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Saturday, 11 May 2013

Dean of Llandaff resigns - Part 2

Regardless of one's views on the ordination of women it is very sad that the new Dean of Llandaff's dream appointment turned sour in such a short space of time but that has not stopped commentators such as those on Thinking Anglicans making political capital out of the resignation, the reason for which is unknown. This sad situation was not helped by Church in Wales 'sources' making the claim: "Church in Wales sources have told WalesOnline that Dean Henderson had had “a “difficult time” since her appointment, with some clergy resenting the appointment of a woman." Women clergy are present at all levels in the Church in Wales other than bishop which failed to gain the approval of their Governing Body. See the Diocese of Llandaff here and here

The media have strung together bits and pieces from the initial story to put their own spin on it. The Sun highlights the row about chorister fees [since denied by the CinW - Ed] while The Times in its online preview states "No explanation was given, but Llandaff is known as an Anglo-Catholic heartland and Church sources indicated that as a woman she might have had a difficult time."  That Llandaff is known as an Anglo-Catholic heartland will come as a surprise to many including the Archbishop who has done more than most to change the Church in Wales into a club for like-minded liberals.

It is reported in the Church Times that a spokeswoman for the Church in Wales said that Dr Morgan would be making no further comment. Given his track record, if resentment at the appointment of a woman were the reason, on past performance he would have made considerable capital out of the situation so his silence suggests that he is somehow implicated. 

The May edition of the Llandaff Parish magazine, The Bell, lists 29 recommendations for action on the sustainability of the Cathedral 
and its development. Reading through the recommendations there is a suggestion of years of neglect with Dean Henderson being the fall guy. To the recommendations she added her own areas of importance: "excellence of worship, good all age Christian education, support and training for staff and the exploration of the riches that are present in our archives and on site. I also see a great deal of opportunity to develop our musical and artistic life and to be in partnership with schools, colleges and universities" which makes one wonder if anyone at a senior level has done anything other than pursue a political agenda in recent years.  

The recommendations listed in The Bell and in the Church in Wales Review (Recommendation VIII) emphasise the importance of Cathedrals as centres of excellence. The Archbishop has constantly pushed for Llandaff to be the Archiepiscopal See. To put this in perspective figures issued recently show that Llandaff Cathedral with Epstein's Majestas and £1.5 million organ attracts around 40,000 visitors a year. By contrast as a place of pilgrimage St David's Cathedral in Pembrokeshire attracts 262,000 visitors!

Janet Henderson's farewell sermon in St Mary's Richmond in January this year makes interesting reading in retrospect, particularly these quotes: "Or maybe God does speak to us directly, just occasionally. Perhaps when we are very far away from God or in great distress."..." There is nothing we can do to make God speak to us. We can only expect and hope that God might. We can hold ourselves open to hear and to act on what we hear." ... "You can always recognise a person who listens and talks with God. You can always tell a church where lots of the members are engaged in doing this." - Or not?


This interesting comment from a Llandaff parishioner has appeared on the Thinking Anglicans site:

"Former Dean Janet was welcomed by the parishioners at Llandaff - it's a parish church as well as a cathedral - and many were impressed by her personal warmth and commonsense approach.

Her resignation has stunned many, but the gender issues claimed in statements by "Church sources" are probably not the main cause of this. There are intransigent problems with Llandaff that have arisen since 2000, due to previous appointments. Keith Kimber's comments are singularly ill-informed, since the congregation - contrary to his picture of "rampant congregationalism" - actually have very little say in the running of the place.

Any institution that lives wildly beyond its means and invests in white elephants whilst ignoring the pastoral needs of its congregation - and its wider mission - deserves to fail. It is probable that Janet recognised this at a very early stage. Regrettably, we will now be denied her vision and energy. However she quickly realised the unfortunate truth of Llandaff's parlous position and we will now have to fend for ourselves.

Posted by: Landavian on Saturday, 11 May 2013 at 10:49pm BST"


  1. The Gospel for the day stresses our unity as the prayer purpose of Jesus in heaven. Can we pray in unity for Janet? with John 17.20-26 in mind? We all must do this.
    And on the day when the Bishops of Wales stress
    the unity of our individual calling and the need for its development and encouragement, with that dream of drawing in, at long last, of manifest talent upon talent, a sparkling river of the gifted, no longer hidden - sadly Janet is walking (or running?) in the other direction.
    Did God call her to come? Did God call her away?
    Has God really called those who invited her to come?
    We search the Scriptures. Speak Lord

  2. Why would the Archbishop need to comment? Twitter has already done that, Janet Henderson whose tragic story launched a thousand tweets, mostly taking the “Anglo Catholic heartland” as its cue for sexism, without checking with the sources (namely Henderson herself). in fact Ruth Gledhill ran that story in the Times without speaking to the Dean (or ex dean,) I know that because she tweeted me whether I knew her or even had her number, which I had not). Personally, I think she saw the truth and ran. agree with your analysis of the sad state of Llandaff cathedral which has no good leadership, it lacks the dynamism of the last Dean of St David’s who created a wonderful visitors centre, which makes a visit attractive and has done wonders for the local economy there. The leadership at Llandaff has done nothing, and businesses in the High Street do not do well. This is a sad story, but it time for the truth to come out, and for Barry Morgan to come clean

  3. I was assistant verger there years ago, and to be honest, I was not surprised at Dean Janet’s quick exit. I was amused by dopey old Keith Kimber’s attempt to blame the congregation for her fall, he was he also “handpicked” by Barry for St John’s because of “his experience” I think he was well past his sell by date, I think! Overall, I found the congregation to be warm and kind. However, there were some unpleasant types in the running that might have made life hard for her, but it would not have been because of her gender. They thought I was too friendly and talked too much to people, which I thought was part of the job to be like Jesus and welcome strangers. Now that could have been what Kimber was talking about, then he should have been precise. Anyhow there is a certain amount of clerical arrogance in Kimber’s comments he forgets that the congregation as to accept the nominee “axios” for it to work. In the meantime someone has to come clean, the church has to be transparent and honest , to prevent the type of gossip and speculation that has been going on, and Morgan needs to stop behaving like some old fashion Roman catholic bishop who can impose his will. Strange really for a bloke with a reputation of being a radical to act like that!

  4. I grew in in Llandaff, and I'll say this: anybody who goes to work in that diocese needs to realise there's quite a bit of Freemasonry. People should not be naïve about the Anglican Communion - it has lots of it. Anybody who is seen to be to welcoming in ministry will eventually be treated with suspicion by closet Freemasons and their cronies because letting new people into a church full of them quickly exposes their dark side, cliqueiness, etcetera.

  5. Can someone please indicate the extent of freemasonry - with names if possible - at Llandaff Cathedral please? Many thanks.