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Church in Wales Governing Body: News in brief

28 April 2023

Dave Custance

Anthony Griffiths, the Director of Safeguarding for the Church in Wales

Anthony Griffiths, the Director of Safeguarding for the Church in Wales

Safeguarding update

THE Director of Safeguarding for the Church in Wales, Anthony Griffiths, brought the Governing Body up to date with work undertaken, and explained the team’s continuous improvement approach.

He acknowledged that there had been a lack of awareness and knowledge around safeguarding in the past: many had got it right, but there had been a lack of consistency. It was always primarily about prevention, he emphasised.

The recommendations relating to safeguarding in the Monmouth Review had all been implemented. The emphasis, Mr Griffiths said, was on “setting our own high standards as well as undertaking external scrutiny. We have made some good gains over the past two years.”

 

Bench of Bishops

THE Bishops were meeting on a much more regular basis in a new pattern, the Archbishop said, with half the time of their three-day meetings committed to prayer and reading scripture. “We see ourselves as a group of people with responsibility to each other and to the Church,” he said.

“The process and careful building up will be transformational in our life together. We hope to keep the balance together, taking responsibility for broad action and also our everyday concerns as bishops.”

Christopher Dearden (St Asaph) said that the importance of working together could never be underestimated. He wanted to know whether the minutes of meetings were made public — or were they even taken? The Bishops should consider producing more expansive detail of what had been discussed.

Canon Richard Lightbown (Monmouth) said that the Bench was implicitly committed to issues of socio-economic justice, “but it doesn’t feel very explicit. There were no explicit references in the report.” Was there any way of making the implicit more explicit, “so the voiceless sit somewhere near the top? Our Church is biased towards the poor.”

Hannah Rowan (co-opted) reflected on the relationships of power and vulnerability in church-based contacts. “Do we have a clear awareness of the vulnerabilities of power imbalances? What are you doing as a system to allow vulnerable people to ask questions relevant to their futures?”

The Revd Dr Peter Lewis (Llandaff) was looking at the allocation of jobs to the Bishops, and had noted a gap in Deaf Church. Here was an opportunity “to do something to help people understand how God is working through this group of people”.

Caroline Woollard (Monmouth) wondered when the Faculty System Review would start; and the Revd Kate O’Sullivan (Monmouth) spoke about how the Dignity Charter operated when it was clergy being bullied: “We need to find a way of finding clergy space where they can say this, and for it to be taken seriously with consequences for those doing the bullying.”

 

St Padarn’s Institute

THE Governing Body voted unanimously to take note of the annual report from St Padarn’s Institute. It heard from both the Dean of Discipleship, Dr Mark Griffiths, and the Dean of Ministerial Training, Dr Manon Ceridwen James.

There are currently 28 candidates training for non-stipendiary ministry, and 24 for stipendiary ministry. The trend towards greater numbers of candidates being female continues, and, in 2021-22, one third of the stipendiary candidates were male and two-thirds female.

The report analyses the age of commencing training for stipendiary ministry. Of the eight men, two were aged between 20 and 29; four between 30-39; one between 40 and 49; and one between 60 and 69. Of the 16 women, five were aged between 20 and 29; two between 30 and 39; five between 40 and 49; and four between 50 and 59.

More than half the ordinands came from England, which made for a good cohort. But the key for growth and development was producing leaders from within Wales: “If we have to import half, we need to give attention to that,” Dr Griffiths said.

He also observed, “The most popular course was the pre-retirement course, which was so popular, we had to put on two. . . These are some of the tensions we find ourselves in at the moment.” But it was good news that the Welsh government had informally agreed a Christian ministry apprenticeship framework, which would be one key to developing young priests and leaders.

Dr James suggested: “St Padarn’s is playing its part in being outward-facing to the community it serves. It has also been responsive to the wider demographic of people coming into ministerial formation. But we are very monochrome as a Church. Our churches need to reflect the communities they serve.”

That brought a response from Grace Okutubo (Llandaff), who asked how to ensure that diverse congregations were being nurtured, and what was being done to increase diversity from one year to another? She noted that Trinity Bristol had appointed a diversity director, and wondered if this was the way to go.

The Archdeacon of Llandaff, the Ven. Rod Green (Llandaff), described St Padarn’s as “a credible resource for the Church in Wales. It turns out evangelistic and missional people who love Jesus.”

 

Net zero target

THE head of property services for the Representative Body, Alex Glanville, and the Climate Change Champion for the Church in Wales, Dr Julia Edwards, brought the Governing Body up to date with progress towards net zero carbon by 2030.

Mr Glanville described it as a bold ambition. “We are overall starting to build momentum, but there is a long way to go,” he said. “I’m absolutely confident. We are God’s Church. We can do anything.”

He and Dr Edwards took the meeting through the ten-point plan for local churches, including registration with A Rocha Eco Church “to go forward in a structured way”, and the development of a specific heating strategy. “You don’t need to rip out your boiler today. Take the opportunity to think ahead, to think differently. Think about what will happen in the future,” Dr Edwards urged.

Churches are also urged to measure their carbon footprint using the Church in Wales’s new Energy Footprint Tool (News, 14 April). This was demonstrated live at the meeting, where Dan Priddy (St Davids) input the data for St Michael’s, Aberystwyth, described as “a large, old, and draughty building.” It has had an LED lighting upgrade. It is open for 53 hours a week, and is heated by “a large overhead gas heater”.

Dr Edwards took the meeting through the data-entry process, describing the tool as “a starting point, a baseline”.

 

ACC-18 report

THE most compelling delivery of the meeting came from Brianna Rouse, one of the Governing Body’s co-opted members under the age of 30. Together with Bishop Stallard, she recounted her experience as a Church in Wales representative at the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Accra, in February.

She had been especially struck by a visit to Cape Coast Castle, where Africans were held before being transported on British slave ships. “It was one of the most profound experiences. We found it difficult to hold back our emotions,” she said.

She recalled the Bishop of Maryland, the Rt Revd Eugene Sutton, asking, “Where is God in all this? Why does he hate black people? Did he not hear our cries?”

The fortress had been been built below the church established by SPG, who “worshipped above the noise and stench of the prisoners below”, she said. “What gospel is it to which the Church claims to be witnesses today? For our sisters and brothers who daily breathe unclean air, what does it mean to treasure creation?”

 

Representative Body

A SCHEDULED meeting of the Representative Body in June will consider how the total funding from the £100-million Church Growth Fund, announced in November 2022, will be allocated annually among the dioceses, from 1 January 2024 to 31 December 2032.

It will also discuss how the funds might be used to stimulate conversations about areas of work which would be better done together. The Distribution of Funds Group is chaired by Professor Medwin Hughes, and includes the RB’s Finance Committee, a cathedral dean, a diocesan secretary, and a diocesan finance officer.

The group includes a member of the governing body elected from within its membership, and because a dead heat resulted between the Revd Dr Jason Bray (St Asaph) and the Revd Dr Peter Lewis (Llandaff), both men were accepted members of the group.

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