After the events of last weekend, we arrive at St David’s Day flush with a sense of celebration at Wales’ success in the rugby: twelve successive wins, England defeated. It got me thinking – what would success look like for the Diocese of St Asaph? Is it even appropriate to use the word “success” in terms of our life as a Church? Paul explicitly talked about winning the crown of victory in the race of life (2 Tim 4.8). One thing is certain, success for the Church might not look like success in the world’s terms, for surely success can only be in the quality of our faithful witness to the Kingdom of God. That might mean failure, even destruction and martyrdom in the world’s terms.
I remember discussion of a potential candidate for the episcopate some years ago – “Was he ambitious?” came the question. “Yes” came the answer, “but not for himself; he is ambitious for the Church.” And I think it is not inappropriate to be ambitious for the Church. We talk about targets for growth, but not because we aim to score highly on the league table for Sunday attendance. On that level the numbers don’t matter, except that we were commanded by Jesus to make disciples (Mt 28.19), and we aim to grow only to obey Jesus’ explicit command, and – I hope – because we believe that in turning to Christ we and those we evangelise find salvation and abundant life.
The Church in Wales is about to celebrate the centenary of its disestablishment. Have we made a success of it? If, and only if, in my opinion, we are faithful to Christ in our discipleship, and boldly and effectively hold out the invitation to repentance, faith and the fullness of life in Christ to the people of Wales. This is what we mean by “mission”.
By now, the Lent Prayer cards, with our daily Lent prayer should be well circulated among the Mission Areas. We hold a small remaindered stock here in Esgobty, and last minute requests for the prayer cards can be made to Martina, as we seek to use up the few remaining copies, and get them distributed in time for Ash Wednesday next week. You can also find the prayer on the prayer page of the website.
As you will already know, I invite all members of the Teulu Asaph to join with me in saying this prayer at 1800hr every evening during Lent. This year’s prayer has been composed by the Diocesan Engaging Group.
Also, a reminder again that 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 on the Diocese of Bangor website.
Do take a look at the resource and consider whether this course could be used in your Mission Areas. Please let the Diocesan Office know if you wish to place an order for booklets.
It will not be long before we are keeping this observance once again as usual at 1100hr on Maundy Thursday, April 18th in the Cathedral with the celebration of the Eucharist for the Blessing of the Holy Oils together with our Renewal of Commitment to diaconal, priestly and episcopal service as well as the commitment of all the baptized to mission.
This service is a genuinely diocesan event, and I stress again that all licensed and commissioned lay ministers and all members of our congregations are very welcome to this occasion in addition to all clergy, serving and retired. Clergy are requested as usual to robe in alb or surplice with white stole in the North Transept and then take a seat in the nave by 1050hr. Readers are also welcome to robe in surplice and scarf, while other licensed lay ministers may wear their cross, and members of the Order of St Asaph their insignia.
Lunch will follow as usual, and will be served in the South Transept. It will take the normal form of a hot main course followed by pudding. Everyone is very welcome to stay for this, however we do need to have an accurate estimate to give to the caterers. Mission Area Leaders are therefore asked to collate the numbers of those requiring food from their area and submit their numbers to Martina at Esgobty no later than Friday, March 29th please.
Would all clergy please liaise with their MAL indicating the number of people, including themselves, from their churches who will be staying for lunch?
A diocesan Confirmation will be held in the context of the Cathedral’s Easter Vigil once again. Martina is making contact to canvas for details of candidates, and anyone who is presenting candidates is asked to submit details to Esgobty as soon as possible.
The Vigil itself is a wonderful service (imho), but made better by a large attendance. Priests presenting candidates should encourage as many of their congregation as possible to attend in order to support those being baptized or confirmed, as the congregation can sometimes be a little thin and unexperienced in liturgy if it is restricted to the family and friends of the candidates.
We also encourage the practice of Mission Areas with candidates supporting the service, and bringing the paschal candles of the mission area with them to the liturgy. These are lit from the Cathedral’s paschal candle and processed out ahead of the recessional, as we carry Christ’s light out in mission to the world. It adds greatly to the symbolism. So – all are welcome and invited to support this service, especially if the Easter Vigil is not celebrated in your own Church.
I am delighted to announce the appointment of the Revd Sarah Burton as a priest-in-charge in the Vyrnwy Mission Area, to work especially with children and young people across the mission area. Sarah comes to us from Whittington, across the border in Lichfield, and brings an immense amount of experience, as well as a priest-husband, Richard.
At the same time, I am sorry to record the retirement of two of our most dedicated priests: Colin Mansley, Mission Area Leader of Denbigh MA, and Bryn Parry Jones, currently serving in Borderlands Mission Area. They will both be retiring from stipendiary service with their birthdays in October. We are deeply in debt for their gracious and caring ministry.
I have also received the resignation of Richard Hainsworth, who is taking a break from parochial ministry in order to parent Jacob and Grace, as Laura returns to full time work. Richard will continue to work part-time in St Padarn’s in his current role as a tutor for this diocese, and transfers to this new pattern in September. It’s good that we’re keeping him among us, and wish the family well.
It is now time to start inviting nominations for the Order of St Asaph in 2019 as we seek to recognise and honour the outstanding contribution of lay persons at diocesan level, particularly at an appropriate point on the completion of service in a particular way or in a particular role. Admission to the order is marked by the presentation of appropriate insignia, and those admitted to the order are listed on the diocesan website.
The nomination form should be returned completed with as much information as possible about a candidate’s contribution to the diocese. All members of the Teulu Asaph, whether clerical or lay, are encouraged to make nominations, which can also be submitted through any diocesan council or committee. Nominations forms should be submitted to me at Esgobty by the end of April, and will be referred to the advisory committee who will meet in early May. The admission to the Order will take place at Choral Evensong in the Cathedral in the Autumn, so watch this space for the date.
Understandably there are those who have offered sterling service to the church within a church / mission area context. Whilst the Order of St Asaph is intended to recognize diocesan service, I am happy to be approached about someone’s outstanding contribution to local church life that should be recognized. I will be happy to issue a suitable certificate that can be used by the particular church or the mission area for a local presentation. Please contact Ian or Michael at Esgobty in the first instance with appropriate details for me to consider
25 March 14:00: St Asaph Diocesan Mothers’ Union Lady Day Diocesan Festival Service, (Cathedral)
18 April 11:00: Chrism Eucharist (Cathedral)
20 April 20:00: Confirmation and Easter Vigil (Cathedral)
09 June 15:30: Pentecost Confirmation (Cathedral)
29 June 10:00: Petertide Ordination (Cathedral)
26 September Clergy Synod (all day)
12 October Diocesan Conference (all day)
10 December Advent Confirmation (Cathedral)
In addition to the provision of my pastoral chaplains, 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 / LivingRoom-Cardiff@cais.org.uk.
I am frequently asked how Siân and Michael are progressing, and the answer is that they’re both doing well. Siân is continuing with her treatment following good progress after her operation, and Michael is building up his strength ready for a phased return to work in the next couple of weeks. They express their thanks for all people’s prayers and expressions of support.
The Diocesan Youth Pilgrimage Expedition is now fully booked. This year’s group is the largest ever with 75% of the young people having never taken part before. Please pray for them as they prepare for this, both in terms of logistics and also practice walks!
I wish you all the very best for St David’s Day. Keep smiling.
Diolch am eich amynedd - rydym yn gweithio ar gyfieithu ein gwefan a bydd y tudalennau Cymraeg ar gael cyn bo hir.