A VISION of a United Church in Wales,
served by nine bishops, was presented in Aberystwth on Saturday at
The Gathering, an event attended by representatives of the five
covenanted Churches in Wales.
Seeking to bring to fruition a
covenant for "visible unity" made in 1975, representatives from the
Methodist Church, the United Reformed Church (URC), the
Presbyterian Church of Wales, the Church in Wales, and some
covenanted Baptist congregations heard "ground-breaking proposals"
set out in two reports, one on episcopacy and another on church
The Revd Gethin Abraham-Williams, who
chairs the Commission of Covenanted Churches, said on Tuesday that
the the goal was "a level of understanding between traditions about
oversight, the episcopal and non-episcopal model, and to see how
much they had in common, and whether that was sufficient to enable
non-episcopal Churches to consider becoming episcopal". Church
governance would, "in a sense, follow on from that".
The model proposed is for the six
Anglican dioceses in Wales to continue, alongside three new
"cultural dioceses" representing the Methodist, United Reformed,
and Presbyterian Churches. Nine bishops would serve the "United
An interchange of ordained ministries
"The object of the exercise is to
release energy for mission," Mr Abraham-Williams said. "How do we
communicate to contemporary Wales?"
In July, the Archbishop of Wales, Dr
Barry Morgan, called for "radical change" after the publication of
a review of the Church in Wales by a group chaired by the Rt Revd
Lord Harries of Pentregarth, a former Bishop of Oxford (News, 27
July). It highlighted challenges including the expected
retirement of large numbers of clergy, the shortage of ordinands,
and declining church membership; and argued that the parish system,
"with a single priest serving a small community, is no longer
Mr Abraham-Williams said on Tuesday
that congregations would have 18 months to reflect on the proposals
presented on Saturday.