A year ago protesters thought they had won their battle to keep open their church in Maerdy in the Rhondda where, as one worshipper put it, he was baptised and married and hoped to be buried from. But that is not to be. Yesterday they handed back the keys to the Church in Wales authorities who will be closing many more churches in Wales.
Dwindling congregations and huge repair bills dictate the economics of many a sad tale but the congregation of the aptly named All Saints decided to fight and won what they thought was a concession. They could buy the building for £1,000 instead of the asking price of £25,000 (with an estimated repair bill of £400,000). There was a note of irony in the Archbishop's comment that the Church in Wales would sell the building at that price provided it was kept as a place of worship.
Somewhat closer to upmarket Llandaff, but in a less well-heeled suburb at the other end of Cardiff, another church with a substatial repair bill is on the market while the congregation worship in the church hall next door. No doubt the building, like many others, will be maintained as a place of worship but probably not Christian worship as the artist's impression illustrates, a situation which sums up the shape of things to come in the multi-faith society favoured by the Archbishop despite the constant oppression of Christians around the world, mainly by Islamists.
Meanwhile back in Llandaff, the Dean has returned to the hills on retirement, leaving the Cathedral in the hands of the Archbishop who has somewhat dubiously appointed himself acting Dean on the unlikely grounds that there really hasn't been that much for Mr Dean to do or, more likely, that he needs time to canvass people abroad because, as demonstrated with two previous senior appointments, there is no-one in Wales thought up to the job. It is odd though that the Archbishop can find time to be Archbishop, Dean and, presumably, Vicar since he needed an Ass Bishop to help him run the diocese owing to his busy (political) schedule as Archbishop, not that the Ass can be much help as I hear that only sycophantic liberals with a feminist bent and a taste for stories about his time in York are prepared to let him anywhere near their church. But this is the shape of things to come in Wales. Mismanagement on a colossal scale has seen congregations dwindle and churches close while those remaining are pressed to give more and more to maintain a top-heavy institution. Nevertheless, the Bench of Bishops and their successors are assured of a future in the Church in Wales Review which recommends that in spite of everything, seven bishops should remain - no doubt to achieve the cherished liberal objective of seeing women in purple regardless of the cost. At least they will have each other to minister to!