"RADICAL change" is required, the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry
Morgan, said last Friday, after the publication of a wide-ranging
review of the Church in Wales.
The review, commissioned a year ago, was chaired by the Rt Revd
Lord Harries of Pentregarth, a former Bishop of Oxford. He was
assisted by Professor Charles Handy, a former professor at the
London Business School; and Professor Patricia Peattie, a former
chairwoman of the Episcopal Church of Scotland's standing
The review team consulted widely: it held meetings in all six
Welsh dioceses, which together were attended by more than 1000
people. It received written submissions; and it held meetings with
senior clergy, bishops' advisers, ordinands, and staff from St
Michael's College, Cardiff. It also met a delegation of young
The report's recommendations include: replacing parishes with
much larger "Ministry Areas"; using church buildings for multiple
purposes; training lay people to take more leadership positions;
and increasing the range of worship in order to "resonate with
those unfamiliar with church culture".
Dr Morgan said that many "internal reports" had already been
conducted about the state of the Church in Wales, but, "because
they come from inside, the Church has taken them seriously but
refused to act on them". The three people who conducted the review
came from outside the Church, "with no axe to grind, no vested
interest". The review's authors are "only reflecting back what
they've heard", he said.
Dr Morgan said that "it is up to the Church to act" on the
recommendations. Lord Harries will speak to the Church in Wales's
Governing Body in September, and will be questioned about the
There are no plans yet, however, to vote on whether to implement
its recommendations. But Dr Morgan said: "I sense our Governing
Body has reached a point where it knows that things can't stay as
The reasons for a review, which are listed in the report,
include "the expected retirement of large numbers of clergy in the
next few years, the shortage of ordinands, the joining of more
parishes than can be adequately ministered to by a single priest,
declining church membership, and the almost total distance of young
people in Wales from the Church".
The report continues: "One overwhelming impression we have
received is that the Church in Wales continues to have the
structure and organisation appropriate to an established Church 100
years or so ago, but which is now stretched beyond what it can or
should properly bear."
The review team argues that the parish system, "with a single
priest serving a small community, is no longer sustainable. . . A
change of perspective is needed: from parish to a much larger area,
and from a single priest to a team."
The report proposes replacing parishes with larger Ministry
Areas, led by a "leadership team containing lay people as well as
clergy". Each Ministry Area might contain "25 congregations or
churches", each of which should have "a designated leader and
To address the shortage of young people in the Church - in 2010,
only 5067 people under the age of 18 attended services on a Sunday
- "there should be one trained worker appointed in each leadership
team with a particular ministry to reach out to young people."
In each Ministry Area, there should be at least one service a
week "in which the form and style of worship is such as will
resonate ith those unfamiliar with Church culture".
The congregations in each Ministry Area should be
self-sustaining, and "responsible for raising enough money at least
to cover the full costs of its own ministry team, and an
appropriate proportion of diocesan costs".
"We need to give the laity more confidence that this is their
Church," Dr Morgan said. "They are the majority. Let's think a bit
bigger; let's not be so parochially minded."
Comment, page 11
CAMPAIGNERS who staged a
sit-in to save their church in Wales have given up, blaming the
Church in Wales's review proposals,writes Madeleine
Friends of All Saints',
Maerdy, in the Rhondda, had been told by the Archbishop of Wales,
Dr Barry Morgan, that they could buy the church for £1000 (
News, 4 August 2011). The PCC had previously voted to close it,
after the cost of repairs was estimated to be
A former churchwarden at All
Saints', Barbara Daniel, said: "It is now obvious that, had we
raised every penny necessary to repair All Saints' Church, under
the Archbishop's plan we would close anyway." A spokesperson for
the Church in Wales said that the Representative Body had sent a
draft lease to the Friends of All Saints' on 11 May and was still
waiting for a response: "Leasing the building for a year would have
given the Friends an opportunity to see if they were able to draw
up a proper business plan for the building, investigate grants and
raise the money needed to enable it to return to being a place of
worship." The Church in Wales would meet the
campaigners to discuss any concerns.