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Morgan calls for remodelling of Archbishop's role in Welsh Church

25 September 2015

Gavin Drake reports from the Church in Wales's Governing Body

Philip Morris

“Calling for a new kind of archbishop”: Dr Morgan delivers his presidential address

“Calling for a new kind of archbishop”: Dr Morgan delivers his presidential address

THE Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, used his presidential address to call for a new kind of archbishop for the province.

He began by reminding the Governing Body (GB) that the review of the future of the Church in Wales carried out by the former Bishop of Oxford Lord Harries, had recommended fixing the archiepiscopal see in Llandaff — the diocese that is based on Cardiff — and that an area bishop for Llandaff should carry out most diocesan functions in a similar model to that used in the diocese of Canterbury with the Bishop of Dover.

This recommendation had been placed in the lowest priority by the Church’s implementation group, Dr Morgan said, “because the Church had tried and failed to resolve the location of the archbishop on several occasions in the past”.

The question of the archiepiscopal see, he said, “has been the subject of several reviews and GB motions in the past, none of which have resulted in a change to the status quo”.

He said that the question had been studied in 1980, in 1992, in 2007, in 2008, and again in the Harries review.

“The issue, of course, will not go away, and the present Standing Committee now feels it is right to test the present thinking of the dioceses on this issue. By coincidence, I intended speaking on it in my presidential address, and the Standing Committee hopes that this may help the discussion in the dioceses. I am not holding my breath.”

Currently, the Church in Wales elects its Archbishop from one of the existing bishops. This means that the archiepiscopal see moves around the province. When the Archbishop is based outside Cardiff, this results in additional travel and administrative costs, and can be an added burden.

He did not support the idea of a full-time archbishop, devoid of a diocese, as in Canada and the United States. “Any archbishop is first and foremost a bishop,” he said, “and the task of a bishop is to ordain, confirm, and pastor. He is not the chief executive of the Church, but a father-in-God, and I believe he or she needs a distinctive area of jurisdiction and pastoral care which he can call his own.”

Nor did he support the current model. “In 1920, with only four dioceses and a more leisurely pace of life, that was fine; but four of my 11 predecessors have said that this model is at breaking-point, or have found the post very demanding for different reasons. I add my voice to that chorus.”

He put forward for consideration his own model for the archbishopric: “I start from the premise that the Archbishop needs to be located in Cardiff,” he said. “I know that Cardiff is not Wales, but neither is Brecon, St Davids, Aberystwyth, or Bangor.

“The diocese of Llandaff should have two — possibly three — bishops, and possibly in the future, though that is not part of what I am advocating now, be linked with the diocese of Monmouth.

“It would be one diocese with two or three bishops, each bishop being a bishop in the full sense of that term, with each bishop having his or her own territorial jurisdiction, but with the bishops as a college administering the diocese in partnership.

“It would make sense for the Archbishop to have the Llandaff and Cardiff deaneries as the sphere of his episcopal jurisdiction, and he or she would be elected to that post as Archbishop. Then another bishop or bishops, again with the status of present diocesans, would be elected to other areas of the diocese, and together the two or three of them would form a college to administer and oversee the administrative unit we call the diocese, with one of the other bishops chairing the committees and councils of the diocese.”

Dr Morgan said that his model was an option for consideration.


Redundant churches

THE Governing Body approved a series of motions from the Representative Body (the CiW’s trustees) calling for changes to the constitutional rules on redundant churches.

The changes will allow proceeds from the sale of churches, church sites, and churchyards to be used for paying for specialist advice to help parishes manage the treatment of the contents of closing churches; and for works to churchyards where there is “a substantial physical danger to persons or property”.

The changes will also extend the Representative Body’s insurance to cover closed churches.

The Governing Body also agreed that the Parsonages Improvement Fund can be used to provide a parish office in other buildings owned or leased by the Representative Body, in cases where the personage is unsuitable.

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