THE Church in Wales is to launch its first resource church supported by Holy Trinity, Brompton (HTB).
The church will be situated at the original university church of St Andrew and St Teilo, Cathays, in Cardiff, currently a liberal Catholic church. This week, several members of the congregation expressed consternation about the plans.
A press release from the Church in Wales, issued on Tuesday, said that it would “seek to attract young people who are currently outside the church, eventually planting more church communities in the diocese. . . The plans mark a new transition in the life of St Teilo’s parish, which has a second church, St Michael and All Angels, a short distance away.”
On Tuesday, Phil Hawkins, the treasurer of the parish of Cathays, said that it was “appalling” and “a backward step” to press ahead with the plans “without proper consultation with the PCC”. He rejected any suggestion that it was a “failing church”.
An online petition, “Save St Teilo’s”, which has attracted more than 500 signatures, states: “We are clear in our resolve that St Teilo’s should remain an inclusive, flourishing, open church, and that the current congregation should be given the opportunity to continue its growth. . . We appeal to the Diocese of Llandaff to reverse its decision to place a new resource church in the place of ours. We the undersigned express our dismay that the decision was taken without consultation and we urge a change is made.”
The petition draws attention to St Teilo’s inclusivity and community outreach, which includes a monthly community café and arts programme administered by St Teilo Arts. It expresses concern about “an end to the traditional services, led by the choir”, and to “all the concerts, rehearsals and other activities that already go on in this church”.
Last year, musicians protested after St Sepulchre’s, Holborn, another HTB plant, closed its doors to commercial concerts (News, 25 August 2017).
A member of the congregation, Chris Mears, said this week that it was “remarkable that we have so far heard of no individual save the Bishop herself specifically supporting these plans”. At an open PCC meeting on Saturday, addressed by the Archdeacon of Llandaff, the Ven. Peggy Jackson, “expressed opinion was unanimously opposed”.
Chris Berry, who chairs St Teilo Arts, which has helped to fund the café, said: “I have yet to hear from anyone who has spoken in favour of this proposal.”
Several interviewees emphasised the importance of St Teilo’s welcome to LGBT worshippers. Oliver Townsend, who attended as a student, said that it was “the first church I had been able to go to with my boyfriend”. The church was “small in number but big in impact”.
Another member of the congregation, who has attended since the late 1990s, said that members of the congregation — which he estimated to be about 30 — were “devastated” by the plans.
But the Anglican Chaplain of Cardiff University, the Revd David Sheen, spoke in support of the plan.
While worshipping in the liberal Catholic tradition himself, he was conscious that a “lively, open Evangelical worship experience in the broad Anglican tradition” was “sorely lacking” in the area.
Other local churches worshipped in the “liberal, inclusive, central”, Anglo-Catholic, and conservative Evangelical traditions, but currently many Evangelical students were being “lost” to other non-Anglican churches.
“The Bishop’s plan is a good idea, and it’s something that I certainly have spoken about and sup ported for some time,” he said.
Funds for the resource church are being sought from the Church in Wales Evangelism Fund, which has made up to £10 million available to the six dioceses, in an echo of the Church of England’s Strategic Development Grants fund (News, 21 October 2016). The Church in Wales believes that the partnership will increase the congregation in an area with a large student population.
The diocese’s partner for the project is the Church Revitalisation Trust (CRT), which is based at Holy Trinity, Brompton. Incorporated as a charity in 2017 “to further the church planting activity which was previously undertaken by Holy Trinity Brompton”, the CRT is chaired by the Vicar of HTB, the Revd Nicky Gumbel. Last year, the diocese of London secured £3.9 million from the Church Commissioners to train 15 “planting curates”, at least ten of whom are to be trained at HTB, and the CRT is seeking to plant 100 city-centre resource churches by 2028. Among its activities is a 12-month “Accelerator Programme” to train leaders.
The project at St Teilo’s forms part of the diocese of Llandaff’s “Diocesan Vision” strategy, which was endorsed in September of last year at the diocesan conference.
The Bishop of Llandaff, the Rt Revd June Osborne, said this week: “St Teilo’s Church has been home to a wonderful ministry among many communities in the area over many years, and we look forward to working with them for this new chapter in the church’s ministry.
“There are just 75 members across the two churches in the benefice — St Teilo’s and St Michael’s — and those who are mission-orientated are engaged and supportive. The plans are also fully backed by the Deanery and the University Chaplaincy.”
The resource church is expected to be launched in the autumn of 2020, which is the Church in Wales’ centenary year.