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Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Church in Wales Lowlights April 2015

"Places like Wales you can write off with Brazil as either in the pocket or in the mindset of Katharine Jefferts Schori in the hard left." - Anglican Unscripted 172 (@12.38)

The recent meeting of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales was dominated by the representation of women in the church: "Equality agenda responsibility of the whole Church" see pages 4 and 5 (of 8) in Highlights. It did not occur to them that self praise is no recommendation.

Never one to shrink from voicing her own opinions as if they were representative of the Holy Catholic Church, the Venerable Peggy Jackson "saw a disconnect between who we are and who we think we are. 'We must address our own issues. We want positive action, not positive discrimination.' She urged women to step up and take responsibility". Peggy and her chums may be big fish in a very small pond but in no way are they who they think they are.

But Barry did not have it all his own way. Another of his chums, the Lord Harris of Pentregarth, a former Bishop of Oxford and "a leading CofE liberal thinker" who thinks that the "Koran should be read at Prince Charles' coronation" (here), inserted an unpopular recommendation in the Church in Wales Review:

Recommendation XLII
1) Fees for occasional offices should be paid into church
accounts and go towards the cost of the Share in the Ministry
2) Clergy stipends should be recalibrated to ensure that they are
comparable to that of neighbouring Anglican churches.

As a former Dean of Llandaff was fond of saying, that went down like a cup of cold sick with Church in Wales clergy who rejected the idea. The motion was lost, with 48 votes against, 34 for, and 27 abstentions. Again there is nothing like self-interest for moving the soul. Much like the "Damascus Rangers" who in a flash saw which side their bread was buttered after the Church in Wales decided for themselves that there was no theological objection to the ordination of women.

From page 27 of the Review report, "The Church in Wales is unusual in allowing clergy to keep fees for funerals, weddings and other occasional offices. This system is open to abuse and we find it unacceptable". It is an oddity of the Church in Wales that other Provinces are held up as exemplars when it suits and then dropped or otherwise ignored. Recall how the Code of Practice in the Church of England was held up as an example of care and compassion in the debate on women bishops only to be dropped after the motion was successfully amended to accept the innovation before a code for Wales was agreed by those for whom it was intended!

Compare also the use of discretionary funds: "Care for those in need is an essential feature of Christian discipleship and an important part of the Church’s work. At the same time this work needs to be effectively managed. In the past people in need have turned to the clergy for help from Discretionary Funds. This role for the clergy is no longer appropriate. - But fine in the Church in Wales! Christ had a word for that. 

One of the oddest moments occurred in Question Time with the question:
 Will the Bench of Bishops, recognising that current Church policy is to instruct all clergy to use fermented communion wine at the Eucharist, consider in individual and exceptional circumstances, for pastoral reasons, permitting a cleric with the approval of the bishop, to offer a separate chalice of non alcoholic communion wine

Bishop Gregory responded:
"The question opens out unexpected theological intricacies. The Anglican Lambeth Quadrilateral said that "the two sacraments ordained by Christ himself—Baptism and the Supper of the Lord—are ministered with unfailing use of Christ’s words of institution and of the elements ordained by him." This means the use of wine—the fermented juice of the grape—is essential to proper celebration of the sacraments. The reception of bread alone should be pastorally sufficient when well explained to anyone who has difficult receiving alcoholic wine." 

At last, I thought, some theological sense but then Bishop Gregory added: "Dealcoholicised wine is available for use in the Eucharist; and a discrete second chalice could be used". So how long before the Liturgical Commission recommends a change to "took the cups"? Perhaps in due course, on its road to non-conformity, the Church in Wales will encourage the use of optics and individual communion glasses in the part of the church set aside for coffee so that everyone can do their own thing.

The main issue for the Archbishop, his campaign for same-sex marriage, remains hovering in the background. It is currently being discussed around the Province in preparation for it to be imposed regardless of the outcome of any discussions, just as the Code of Practice was imposed after disregarding the outcome of provincial meetings which agreed that adequate provision should be made for Church members who were opposed on theological grounds to the ordination of women. If the bishops of the Church in Wales kept the faith there would be nothing to discuss. "Places like Wales you can write off". Seems so.


  1. I suspect ++Barry is waiting for some clergy ('traditional', 'catholic', 'evangelical', and, well, Christian) to finish their 3 year term on NGB, and the gay marriage thing will be on the agenda for a more 'progressive' NGB in the Autumn

  2. Beleaguered of Bangor22 April 2015 at 09:32

    One question tabled by Peggy the Pilot which you didn't mention was her non-too-subtle enquiry about why clergy from the Church in Wales were leaving for the Church of England. This can only be a reference to the situation in Bangor where our brightest and most gifted priests have either given up on the dull and uninspiring Andy Pandy or been bullied out by Sour Sue the soon-to-be-ex-Dean. Eight (out of a total stipendiary cohort of 45) have gone to distinguished posts in the Church of England since 2010 after being described as inadequate by 'Fog' (the new nickname for Andy Pandy - i.e. thick and wet). Sour Sue would make it 9 BUT... I have heard a whisper that more than one approach has been made to +Alastair Derby and his safeguarding officer about the soon-to-be-ex-Dean's behavioural record. Chickens coming home to roost at last?

  3. It is a shame that priests are exiting to the Church of England,but I wonder if the reason is bigger that some individuals in Bangor : is it not the abandonment to the unprincipled and underhand Code of Practice in Wales,whereas in England there is something in place which has a chance of being genuine and might work?

  4. "The Church in Wales is unusual in allowing clergy to keep fees for funerals, weddings and other occasional offices. This system is open to abuse and we find it unacceptable"
    SHOULD read
    "The Church in Wales is unusual in allowing Bishops to stick their hands into the collection plate for 'discretionary' funds. This system is open to abuse and we find it unacceptable".

  5. I was recently at a funeral in an inner city parish in Cardiff. No sooner had the coffin been carried out of the church then the funeral director could be seen handing out cheques made out to the priest, the organist and the verger. I asked the funeral director why there was no receipt book for them to sign. He laughed and said that each parish has its own ‘little ways’ of accounting for fees ranging from complete transparency, where all fees are made out to the parish, to this particular parish where it is known to be what the undertakers call ‘a smoke and mirror’ account. How can there be such a wide variation in financial arrangements? How often have we heard sermons from bishops and priests in Wales criticising politicians for their expenses claims, and yet they are themselves engaging in practices which are equally murky, dishonest and illegal?

    1. I trained for many years as a music student in order to play the organ for church services. I am not employed by the parish, but I hold office as organist, in which capacity I am paid for my time and services, including when I play at funerals. Your post is utterly vile and ignorant of the most basic facts.

    2. A curious response, Voxpop, to a post that includes only a single eye witness account, and a couple of questions. Are suggesting the eye witness account is a fabrication? Are you aware of a standard procedure for the whole of Wales?

    3. I and many others have been accused by "1549" of "engaging in practices which are... murky, dishonest and illegal". Perhaps you think that is acceptable?

      It is not only lawful for office-holders to receive fees for their work - organists, clergy and vergers - but entirely appropriate and what is more biblical. The labourer is worthy of their hire.

      It has nothing to do with the parish, which is not our employer. We are self-employed.

    4. Sadly I am not an organist. I do play music in church, but not for funerals. I do it not for the money, because, alas, musically speaking, I am not self-employed but unemployed. No, I play my musical instrument in church to praise and worship God, and to help others do the same.

    5. 'From page 27 of the Review report, "The Church in Wales is unusual in allowing clergy to keep fees for funerals, weddings and other occasional offices. This system is open to abuse and we find it unacceptable".' A finding from the Review into the Church in Wales by Lord Harries of Pentregarth. What more is there to say?

    6. I am sorry that you are unemployed, but I am self-employed, and my profession is music. I am invited to play at church services so that people can enjoy high quality music as part of the worship. The church pays for electricity to light and heat its buildings, for clergy to lead the worship, for candles, and hymn books and communion supplies, and many other things necessary for its functioning. It is entirely unreasonable to demand that those who make their living as musicians in the precarious world of self-employment should do so for free, whether or not they are Christians, when performing at weddings or funerals, all of which can consume a great deal of time when we can be earning our living elsewhere.

  6. Llandaff Pelican24 April 2015 at 14:24

    Voxpop it correct insofar as it goes. An office-holder is entitled to fees (and an organist is a good example) unless they decline to accept them. However - and I am sure voxpop would agree wholeheartedly - that where it becomes 'murky, dishonest and illegal' is when those fees are not the subject of an independent audit or not declared on an annual tax return. I am sure Voxpop is a paragon of rectitude in this respect, has never accepted cash from a funeral director or parish where he plays. In this way, there is a very clear paper-trail and unquestionable transparency.

  7. Pelican, how very kind of you to acknowledge that office-holders are entitled to receive fees. The problem with your statement is the rather cynical assumption that people who do receive fees are engaging in behaviour which is "murky, dishonest and illegal". Most funeral directors in my experience pay in cash, as do many parishes. By your reckoning this is tantamount to something "murky, dishonest or illegal." Most shopkeepers are paid in cash for products sold over the counter. Most church services include a cash collection. But you single out office-holders as potentially dishonest people who fiddle the books. It is little wonder that fewer and fewer professional musicians are willing to attend church services, and indeed, that fewer and fewer people are coming forward to serve in the ordained ministry. If this is the level of trust which exists, and the kind of behaviour which prevails among Llandaff Pelicans, then expect to see the end of traditional church services and ministry, in a very short space of time.

    1. Roger Scruton.

      I have never known an undertaker pay in cash! Never ever and that is in over 20 years as a priest

  8. Can we draw a line under this misunderstanding please?

    In his/her initial comment 1549 asked, generally, "How can there be such a wide variation in financial arrangements? I am sorry if this caused offence to loyal servants of the Church by mistakenly taking the comment too specifically - I have also received comments 'not for publication' and some rather more pointed comments best left unpublished.

    The salient point in my post was to draw attention to Lord Harris's observation about the "unacceptable" handling of clergy expenses while bishops' discretionary funds are allowed to go unchallenged. The bishops must be laughing themselves silly with this distraction. The real issue(s) need to be addressed.

    1. Quite so AB.

      The ears in the walls report that Bazza's little yellow envelopes for his discretionary 'Mission' Fund have arrived at Llandaff in good time for the confirmation service this weekend.
      Hopefully everyone attending that service who might wish to give some money will ignore the collection and the envelopes altogether as Bazza will, as usual, help himself to the lot.
      By all means make an extra offering to your own church or a charity. At least you will be able to find out how it was spent!

    2. Why is it unacceptable for the clergy to receive fees for the services which they conduct? Other denominations do the same. Except of course for Lord Harries' beloved Church of England, where every penny is taken off the poor clergy, including Easter Offerings, so that the Bishops can be paid twice as much and swan around in company cars.

    3. There's the small matter of the order of magnitude too.
      Quite apart from the fact I agree with Voxpop (which I hereby admit), an Organist or a singer might get a fee of something like a paltry £50 for their professional services at a funeral or wedding.
      On top of his annual salary, Darth ++Insidious has access to another £36k per annum to spend at his 'discretion' without any audit trail, balances or checks but the Governing Body don't seem to be worried about this one little bit!

  9. Swann Hellenic have just published their latest brochure.
    Lo and behold, by booking early to go on Bazza's retirement junket you can get a 5% discount.

    Cat Deck Description Brochure
    Price Early
    Fare Saving
    A Bridge Deck Owner’s Suite with Balcony 7890 7496 5%
    B Sun Deck Deluxe Balcony Suite 7130 6774 5%
    C Bridge Deck Superior Balcony Suite 6950 6603 5%
    D Sun Deck Balcony Suite 6270 5957 5%
    F Aegean Deck Outside Forward Window 4250 4038 5%
    G Aegean Deck Outside Aft Window 3965 3767 5%
    K Aegean Deck Inside Forward 3025 2874 5%
    L Aegean Deck Inside Aft 2920 2774 5%
    M Baltic Deck Inside Forward 2775 2636 5%
    N Baltic Deck Inside Aft 2595 2465 5%
    H Baltic Deck Outside Forward Port Holes 3605 3425 5%
    I Baltic Deck Outside Aft Port Holes 3425 3254 5%
    P Singles - Inside Sun Deck 2525 2399 5%

  10. Speaking of latest brochures, the May edition of The Bell is available and Bielby is busy singing his own praises once again.
    What he grandly describes as a "Cathedral Choir" is in reality a few casual labourers who are not as good as the Merbecke Choir. They can at least manage Darke in F!

    Nevertheless, it will be most informative to see if Bazza's gold caddy and the Chapter have learned the lesson over the 2013 Songs of Praise fiasco with Anumpti Productions and whether the reported ACHIEVEMENT
    "d) to encourage a spirit of aspiration and enthusiasm in the Cathedral Choir by restoring confidence"
    will ensure the nationally agreed rates of pay for recording sessions are paid by the BBC.

    The latest rate card is available from EQUITY - 02920 397971

    1. I wonder if Bielby will try to pull the same stunt as Moorhouse, deceiving his choristers by writing them that the BBC "rarely pay well"?

    2. It seems that Bielby has dropped the glove puppet & Chapter well and truly onto the horns of his dilemma.
      Do they continue the charade that they have reconstituted a "Cathedral Choir" of paid professional singers who will be automatically entitled to the appropriate recording session fees from the BBC?
      Or will it turn out that the new "back row" are gifted amateurs after all who will be expected to do a recording session for peanuts?

      The smart money on The Green is on the peanuts!

      Alternatively, perhaps the glove puppet will use the Janet Henderson 'Songs of Praise' approach and claim that he hasn't yet chosen which singers will be on the recording, so it might be the amateur members of the Parish choir (or even the Merbecke singers) who will be expected to 'sing for God for nothing'?

    3. A feather in Llandaff's cap?
      Who do these people think they're fooling?
      Llandaff Cathedral is financially and musically a pauper thanks to the incompetence of Peggy the Pilot, Kirk, Masson, Smith et al so there's no "cap" into which the imaginary feather might be placed!

    4. Here's the reality in Llandaft Cathedral.
      March 2013, 2392 communicants averaging 478 per week.
      March 2014, 1921 communicants averaging 384 per week.
      March 2015, 1795 communicants averaging 359 per week.

      Perhaps bazza's glove puppet will be celebrating his first anniversary in Llandaft with a rum pansy?

    5. Llandaff Pewster28 April 2015 at 11:49

      Once Llandaft has finished with him, chewed him up and spat him out, is this the future facing Bielby?
      "We are Flick and Richard Moorhouse. Flick has a Montessori pre-school teaching background, and has spent over 8 years sharing Monkey Music with families in Cardiff before moving to Oxfordshire. Richard has worked as a professional musician for over 20 years and has held posts at Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral, helping many Cathedral choristers to sing like angels! We have also enjoyed cultivating our own children’s interest in music. Our experience shows, that music can offer babies and children so many crucial learning opportunities at this precious stage of life, giving both child and carer special moments together in a nurturing, exciting and fun environment. We look forward to welcoming you to classes."

    6. Monkey Business28 April 2015 at 12:24

      Astonishing. Moorhouse has airbrushed out his 14 years as Director of Music in Llandaff!
      What is he so ashamed of?

    7. The inference is that he wasn't able to get any Llandaff "choristers to sing like angels!"

    8. Mr Bielby thinks he's going to record an interview for BBC Radio 4s World at One to discuss "notable British achievements where we lead the world." with particular reference to "British Cathedral Choirs" and "Choral Evensong"?

      Of all the Cathedrals in Britain the BBC might have chosen, Llandaff would surely be at the very bottom of the list.
      Notable achievements?
      In Llandaff?
      An Employment tribunal over illegal and inequitable working conditions, ignored complaints, botched disciplinary procedures and missing/illegal policies.
      Losing the first female Dean after 8 weeks over a press statement falsely released in her name and that was full of lies.
      Attempting to deceive the Cathedral Choir over rates of pay due for recording Songs of Praise.
      The infamous "Llandaft" script.
      Making the Cathedral Choir redundant four days before Christmas with the claim that the then service fees of £13 could no longer be afforded.
      False press statements from Peggy the Pilot about the "future" of the Cathedral Choir and the 130 year-old Llandaff music "tradition".
      Leaving the few remaining boys to sing alone for 10 months.
      Losing the Organist & Master of the Choristers without explanation.
      Announcing the appointment of Sir Christopher Gower and his "Organ Scholar" to the Friends of Llandaff Cathedral only for neither of them to show up ten days later!
      Bringing in Mr Bielby to plug the gap as an "Interim".
      Bringing in scab singers on zero hours contracts for £50+ service fees.
      "Advertising" by the West door for 6 singers for £1,800 a term and failing to get them.
      Gradually dropping the service fees down to £25.
      Botching Darke in F (twice in the same service).
      Cancelling Jackson in G due to unavailability/lack of numbers.
      Having different singers at every sung service.
      Only three sung services a week (when and if possible) instead of six.
      All in less than 30 months.
      All since "Majestas" was recorded.
      THAT was a "Cathedral Choir" and THAT was a "notable achievement"!

      One suspects that Mr Bielby's interview on May 22nd will have more in common with Jackanory than the reality in Llandaff.

    9. The smart money on The Green is that the shameless self-promoter will include one of his own compositions as one of the 3 musical items to be recorded by the sham Llandaft "Cathedral Choir"

  11. Llandaff Pelican25 April 2015 at 14:58

    My 'cynical assumption', Voxpop, was actually targeted at Byzantine Barry and the rest of his episcopal mafia who do not present their discretionary funds for independent audit or, I suspect, scrutiny by HMRC. The last time I had to suffer his presence in my parish, the wardens 'forgot' to put his little yellow envelopes out (what a shame...) and he got nothing... because we would be in breach of the Charities Act if we sent money to somewhere not intended by the donors!

    1. By all means wage war on Bazza and his empurpled chums - but don't take it out on the poor bloody infantry - many of whom don't have accountants and audit trails, but have to live hand to mouth. Try telling an accountant that he will be paid £50 for turning out for two hours on a Saturday to attend a wedding, with no allowance for transport. A church organist generally undertakes considerably more training but receives considerably less in return.

  12. An old theme but a new year so worth asking once more.

    Which Parishes in the Llandaff Diocese gave their vicars an Easter 'offering' this year?
    All mention of an 'agreed' formula or calculation has disappeared from the Capon's
    annual Llandaft report but the ears in the walls report some members of his Chapter
    received big Easter payments!

    1. I am astounded that there are any clergy who think it is morally justified in this day and age to accept the Easter offering. Be they vicar, canon or even dean, it is not right to be taking money directly off people in the pews.

    2. @Fred
      I have no difficulty at all in priests receiving an "Easter offering" as long as
      a. It is done openly and the people doing the giving know that their money will be given directly to the priest concerned.
      b. The practice of giving/receiving an "Easter offering" is consistent across the diocese and indeed, across the entire province (it seems to me inherently unfair that some receive and some do not, but the amounts given/received will naturally vary greatly due to the wealth of the parish/rectorial benefice as well as the popularity/hard work of the priest in question - the idle, drippy, tree huggers, crystal healers and Bazza's arse kissers will reap their due rewards)
      c. That an "Easter Offering" is only provided to priests in parishes/rectorial benefices that are increasing their congregation AND running at a financial surplus.
      Being paid a 'bonus' for running a large deficit like Bonaparte used to do is plainly absurd.

      At Llandaff Cathedral where the communicant numbers are down again by another 7% (in the 12 months since the grossly under qualified and wholly inexperienced Capon was imposed) and there is a £30k black hole in the annual accounts, any 'bonus' for Bazza's glove puppet should be commensurate with his results.
      The rapidly diminishing communicant numbers are bad enough but there is a bigger symptom of terminal decline on page 25 of The Bell.
      "Made members of Christ in Holy Baptism
      Mar NONE"

    3. Fred, you omit Bishops from your list.
      The example of "taking money directly off people in the pews" comes right from the top of the pile at every ordination and confirmation service when Darth ++Insidious dips his hands into the collections to top up his unaudited "discretionary" slush fund.

      I agree with Teilo.
      Based on his results Bazza's golf caddy should be paying in money to Llandaff Cathedral!

    4. Here we go again1 May 2015 at 18:13

      I have just noticed on page 3 under the heading "Parochial Fees" that Peggy the pilot is quoted as saying "she was shocked to hear that clergy are struggling financially. “If that is true,
      then stipends should be reviewed.”"

      Above what planet does she fly her magic carpet?
      Is this Peggy's conveniently selective memory working overtime again?
      Even theologically challenged "Lawabiding" at the Llandaff DBF knows that some "clergy are struggling financially" (as s/he made abundantly clear in the sanctimonious twaddle they posted on Ancient Briton's "Discretionary Funds" thread some time ago in the futile attempt to defend the £36k Bazza skims off the collection plate every year)

  13. This is really a wonderful post.