Conference to Preserve the Breadth of Anglicanism in Wales
On the evening of the first day of the Conference: “That Nothing Be Lost - Fel Na Choller Dim” hosted by Credo Cymru, a Solemn Eucharist was held at St Martin in Roath, Cardiff - at which the parish priest, Fr Irving Hamer, was the celebrant and the Rt Revd Philip North, the Bishop of Burnley, preached. This was a greatly uplifting celebration, with a highly-skilled choir, supported by enthusiastic singing from the congregation and set within a beautiful church possessing a tremendous acoustic.
In his homily, Bishop Philip admitted to employing an 'irritating rhetroical technique' in debating matters of faith and morals that actually worked rather well. More importantly, he emphasised that when we seek to improve the quality of our relationships as Christians: "... it is not a distraction from the mission. It is the mission, because our relationships point to people of God."
In grateful thanks to Bishop Philip, the full text of the homily is given here:
(above) from left to right: The Revd Canon Jeffrey Gainer (Chairman, Credo Cymru); The Revd Irving Hamer (Parish Priest, Roath St Martin); The Most Revd Barry Morgan (Archbishop of Wales) and The Rt Revd Philip North (Bishop of Burnley) Photo credit: Huw Riden
Living with Diversity: Bishop of Gloucester addresses Credo Cymru Conference
At a conference organised by Credo Cymru, the body representing traditionalist beliefs in the Church in Wales, the Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, has spoken about living with diversity over women’s ordination. ‘Key to my experience of living the English diversity in a healthy way’ she said, ‘has been a commitment to intentional relationship and mutual flourishing, and a willingness to live with hopeful imagination.’
The conference entitled: ‘That Nothing Be Lost: A Conference to Preserve the Breadth of Welsh Anglicanism’, was held in Cardiff on 21-22 September and attended by the Archbishop of Wales. It was characterised by diversity: the 34 participants (27 from Wales, 7 from England) included women ordained to all three orders, bishops and priests representing a range of views on women’s ordination, and lay members (predominantly female) of Credo Cymru.
The conversations were characterised by openness, honesty and listening, and a relaxed atmosphere. Both ordained women and traditionalists spoke of a new feeling of affirmation from those with whom they disagreed.
In opening presentations, the Ven. Dr Will Strange (Archdeacon of Ceredigion and Vice-Chair of the Evangelical Fellowship in the Church in Wales) spoke of the ‘silencing of the catholic voice’. Canon Joanna Penberthy called for ‘a conversation about how we work together’ but noted the significance of a cultural context opposed to discrimination. Fr Ben Rabjohns hoped not for comfort, or to be able to ignore the decision to ordain women as bishops, but – as a 30-year-old incumbent – for the security and certainty of a long-term future that were essential for traditionalists to be able to flourish. As a priest, he needed episcopal ministry that involved a continuing relationship, not just occasional episcopal acts.
In his keynote address, the Bishop of St Asaph, the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron, asked ‘hard questions’. Did the Church in Wales really mean what it said in the canon enabling women to be bishops – that traditionalists should be given ‘a sense of security in their accepted and valued place within the Church in Wales’? Did traditionalists really want to be in communion with the Bench of Bishops? He thought it ‘very, very unlikely’ that the Church in Wales would establish any form of supplemental episcopal ministry, but recognized that traditionalists needed a corporate life. He encouraged them to explore ‘double belonging’: loyal both to the fellowship of their diocese (with canonical obedience to the diocesan bishop) and to their own (non-political) fellowship (with ‘affective loyalty’ to a bishop, whose friendship, trust and relationships with the Bench of Bishops would be crucial).
Participants expressed commitment to continuing and extending the conversation in the dioceses and at the provincial level, possibly with facilitation. Building trust and reconciliation would require honesty (not least about past wounds on both sides), a willingness to listen, and a mutually gracious and affirming spirit. Existing friendships and our relationship within the Body of Christ would shape the context. The diversity of the Church in Wales was something to be valued.
The Chairman of Credo Cymru, Canon Jeffrey Gainer, said: ‘This was an opportunity for heart to speak to heart with integrity and charity. We are grateful to those of different views for their courage and generosity in coming to talk with us. I hope that the conversation will continue, drawing in others, and begin to transform our situation in the Church in Wales.’
(above) from left to right: The Rt Revd Gregory Cameron (Bishop of St Asaph); The Rt Revd Rachel Treweek (Bishop of Gloucester); The Revd Canon Jeffrey Gainer (Chairman, Credo Cymru) The Rt Revd Philip North (Bishop of Burnley); The Rt Revd Jonathan Goodall (Bishop of Ebbsfleet) and The Most Revd Barry Morgan (Archbishop of Wales).