At the Standing Committee this week, an important decision was taken to back a major initiative in the diocese: to establish a Resource Church in Wrexham, which will be opened in September 2020.
If we are to be committed to growing the number of disciples of Jesus Christ in this part of the world – and we are commanded to Jesus to do just this (Matthew 28.16-20) – then we have to develop a way of speaking to the 97% of the population of north east and mid Wales who rarely, if ever, attend Christian worship.
In my Advent message this year, I talked with three of the young people in the diocese. What is clear is that they do not wish just to attend Church, and be expected to sit respectfully in a passive way for worship which is done for them. They wish to participate, to be engaged in active Christian discipleship, and in changing the world for the sake of Christ. Nor should we be surprised by this, for we are called to do the same thing.
Advent is rapidly being secularized. People equate it now with the entire month of December, rather than the Church’s four Sundays before Christmas, and see it as a time of small indulgences in preparation for the big blow out which is the festival itself. Advent calendars, which used to help us prepare spiritually and sharpen our awareness of an anticipated feast, have turned into the occasion for daily treats, with anything from chocolates to make up or gin or virtually any other predilection which might tempt people to indulge.
I certainly don’t wish to go all sour-mouthed and negative in this season, but I do wish to ensure that the real good news is put at the centre of Advent and Christmas. With the Advent Message and Advent Calendar that are offered as resources this year, there are opportunities for positive engagement with the purpose of the season.
God bless your own keeping of Advent. May the busyness be complemented by investment in quiet spaces for prayer, for you, and for your congregation. Above all, pax et bonum: may there be peace and good things as gifts from God.
This year we are putting an Advent Calendar, with a link from the front page of the diocesan website, which will highlight some of the key themes of Advent, the good work being done across the Diocese, the key saints’ days in Advent and other Advent/Christmas related items. The Calendar will be found on www.dioceseofstasaph.org.uk and shared on facebook/twitter/Instagram. Every day, a spiritual window to assist in marking the season. Please encourage everyone to look it out, and to share the links too. For further information, please contact the diocesan communications officer, Karen Maurice.
My Advent Letter and Message for this coming Sunday is taking a different approach this year. On Advent Sunday, on Youtube and on the Diocesan Website, you will find a video presentation which is intended to be played in church at the main act of worship on Advent Sunday. If for any reason this is not possible, the written letter that is accompanying it is intended for duplication and distribution to your congregations so that members of the Teulu Asaph can watch the Advent Message at their leisure. Please ensure that every member of your congregation has the opportunity to view this Advent Message.
If you need any help accessing the film, please contact the diocesan communications officer, Karen Maurice on 01745 582245 / 07918 133420.
In the calendar below you will see details of the three annual diocesan confirmations (Nicholastide, the Easter Vigil and Pentecost) to be held in the cathedral in the remaining period of 2018 and 2019. I invite mission areas to submit plans for their confirmation requirements for next year, either individually or in partnership with neighbouring mission areas. Those wishing to book a confirmation are encouraged to contact my office within the next couple of months to secure a date.
In recent years, the numbers for Confirmation have declined. Perhaps the new approach to the admission to Communion has encouraged some to think that Confirmation is no longer necessary. Please do all you can to dispel this attitude. Confirmation should now be seen in its own right, not as the gateway to something else, but as the opportunity to make a mature commitment to Christian discipleship and mission, and for young Christians to be formally recognized and welcomed as part of the diocesan family by the bishop. If we are committed to growing the numbers of disciples of Jesus in this part of the world, we should expect to see the numbers of confirmations growing.
The GenRus provincial group have collaborated with the Revd Janet Fletcher to produce an interesting and engaging Lent course on the theme of ‘Generosity and the Inheritance of Lent’. It is not just about money, but our attitude towards generosity as an aspect of Christian discipleship, and I commend it to you. The course comprises of several elements including group discussion sessions for the weeks of Lent, Holy Week and then unusually it also leads onto Ascension and Pentecost.
There are various study materials which include a course booklet. It is anticipated that these materials will be ready in January for distribution, but I need to submit an estimated number of booklets which might be required for the diocese very shortly. Please let Esgobty know if you wish to place an order for booklets, and we will feed those numbers in.
Jonathan Smith has become a grandfather for the first time, Harry Cockerill was born recently, while Val Rowlands has become a grandmother for the 4th time. Gruffudd Elis was born 3 weeks early at the end of October. We wish these families congratulations and every blessing and joy, especially at this Advent season.
Meanwhile, I am sorry to announce the resignations of two members of the clergy: Lorraine Badger-Watts, who is moving to a living in the Diocese of Chelmsford, and Danny Evans, who is moving to secular employment. We will miss the ministries of these two clerics immensely, but we wish them and their families well as they move on to pastures new.
02 December: The Licensing of Peter Mackriell as a Priest-in-Charge in Maelor Mission Area, St Mary The Virgin, Overton, 1500hr.
09 December: The Licensing of Lee Taylor as a Priest-in-Charge in Valle Crucis Mission Area, St Collen’s Church, Llangollen, 1100hr.
12 December: Nicholastide Confirmation, Cathedral, 1830hr.
19/21/22 December: Ember Days*
18 April: Chrism Eucharist (Cathedral)
20 April: Confirmation and Easter Vigil (Cathedral)
09 June: Pentecost Confirmation (Cathedral)
29 June: Petertide Ordination (Cathedral)
12 October: Diocesan Conference
10 December: Nicholastide Confirmation (Cathedral)
Advance notice that the next Clergy Residential School will be held between Monday 20th – Thursday 23rd September 2021, at The Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Derbyshire. This is regarded as a professional commitment for all stipendiary clergy, and as a strongly encouraged invitation for all other ordained ministers and ordinands, so please do put it in your diary now.
The Office at Esgobty will close at 5pm on Thursday, December 20th and will reopen at 9am on Monday, January 7th, 2019. During the Christmas break please refer any matters of emergency to Archdeacon John or Archdeacon Barry in the first instance. Emails will be monitored but may not be actioned.
Please would the cleric who borrowed a plain wooden crosier from me in the summer, return it to Esgobty as soon as possible. Sadly, my memory fails me as to who took it, but to jog memories, the cleric concerned was in Esgobty Chapel with me in the course of a meeting in the Summer and asked to borrow the crozier to act as a prop in an assembly they were doing in school either about bishops, or about Jesus as the Good Shepherd. If you have conducted a school assembly on that theme in the last eight months, please search your memory or your conscience.
The next cycle of Ember Days begins on 19th December. Please pray for vocations to ministry and for those in training in the diocese. The Embertide Leaflet is available for your use, and please ensure that all your congregations are aware of this important season and subject for prayer.
Orders are now invited from each mission area for the Lent 2019 Prayer Card which has been composed by the Engaging Steering Group. Michael at Esgobty looks forward to receiving one order per mission area as soon as possible and no later than Monday, January 14th. The prayer cards will be available for collection at the Clergy Synod day on Thursday, January 31st.
Those who have successfully reapplied for Permission to Officiate will be receiving their certificates during December. There are still some clergy who have not sent in the paperwork to renew their PTOs for the next three years. This needs to be done with all urgency (i.e. within the next week) if clerics wish to continue offering a public ministry in the new year.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity traditionally takes place between January 18th -25th and bilingual resources are available.
My thanks again to you for all that you are doing to support the work of God in our family and in north east and mid Wales. With my best wishes for the upcoming holy seasons,
Diolch am eich amynedd - rydym yn gweithio ar gyfieithu ein gwefan a bydd y tudalennau Cymraeg ar gael cyn bo hir.