THE Archbishop of Wales, the Most Revd John Davies, is to retire in May after four years in post.
Archbishop Davies, who will shortly celebrate his 68th birthday, has also served as the Bishop of Swansea & Brecon for the past 13 years. The 13th Archbishop of Wales, he was also the first Bishop of Swansea & Brecon to be elected as Archbishop. He will retire from both posts on 2 May.
Archbishop Davies is a former solicitor, specialising in criminal law. He had been heavily involved in the life of the Church at parochial, diocesan, and provincial level before he left law for the ordained ministry in 1984. After ordination, he completed a MA in canon law.
He served in rural, post-industrial, and urban parishes in the diocese of Monmouth, and as Diocesan Schools’ Officer and Officer for Ecumenical Affairs. He was appointed Dean of Brecon in 2000 before being elected Bishop in 2008.
A former church chorister, organist, and choirmaster, Archbishop Davies has a passionate interest in church music. He is married to Jo, a nurse, and has recently become a grandfather.
Announcing his retirement on Friday, he said: “Leadership is both a privilege and a challenge. During my time as both Bishop and Archbishop I have tried to exercise the first and face the second with vision, courage, and patience, always hoping to make the Church better equipped, better understood, less mysterious and more welcoming.
“In the current exceptionally trying circumstances, I have been immensely impressed with the compassion, imagination, and innovation with which so many have responded, succeeding in making the Church more accessible and, dare I say, relevant.
“At all stages of my ministry, I have been fortunate to have the support of many valued lay and ordained colleagues, from both within and outside the Church, and a wonderfully loving and understanding family. I thank all of them for that support, without which, the task would have been all but impossible.”
During his tenure, the Archbishop has focused on matters of social justice, speaking on a range of issues including homelessness and housing, rural problems, assisted dying, organ donation, and poverty. He has been chair of Housing Justice Cymru since it was launched in 2016, and has served as a trustee of Christian Aid, chairing its Wales National Committee for almost nine years from 2010.
He has also focused on growth and evangelism in the Church in Wales, which marked its centenary last year, including the launch of a £10 million evangelism fund.
Paying tribute, the Archbishop of Canterbury said that he had “greatly valued” Archbishop Davies’s “wisdom, his passion for the gospel and evangelism, and his skill and diplomacy in dealing with often complex situations. He has been a valued colleague not only as a fellow Primate in the United Kingdom and Ireland but also in the wider Anglican Communion.”
The Bishop of Bangor, the Rt Revd Andrew John, who will lead the Church until the election of a new Archbishop later in the year, said: “John has been steadfast and resolute in these most difficult of times, bringing much needed stability and offering a reassuring voice, both to those in the Church and to those in the wider community. On behalf of his fellow bishops, I thank him for the oversight he has given us and send him our very best wishes for a long and happy retirement.”