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Friday, 1 November 2013

Excess baggage?

New Vicar of St John's Cardiff     Photo: Church in Wales

From the Church in Wales web site comes the announcement that a high profile woman priest has been imported to become the new Vicar of  the formerly prestigious but now decaying parish of St John the Baptist in the centre of Cardiff where the Millennium Stadium is the main attraction. No doubt the Archbishop will be hoping that she has better staying power than the previous woman vicar of St John's who, according to local sources, decided that she had been sold a pup, as, it is rumored, was Dean Janet Henderson. So is there an implied promise of higher office to come?

Looking at the Vicar's impressive CV, the movers of the Jackson/Wigley amendment which removed from the Bishop's Bill the statutory provision for those unconvinced that the ordination of women is theologically sound have good reason to worry about their own chances of either of them being the first woman bishop in the Church of Wales despite having found favour with their leader after, reportedly, doing his bidding. 

But did Dr Morgan know that the new Vicar comes with excess baggage which offers a ray of hope to people who thought that consideration for the beliefs of others had ceased to be a part of Anglicanism? 

Taken from the conclusion of the Revd Canon Dr Sarah Rowland Jones' doctoral thesis “Doing God in Public”:

"To engage generously is also to communicate trust. Trust promotes
relationship, improving the context of our mutual encounters, which also enhances the
capacity for communication. Trust also invites others to come closer to our
community, increasing their exposure to our own practices. Trust is particularly vital
in those encounters where there is least potential for substantive encounter, since trust
is a fundamental element of Aquinas' primary precepts of natural law. More than this,
where others are able to meet us believing trust is present, the implication they can
draw is that we have their 'good' at heart – and thus trust helps open the door more
widely to exchanges about how we might come more fully to understand what
comprises such 'good'.

 Wherever possible we can and should at least attempt to establish where the
potential exists for substantive common ground that rests on foundations to which we
give allegiance, and then attempt to build upon it. Engaging with optimistic
generosity does not guarantee that we will always be met in kind, nor that all
difficulties in substantive communication will be overcome and others will readily
admit to the superiority of our views. However, to fail to engage is to be complicit in
the persistence and deterioration of the status quo, with all its injustices and failings.
To engage is always to insist on, and always to promote, the potential for greater
human flourishing according to humanity's ultimate telos found in the God by whom
and in whose image we are created. This is the Anglican way." (My emphasis - Ed)

After the Archbishop won the day at the Church in Wales' Governing Body Dr Morgan said: "I hope it will be possible that no-one will be lost. It's a matter now for discussion. I promise on behalf of the bench of bishops that we will talk to a range of people across the Church. We'll come back in April to hear what people have to say but in the end the bishops will have to draw up the code of practice."

We must hope that Dr Rowland Jones' conclusions will not be discarded as excess baggage but taken on board by the bishops of the Church in Wales and, indeed, of the Church of England as a timely reminder of the traditional, broad Church, 'Anglican way'. No-one need be lost if there is genuine love and understanding.


  1. Her doctoral thesis was titled “Doing God in Public" ? In the States, people "do" drugs, and dogs "do" their business, so I never liked expressions such as, "Let's do church" as our female former curate used to say.

    I hope the rest of her thesis was more succinct than the 257 words you presented.

  2. "Engaging with optimistic generosity does not guarantee that we will always be met in kind, nor that all
    difficulties in substantive communication will be overcome and others will readily admit to the superiority of our views" - meant with a certain sense of irony, one hopes......

  3. Excess Baggage?
    No longer at Llandaff Cathedral.
    Congratulations to the Chapter who have called a secret meeting with all the staff of the music department at St Michael's college for tomorrow evening to inform them of the Chapter's decision to hand out P45s.
    From now on the new organ will be unaccompanied.

    1. Not sure what this means Anonymous. Has the organist, or the choir, or maybe both, gone for a long walk?
      Heaven forbid! Not another gagging order by 'Dr Wonga'? Someone call 'Eversheds' please!

      Clifford Williams

    2. So it seems the redundancies begin?
      The toll of long term financial incontinence on the watches of Bonaparte, Captain Peacock, Bazza and Peggy the chartered accountant begins in earnest. Not, you understand, that a single one of them will be affected or held to account, the 'little' people will pay the price. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, Amen.
      You have to hand it to Bazza's puppet Peggy, the timing of the meeting is exquisite. Just as their £600 Avanti/BBC fee earner is broadcast on Songs of Praise, she might be handing out their redundancy notices. It is certainly one way of the Cathedral avoiding its duty to provide its employees with proper contracts.
      One suspects that not all members of the Chapter are even aware of tonight's meeting. One also wonders if the insidious hand of his ++Darkness will be revealed by the presence of his HR consultant daughter at the meeting?

    3. You read it here first.

      The decision will have been made already but now the sham "consultation" process starts so that lip service will be seen to be paid to the inconvenient legal formalities. The "duty to be financially responsible" has always existed and those responsible will not be held accountable.

    4. So after the P45's they will be handing out the leaflets on Messy Church. Choirs have been abandoned in some Parishes to the detriment of the worship and to the discouragement of parishioners. A beautifully sung Eucharist ( or Mass as I call it) is undoubtedly elevating and may draw one closer to God. Is there not some pruning that could be undertaken within the long list of persons employed in the governance of the Church, and then just move a bit of money around. There are clergy running around in non-jobs too,who never have to deal with genuine pastoral problems , but they can advise on this and that. It sounds as if the Chapter think there is something immoral in paying lay clerks to sing? Such people are trained professionals and have a skill for which they must be allowed to earn a living . If this is the argument ,then why is not the whole governance and administration run on a voluntary basis. There are certainly other ways of saving money without destroying Catherdral worship and dispassionately destroying singers livelihood. Share it out a bit Chuch in Wales!

  4. No surprise here. Choral services, especially Latin settings, are much too Catholic for Bazza, not a cradle Anglican, if ever an Anglican at all. It'll avoid the embarassment of the Choir and clergy outnumbering the congregation as at the Eve of All Souls Requiem - and the added bonus of distracting attention from the disastrous decline in the finances since he and his henchperson Peggy took oversight of Llandaff.
    After the seven figure sums he's cost the Church with the fiascos of the Benllech affair and bringing his chaplain from New Zealand and paying to send him back within months, the cost of the ongoing Choir tribunal and the prospect of Dean Janet seeking compo, if he can speed up even more the rate people abandon the Church in despair, Bazza must feel he can achieve the destruction of the Church in Wales in his time, even if he doesn't manage to fix the appointment of a woman bishop.

    He's the baggage that needs to be jettisoned before the ship sinks.

  5. Very sad really to spend £1.5 million on the organ, only to end up destroying the choral tradition of the Cathedral. It is like The Choir by Joanna Trollope.

  6. Cathedrals are one of the few areas of growth in traditional 'expressions' of Church, largely due to the quality of music and worship. This action plan effectively destroys the daily pattern of choral worship and thereby removes much of what is distinctive about the cathedral. It will be technically a cathedral but effectively like any other parish church. It is possible to argue that £1.5 million was too much to spend on a new organ, and that they could have rehoused a redundant organ for a fraction of the cost. But the organ is now there and paid for, and if they could raise that amount for the organ, they can surely go further and raise enough to endow the lay clerks/choral scholars. Of course, this may be an attempt to panic people into doing just that.

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