GOODBYES have been said to the only residential theological college in Wales — St Michael’s, Llandaff — as the Church in Wales prepares for an extensive shake-up of its training.
A new cross-province body, St Padarn’s Institute, has been set up in its place. It incorporates St Michael’s, besides running various other types of theological education in Wales.
The Bishop of Monmouth, the Rt Revd Richard Pain, said that 2016 would be a “historic” year for theological training in the principality. A national reorganisation was almost complete, he said, with 90 per cent of the training now being devolved to the dioceses.
The closure was sad, Bishop Pain said. “[St Michael’s] is in our DNA for many of us [bishops]. For the most part, we are grateful for those formative years.” He said that, if the Church is to grow in the future, stipendiary clergy should focus on mission and outreach, and be ready to engage with communities where Christianity is on the margins.
“I’m fed up now of being embarrassed of being a Christian,” he said. “We have something to offer the world, and we should be proud of it.”
The new Principal of St Padarn’s, Jeremy Duff, said that the Institute aimed to deliver the Church’s 2020 Vision: to see the Church in Wales flourishing, and “communities transformed by God’s love”.
He concluded by urging against cynicism. Despite decades of secularisation, Wales today was still more Christian, and the Church stronger, than it was in St Padarn’s day in the sixth century.
The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, said that all the bishops were convinced that this was the right direction for the Church. He also paid tribute to the staff and students of St Michael’s.
Carol Cobert (Llandaff) said that she wanted to give thanks for all that St Michael’s had provided over the decades, and, in particular, for those it had prepared for ordained ministry. As the chair of the Friends of St Michael’s, she acknowledged that saying goodbye was hurtful, but she also looked forward to a “progressive ministry for the future with St Padarn’s”.
The Governing Body voted in favour of the motion.
That the Governing Body:
receive the Report of St Michael’s College, Llandaff;
thank the staff, past and present, of St Michael’s College and St Seiriol’s Centre and all those engaged in training for ministry over the years;
welcome St Padarn’s Institute as the Theological Education Institute of the Church in Wales and endorse the initiatives in new forms of ministry.