My father never used to make much of New Year. “It is only the artificial changing of digits on the calendar” he would say, although his resistance seems to have diminished in recent years. And yet, somehow the changing of the year, the moving on from Christmas, which was the focus of so much energy and labour, and the growing brightening of the evenings does lend us something of a spirit of a new beginning.
“Do everything without complaining or grumbling,” exhorted Paul in the letter to the Philippians, “that you might shine like stars amidst your generation.” (Phil. 2.14-16), and I am particularly struck by the fact that we are invited to be joyous and confident in the proclamation of our faith. So this is my new year’s resolution: to try to be more positive, joyous and hopeful in going forward with the mission of the Church.
Twice recently, the “Five Helps” issued to the clergy by Archbishop Michael Ramsey have been put across my path, and I think they’re worth quoting as we set out on 2019:
Through the year people will thank God for you. And let the reason for their thankfulness be not just that you were a person whom they liked or loved but because you made God real to them.
May God bless you richly as you go forward in ministry this year, and thank you for your continuing support and witness.
I am pleased to announce the appointment of Geoffrey Spencer, a recently retired cleric who has moved to north Wales, as House for Duty Associate Priest in Denbigh Mission Area, rooted in the communities of Henllan and Llanefydd. Geoffrey will be licensed on Sunday, 3rd February, in Henllan Church at 1500hr.
Among those being ordained Deacon this Petertide will be Simon Piercy, who will serve as an Assistant Curate in the Alyn Mission Area. Details of the other ordinands will follow in due course, as their titles are finalized. God willing, there will be six deacon and six priest candidates.
I am also delighted to announce that I have appointed Martin Batchelor to the Cursal Canonry recently vacated by Robert Rowland, who is now retired to Rhos-on-Sea. Martin has served as an outstanding Mission Area Leader, priest and organizing Chaplain of the Chaplaincy Team for Glyndwr University. Having helped the Parish of Bistre to get back on its feet, Martin has contributed in outstanding manner to the formation of Borderlands Mission Area.
I have also appointed Steve Green to the Honorary Canonry vacated by Ian Day. Steve is our longest serving cleric in the Diocese of St Asaph in the one location, and has served with faithfulness and distinction, not only in Shotton, but also as Director of Licensed Lay Ministry for many years. Joining Steve, Kate Tiltman will be taking on the Honorary Canonry vacated when Manon James joined the staff of St Padarn’s Institute. Kate has typified a model of sacrificial ministry, as well as leading the new Offa Mission Area successfully.
A Service for the Installation of Canons will take place at 1530hr in the Cathedral on Sunday, 10th February, and I should be grateful if as many as possible could join us to celebrate the outstanding ministry of these three priests.
Following his retirement, Mike West has moved back into St Asaph diocese, and I am pleased to say that he has accepted my invitation to become a Pastoral Chaplain.
Peter Walker has indicated to me that he will be taking retirement from his ministry in Aberconwy Mission Area at the end of March. Peter has earned the admiration of many as a priest poet, whose many books of poetry have reflected on the interplay of faith and doubt.
Sadly, several deaths occurred over the holiday period. I was particularly sorry to hear of the deaths of Evelyn Davies and Glyn Price. It will have seemed to many of us that Evelyn was going to go on forever, so great was her resilience, and dedication to her priestly ministry. The Lord called her home in December, and we remembered her life and witness with thanksgiving on 28th December. Glyn was also a faithful servant of the diocese, and suffered a massive stroke just into the New Year. Our thoughts and prayers go to both families at this time.
Our thoughts go also to Richard Carter, whose father George, died on 16th December, Barry Wilson, whose mother, Joyce, died on 17th December, and Sarah Errington, whose mother, Faith Farnham, died on 3rd January.
Give rest, O Lord, to these thy servants with thy saints, where sorrow and sighing are no more, neither death but life everlasting.
In the calendar below you will see details of the three annual diocesan confirmations (the Easter Vigil, Pentecost and Advent) to be held in the cathedral in 2019. I continue to 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 weeks to secure a date.
In recent years, the numbers for Confirmation have declined sharply. 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 for oneself to Christian discipleship and mission, and for Christians setting out in faith, or renewing their faith journey, 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. Samples of the material have been made available at
and I hope that sample copies will be available at Synod at the end of this month. I need to submit an estimated number of booklets which might be required for the diocese very shortly.
Do take a look at the resource and consider whether this course could be used in your Mission Areas. Please let Esgobty know if you wish to place an order for booklets, and we will feed those numbers in.
The triennial process of renewing PTOs is now complete, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank sincerely all those clergy who assist with public worship and play such an important part within our mission areas. There are some clergy who have decided the time is now right to step down from PTO service and I would like to thank them sincerely too for all that they have offered, many over a considerable number of years.
3 1500: Induction of Geoffrey Spencer as an Associate Priest in the Denbigh Mission Area, rooted in Henllan and Llannefydd
10 1530: Choral Evensong with the Installation of Canons in the Cathedral
Later in the Year
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 Advent 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.
Final 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.
A reminder that CYNNAL, the Churches’ Counselling Service is available throughout Wales for all clergy and their families and offers one-to-one counselling interventions and ongoing support and aftercare. CYNNAL deals with all manner of problems and holds regular counselling sessions in north Wales, including Colwyn Bay and Caernarfon. If you feel CYNNAL can be of help to you, please contact them on 029 2030 2101 or by email.
Registrations have been slow for the training session that will be offered by John Bell next week on Monday 14 January. John is one of the leading exponents of new approaches to worship in the Church today and brings the innovative and distinctive insights of the Iona Community to enlivening and enriching our worship. You can choose whether to attend in the afternoon (2-4pm) or evening (7-9pm). Please consider signing up for what should be a very stimulating and helpful event.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity traditionally takes place between January 18th -25th and bilingual resources can be found on the CTBI website.
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. I hope that your celebrations of Christmas and Epiphany will have been blessed, and that the new year will be sustained by the joyful and empowering presence of the Holy Spirit.
Diolch am eich amynedd - rydym yn gweithio ar gyfieithu ein gwefan a bydd y tudalennau Cymraeg ar gael cyn bo hir.