Bishop’s Ad Clerum – March 2018

1af o Fawrth 2018 March 1st

Dydd Gŵyl Dewi : St David’s Day

Annwyl Gyfeillion,

As St Davids Day dawns, I had hoped, until the snow got in the way, to be attending Wales’ first ever National Prayer Breakfast. These sort of events are common in the States, where they have a distinct evangelical flavour, and they have become more popular in British political culture more recently with an annual Westminster event, and now we have one in Cardiff Bay.  It has been organized from the political end, where a group of Christian AMs have taken the lead to invite religious leaders to gather with them to pray for the nation.

Church State relations are not always easy – politicians can resent Church leaders speaking out on issues other than personal faith, and there are a few church members who feel that any attention given to peace and justice issues somehow imply a neglect of the proclamation of the Gospel and the call to personal faith in Jesus Christ.

I believe that God has set us in the world to be his agents of change, which means not only calling people to repentance and faith in their hearts, but calling society to repentance and faith in God’s values, prioritizing justice, peace and the care for the poor, the stranger and the outsider.

And I certainly hope that the National Prayer Breakfast will enable at least a three way conversation, as the church leaders listen to the politicians about how the Churches may contribute to a Wales in which all can flourish, and the politicians find room to listen for the concerns of the Church in a way which challenges any expedient agenda. But the third conversation may be the most important one of all, as church leaders and politicians take the opportunity not to bombard God with their requests and ideas, but to wait upon God for his wisdom and strength to walk in the truth.

Chrism Eucharist

I am looking forward to seeing you all in the Cathedral at 1100hr on Maundy Thursday, March 29th for the celebration of the Eucharist with 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. All are warmly invited to continue our fellowship over lunch in the south transept following our worship.

Clergy are requested to robe in alb or surplice with white stole in the Lady Chapel and then take your seat in the nave by 1050hr. Readers are also welcome to robe in surplice and scarf, other licensed lay ministers to wear their cross, and members of the Order of St Asaph their insignia.

Siân at Esgobty looks forward to hearing from mission area leaders with the numbers of those requiring food from their mission areas.   MALs are asked to submit numbers to Siân by Friday, March 9th.   Would all clergy please liaise with their MAL indicating the number of people from their churches who will be staying for lunch.

Retired Clergy Association

The future shape of the Retired Clergy Association is very much in the hands of its members and to that end I am extending a warm invitation to the retired clergy and spouses and widows living in the diocese to join me for afternoon tea during which there will be an opportunity to discuss how the Association can best meet the needs of retired clergy and provide appropriate fellowship and support. An afternoon event will be held in each of the archdeaconries on the following dates and I look forward to welcoming retired clergy then:

  • St Asaph Archdeaconry: March 21st at The Oriel House Hotel, St Asaph, 1500hr
  • Wrexham Archdeaconry: April 24th at The Ramada Hotel, Wrexham, 1500hr
  • Montgomery Archdeaconry: May 1st at The Royal Oak, Welshpool, 1500hr

The Order of St Asaph

A reminder of the invitation for anyone wishing to offer nominations for the Order of St Asaph in 2018 to do so by the end of April, 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 on the diocesan website.

Nomination forms 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 these will be referred to the advisory committee which will meet in early May.  This year’s admission to the Order will take place at Choral Evensong in the Cathedral on Monday, October 1st at 1800hr.

Understandably there are those who have offered sterling service to the church within a church / mission area context. Whilst the Order of St Asaph is intended to recognize diocesan service, I am happy to be approached about someone’s outstanding contribution to local church life that should be recognized. I will be happy to issue a suitable certificate that can be used by the particular church or the mission area 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 very sorry to be saying goodbye to one of our very talented set of clergy couples. Mary Stallard and Andrew Sully came to us in St Asaph in 2002, having served previously in St Davids and in Monmouth. Now they are to move on to the Diocese of Bangor, and we warmly congratulate Mary on her appointment as Archdeacon of Bangor and Andrew on his appointment to the living of Llandudno.   This means that we will keep them, of course, as close friends and neighbours. Both Mary and Andrew are hugely creative and dedicated, committed to an inclusive and dynamic future for the Church, and they will bring considerable gifts to their new diocese. We wish them all the best for their future ministries, which will begin shortly after Easter.

Save the Date: Course on Spiritual Direction

As you will know there has been a flourishing College of Spiritual Directors in the diocese that would welcome new recruits, ordained and lay, to their ranks. The College of Spiritual Directors are working with Bangor diocese in order to deliver training based in Betws y Coed for new spiritual directors. If you would like more information or to register your interest in the course please contact Janet Fletcher, Bangor Diocesan Spirituality Officer on 01654 711792 or and put the following dates in your diaries. Deadline for course applications is 28th April 2018

The dates of the Course for 2018/19 :  Betws y Coed:

2018 – 15th September, 13th October, 10th November, 8th December.

2019 – 12th January, 16th February, 23rd March, 11th May, 1st June, 20th July, 14th September, 12th October.

The Bangor-Spiritual-Director-training includes topics such as discernment, developing listening skills, images of God, images of the self, good practice, unhealthy practice, and what is spiritual direction.  We’ll look briefly at Julian of Norwich, Ignatius of Loyola, John of the Cross and others.  There is no charge, and it is of course open to everyone. All that’s needed at this stage is a sense that God is calling you to a ministry of spiritual direction. All the dates have to be attended including the retreat.  Once the group is together it may be that occasional dates are re-arranged with the agreement of the group.

In order to be admitted to the diocesan college of spiritual directors there will be further discernment as well as the completion of the course and two brief pieces of written work. For more information on the St Asaph College of Spiritual Directors please contact John Foxlee.

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 is on 27th September.


21 March                      St Asaph Archdeaconry retired clergy gathering, Oriel House Hotel, St Asaph, 1500hr

29 March                     Chrism Eucharist, Cathedral, 1100hr

31 March                      Easter Vigil and Confirmation, Cathedral, 1900hr

Later in the year

15 April                         Licensing of Alexier Mayes, St Mark’s Church, Connah’s Quay at 1530hr.

24 April                         Wrexham Archdeaconry retired clergy gathering, Ramada Hotel, Wrexham, 1500hr

01 May                          Montgomery Archdeaconry retired clergy gathering, The Royal Oak Hotel, Welshpool, 1500hr

03 May                         Confirmation for Maelor MA, 1900hr, venue t.b.c.

20 May                         Whit Sunday Confirmation, Cathedral, 1500hr

24 June                        Eucharist to Celebrate Ordination Anniversaries, Cathedral, 1100hr.

Wrexham MA Confirmation, St Giles’ Church, Wrexham, 1500hr.

27/29/30 June            Ember Days*

30 June                        Petertide Ordination at the Cathedral 1000hr (including British Sign Language interpretation) Preacher: The Rt Revd and Rt Hon Lord Williams of Oystermouth

01 July                           Mold and Borderlands MAs Confirmation, St Peter’s Church, Northop, 1500hr.

05 July                          Alyn MA Confirmation, 1900hr

26/28/29 Sept.         Ember Days*

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

29 September           LLM Annual Convention

01 October                  Admissions to the Order of St Asaph during Evensong, Cathedral, 1800hr

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

Please find details of the Theological Society programme on March 6th in Bangor Cathedral, as well as details of a Welsh Language Retreat.

 Mothering Sunday liturgy

As we prepare for Mothering Sunday the Mothers’ Union website has excellent resources for Eucharistic and non- eucharistic services: Sunday

 SWTA Lent Appeal

The theological college in our twin diocese of SW Tanganyika has 50 students but no books. During Lent our South West Tanganyika Link Association is encouraging each church in the diocese to sponsor the purchase of a substantial theological book for the Diocese of South West Tanganyika’s Christian Training Centre through a gift of £20. The books for the Centre’s library will be purchased in Dar Es Salaam and the gift of £20 per church per book, will be acknowledged through the special bookplate, naming the donor, that will be inserted when members of the SWTA team next visit in the summer. The list of books has been identified for the college, and although we can’t guarantee a particular title to a particular church, we would like to think of each church having a link with a specific volume.

It would be good to think that every church community in the diocese, along with individuals if they wish, can support our brothers and sisters in South West Tanganyika in their vocational formation and theological learning.  Donations will be most gratefully received by the Diocesan Office, with cheques made payable to ‘St. Asaph-DBF – SWTA’ please.

Thy Kingdom Come

The ten days that lead up to Pentecost Sunday is traditionally a time when we particularly pray for the Holy Spirit’s power and gifts in the building up of the church, and for their use in our witness as we seek the coming of God’s Kingdom in all its fullness.

As part of this period of prayer, the bishops are encouraging the faithful to join in the international ecumenical initiative ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ between Ascension and Pentecost, 10-20 May 2018. More details and resources can be found at: Michael will be in touch in due course with those MALs who have ordered ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ resources to organise delivery.

I wish you well as you continue your Lenten observance, and for your celebration of Easter. As ever, this Ad Clerum comes with my thoughts and prayers.

In Christ,