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Andy John is next Archbishop of Wales

06 December 2021

Church in Wales

The Rt Revd Andy John

The Rt Revd Andy John

A NEW Archbishop has been chosen for the Church in Wales. It is to be the Rt Revd Andy John, Bishop of Bangor, and the most senior bishop in the Church.

The Welsh electoral college met in Holy Trinity Church, Llandrindod Wells, on Monday. The meeting could have lasted three days, but Bishop John quickly secured a two-thirds majority, and his election was confirmed by the other five bishops.

Bishop John will continue to serve as Bishop of Bangor, as he has for the past 13 years. He will be enthroned at St Deiniol’s Cathedral, Bangor, at a date yet to be fixed.

He succeeds John Davies, who retired in May after four years as Archbishop (News, 23 April). Because of his seniority, Bishop John has already been taking a lead. He gave the presidential address at the last meeting of the Church in Wales Governing Body, and was one of the 52 faith leaders who signed the Glasgow Multi-Faith Declaration for COP26 in September (News, 20 September).

Andrew Thomas Griffith John was born in Aberystwyth on 9 January 1964. He graduated in law in Cardiff, before moving to St John’s Theological College, Nottingham, to study theology, graduating in 1988. He was ordained in 1989, serving as assistant curate of St Mary’s, Cardigan, with Mwnt and Y Ferwig until 1991. He returned to Aberystwyth to be curate in the Aberystwyth Team, becoming Team Vicar in 1992.

In 1999, he became Vicar of St David’s, Henfynyw, with Aberaeron and Llanddewi Aberarth with Llanbadarn Trefeglwys. He then spent two years, 2006-08, as Archdeacon of Cardigan (as well as Vicar of Pencarreg and Llanycrwys), before being consecrated Bishop of Bangor on 29 November 2008. He is a Welsh speaker.

The Archbishop-elect spoke on Monday of the “enormous privilege” of serving the Church. “As we look forward to the future, I’m very conscious that we’re not yet out of those restrictions that have inhibited our lives for so long.

“We face many challenges, but we do so not alone — we do so with God’s grace and with one another, because together we are so much stronger, so much better, and I’m confident that the Church in Wales will be able to respond with energy, with vision and with vigour to all the challenges which lie ahead of us.”

From an Evangelical background, Bishop John has embraced elements of other church traditions. (In past decades his marital status — he is in his second marriage after a divorce — would have been a bar to preferment.) He supported the latest move to allow same-sex couples to have their marriages blessed in church (News, 6 September), telling The National, a Welsh newspaper, in July: “I think this will make us . . . a Church that provides space for people who demonstrate by their lives that they can be wonderful disciples of Jesus Christ when they want to live in love with a person of the same sex.”

Addressing the Governing Body in September, (News, 10 September) Bishop John encouraged them to embrace novelty, as the Church in Wales faced up to the size of the challenge before it and the relative modesty of its resources.

“The ‘authority of the eternal yesterday’ must not be a millstone around our necks, but provide a basis for a courageous embrace of what God is doing in the world around us. Mission always lies at the heart of faith, and being alive to God, to what might happen next, is part of remaining curious and open to new opportunity.” And he concluded: “What is significant has never been the size of the challenge, but the scale of the faithful response.”

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