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Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Today Maerdy, tomorrow Cardiff? The Church in Wales is unravelling but the bishops are safe

 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!


  1. Joseph Golightly2 August 2012 at 20:02

    Is it really as awful as this blog seems to be telling us. Is the Church in Wales broke?

    1. No, of course it isn't. It just suits the fantasy of these guys who like to whisper caustic criticism from their anonymous wings but would never survive a minute centre-stage.

    2. Merddyn Llewellyn3 August 2012 at 08:36

      Fantasy, uh? From the Llandaff Diocesan Stewardship Advisor, (Governing Body September 2011), “So often in the Church (in Wales) we move from one half-baked initiative to another, often at great financial cost with little or no thought at measuring outcomes and the difference we make, and learning lessons for future strategy and work… We have experienced an alarming rate of decline in average attendance, and that is clearly undermining our ability to perform financially particularly at a parish level… Large numbers of parishes are having to dip into diminishing reserves to make ends meet.”

    3. Joseph, what is published is the reality of the situation based on evidence in the public domain and what I hear from (mainly disillusioned) church members.

      All Saints, Maerdy will probably be the next redundant church to be added to the fifteen currently offered for sale on the Church in Wales list -

      Looking from the outside the position is dire based on an independent review which found that "The Church in Wales faces terminal decline without some radical re-thinking -

      Announcing the Review Archbishop Morgan said: “In commissioning such a review, we will all have to be prepared to take seriously its findings and to be open to the possibility of significant change in our structures, ministry, use of buildings and other resources if it is seen to be in the best interests of the church and its mission to the people and communities of Wales as we look ahead to the next decade. We believe as a Bench and Standing Committee, that a combination of our own insights, those of GB Members and those from this Group, will help us become the kind of Church God wants us to become.” -

      From a Universal Church perspective, or just within the Anglican Communion, the Church in Wales and even the Church of England are bit players yet Dr Morgan felt able to claim that this is the kind of Church "God wants us to become", the same attitude that claims the work of the Holy Spirit for liberalism and the work of the devil for tradition.

      While the shepherds are assured of their future their flock faces uncertainty other than the need to keep giving. As one parishioner in Maerdy observed, they were struggling simply to survive but they still had a letter from Llandaff Cathedral asking for a contribution their £1.5 million cathedral organ fund. - There's mission to the people and communities of Wales for you!

  2. Merddyn Llewellyn2 August 2012 at 20:45

    Yes Joseph it is completely and utterly broke. The sad thing is that the illustrious Bench of Bishops have made careers out embracing every trendy fad and fancy over the past few decades, at the expense of promoting the Gospel message amongst the people of God, and the result is the destruction of the Church in Wales. However, looking at the Church in Wales Review it would seem that the so-called, self-styled, senior management of the Church in Wales take no responsibility for the mess they have managed. In any other walk of life a senior management team presented with such a damning review of their incompetence would resign in shame. If there was any honour, humility and sense of responsibility then all seven bishops in the Church in Wales would go. It stretches credulity to breaking point to know that the archbishop who has rung the death knell for the Church in Wales has some how been appointed to the commission to select the next Archbishop of Canterbury.

  3. 'Nowhere is it written that a parish may excommunicate its bishop... ...nor is it biblical. It is a toxic novelty.' (Clifford Longley, the Tablet 14 July 2012) And an assistant bishop who presides at Margam Abbey on Easter Day doesn't strike me as having his ministry restricted to sycophantic liberals with a feminist bent.

    And where is it written that bishops are called to be managers? It seems you have been infected by the very modernism that you claim to decry.

  4. My dear friends, this so called review is nothing new. The deposed Rector of Benllech offered the same in 1994, as did Harris. The points which Lord Harris suggests were given to the Provincial Finance Board for discussion. Their reply was that 'This would be the end of the Church in Wales as we know it'.

    The only difference in the Clifford Williams plan was that since Barry boy claimed that there should be less clerics in future , Williams pointed out that the Catholic Church in Wales managed with two bishops. It also pointed out that 39 Cathedral Road had cost more in salary for 94 than the whole diocese of Bangor. As this blog points out, Lord Harris does not touch the hierachy. They remain dressed in their fine linen. so it appears. The Harris review is hypocritical not radical.

    And theres more! The parish of Benllech called Barry's bluff in 1994. They offered to opt out financially, (like Irleand) from the Representative Body and fund their own ministry which would have been far less than the quota paid to the fat cats of Cathedral Road. The documents which prove all this are already in the public domain.

    The Church in Wales turned the plan down and set to work the wheels which would, (in their minds) silence the former Rector of Benllech. Some hope!

    If I were Barry I'd take a long walk.