him.

Are we fresh in our faith and creative in our discipleship?  Are we excited and exciting in the way we live the Christian life?

Every year most of us begin with new year’s resolutions afresh, usually trying to address the things we failed to do last year.  As Jesus said to Martha: “One thing is needful.” (Luke 10.42)  That is to be liberated by our encounter with Jesus.  All of us have experienced both the joys and burdens that ordained ministry can bring, but let us come back to the one thing that can excite and sustain that ministry – the living presence of Christ, for it is the Lord of the Epiphany who said to us: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7.37,38)

My prayer for us all in 2018 is that we will be renewed by the faith that set us on our path of life, and by the God who calls us to ministry.

The Archdeacons

2018 is likely to see much change in the diocese, as the Venerable Peter Pike has indicated to me that he intends to retire shortly after his sixty-fifth birthday in September, and the Venerable Bob Griffiths has given me notice that he will retire at the end of July on attaining his sixty-sixth year.

In Peter and Bob, the diocese has been much blessed.  Their ministry among us could not be more different: Bob is a child of diocese and has served throughout his ministry with dedication and single-mindedness while Peter joined us for the last chapter of his stipendiary ministry from the Church of England in 2012.  They have also brought very different but equally valuable attitudes and skills to the same service – as Christian disciples, as priests, as archdeacons, and we have been blessed as a result.

There will be opportunities enough later in the year to thank them for their service, and to celebrate their achievements, but the process of appointment for a new archdeacon or archdeacons will start shortly.

Thankfully of course, John Lomas, remains with us, but as we begin together a new chapter for our common life, I do want to think carefully about the task with which we charge the archdeacons within the diocese.  I believe that we need women and men among us in leadership who can excite, empower and bless, and we need to structure archidiaconal ministry in a way which enables that essential role.

If you have any thoughts about the archdeacons’ ministry in this diocese, or about the person or persons best equipped to provide it, then you are encouraged to write to me at your earliest convenience.  There will also be an opportunity to discuss the ministry of the archdeacon in the diocese at the Clergy Synod.

Clergy Synod

I look forward to meeting with you all at our next Clergy synod, on Thursday, 25th January, at the St David’s Hotel, Ewloe, between 1000hr and 1500hr.  In the morning, we will look together in mission area groupings at the diocesan priority for Church Growth, and at plans for the new archdeacons, and in the afternoon, have a time when self-selecting groups can be formed for question and conversation with a variety of the leadership of the diocese, including myself, the Transition Missioner, the Ministry Officers, and the Diocesan Secretary.  I am also happy for mutual interest groups to arrange to meet themselves in this afternoon slot.  Any questions can be offered in advance of the Synod, by email, to our Director of Ministry, Manon Ceridwen James.  Please let Siân in Esgobty know of any dietary requirements you may have for the day.

Requests for absence should be directed to me at the earliest opportunity.

Communion of All the Baptized Extension

I also wish to confirm that, following the request in Governing Body, the bench have extended the period for the reception of the new practice of the Communion of all the Baptized has been officially extended to Advent 2018.  This is not a delay, but an extension, to allow churches that are still in discussion a longer period before full implementation.  Whatever the practice still being used in your church, no-one who has been admitted to Communion should ever be refused.

Confirmations in 2018

To date my office has only received three requests from Mission Areas to discuss their confirmation arrangements for 2018, despite a request for you to be in touch before November 10th.  I hope that the remaining eighteen mission areas can contact my office through the Mission Area Leaders to indicate their requirements within the next week, even if it is to indicate that they will be presenting candidates at the Cathedral at one the three services arranged for next year (as detailed below in the calendar).

Hwyl a Helo

I am pleased to inform clergy that Alexier Mayes is to move to Borderlands Mission Area, rooted in Connah’s Quay.  Alex has served in Cedewain following her curacy in Bistre, and it will be good to welcome her back to the north of the diocese.

David Child, in the Maelor Mission Area, rooted in the community of Overton, has indicated to me that he will retire from his ministry there in April.  David has given sterling service as an NSM priest since his ordination in 2004.

I am sorry to record the deaths of Lindsay Miller, wife of Andrew Miller, of Marlene Griffiths, wife of late Gerald Griffiths, and of Ann Chidgey’s father, Maurice Jarvis, who had been ill for some time.  Our thoughts and prayers go with all the bereaved, and we pray that God’s grace and mercy will be active and present for both the departed and those who mourn their loss.

Congratulations to Chris Feak and to Alison who are grandparents for the third time. Their daughter Clare recently given birth to Ezri Rose.  We wish them every blessing as a family.

Dates for your diary

The diary includes all those dates which are part of our common professional life, giving as much notice as possible. The clergy synods are a professional commitment for all serving clergy, and stipendiary clergy are expected unless leave of absence has been given.  Please note the next Clergy Synod, which is on 25th January, and the one after that on 27th September.


25 January                 Clergy Synod at St David’s Hotel, Ewloe

26 Ionawr                   Plygain Esgobaethol yn y Gadeirlan am 7.15yp


21/23/24 Feb               Ember Days*

31 March                     Easter Vigil and Confirmation, Cathedral, 1900hr

20 May                        Whit Sunday Confirmation, Cathedral, 1500hr

27/29/30 June             Ember Days*

30 June                        Petertide Ordination at the Cathedral 1000hr (including British Sign Language interpretation)

26/28/29 Sept.         Ember Days*

27 September           Clergy Synod at St David’s Hotel, Ewloe

13 October                  Diocesan Conference

12 December             Nicholastide Confirmation, Cathedral, 1830hr

19/21/22 Dec.              Ember Days*

*Please make specific use of the prayer leaflet prepared by the Director of Ministry, and remember our postulants and ordinands, by name if possible, in your prayers, not only on the Ember Days themselves, but in the intercessions in Church the following Sunday.

Notes and Queries 

Lent Prayer Cards

A last call for orders the Lent 2018 Prayer Card which has been composed by the Diocesan Youth Forum.   Please would you email Michael at Esgobty as soon as possible and no later Monday 8 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 25 January.

Y Gwasanaeth Plygain Blynyddol / The Annual Plygain service

Mi fydd y Gwasanaeth Plygain Blynyddol yn cael ei gynnal yn yr Eglwys Gadeiriol, Llanelwy nos Gwener, 26 Ionawr am 7.15 yr hwyr.

The Annual Plygain service will be held at St Asaph Cathedral on Friday, 26 January at 7.15 pm.

The Plygain begins with a short service of Evensong, and then the evening is open to anyone or any group who wish to offer their musical gifts. The whole evening will be led by Ven. Bernard Thomas, retired Archdeacon of St. Asaph. There will be refreshments afterwards.

Riding Lights Theatre Company

Many of you will know, or have heard of, this Christian theatre group, and their innovative and humorous productions.  They have developed an evening’s entertainment, “Where Adventure Begins”, which is designed to encourage parents in the joy of sharing faith with their children.  St Padarn’s Institute has arranged for a performance of this production at St. Mary’s Church, Broughton, in the evening of Tuesday, 6th February.  Tickets are £10 each, and are available from

Sabbatical Applications

Applications are open for two sabbaticals in 2019, and the information about eligibility and process is in the 2018-Sabbatical-Application-Form. As you will see from the information there is an expectation that those seeking a sabbatical make contact with Manon James, the Director of Ministry, before developing the proposal and before starting the sabbatical as well as when the sabbatical ends. Ideally these are face to face meetings in order to provide as much support as possible. There is also a requirement for a report to be submitted at the end. As ever, if you’d like to talk about this further please do contact Manon.

Training and Vocations

Details of all the training events for 2018 can be found in the Training Prospectus. You are reminded that all stipendiary clergy are required to attend two courses of your choice.  The training prospectus can be found here

The next event is held in early February:

Preaching Lent, Holy Week and Easter.  It will be led by Canon Roger Spiller, Vice Chair College of Preachers on 6 February between 10am–3pm at Gladstone’s Library, Hawarden. Booking requests should be directed to

Don’t forget if you have candidates you wish to support as they explore their vocation, you are encouraged to register those details with the Diocesan Director of Ministry and this can be done using an inquiry form. The form can be found at

With all my good wishes for the new year, and for all that 2018 will bring.

In Christ