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Saturday, 4 February 2017

Church in Crisis

(The relevant section of this report is reproduced below)
 Interviewed for the Church Times about changes during his years of ministry, the retiring Archbishop of Wales Dr Barry Morgan said that the 'Welsh Church' is now a ‘more welcoming place’. Perhaps he was referring to the Uniting Church in Wales which he has been cultivating.

"In 2004, after the first year of his archiepiscopate, 41,000 adults attended an Anglican church service on an average Sunday in Wales. The most recent statistics, for 2015, show that figure has dropped to 29,000, a fall of nearly 30 per cent in 11 years."

Dr Morgan's welcome has not been extended to all. He has shunned many in his own church for not embracing his liberal views while welcoming feminists and other campaigners such as LGBT activists who have used the Church as a means of extending their influence.

Mirroring Women and the Church (WATCH) is a Welsh sister organisation, MAE Cymru "to promote gender equality in the Church in Wales". The report (left) of their first AGM on 5 November 2016 appears in the Forward in Faith journal New Directions.

With glasses of Prosecco raised they celebrated the election of a woman to be the 129th bishop of St Davids. Clearly they were in no mood to echo Dr Morgan's claim that the appointment had nothing to do with Canon Penberthy being a woman.

Mrs Briton had picked up New Directions first. I heard an anguished exclamation. "Good God, have you seen this?" She read aloud the last section which referred to a liturgical dance led by Archdeacon Peggy Jackson. Peggy 'the pilot' Jackson is Archdeacon of Llandaff. With little or no prospects of advancement in England, she was one of Dr Morgan's recruits to aid him in his obsession with the ordination of women. Unlike the first female Dean of Llandaff who lasted only a few weeks, Peggy the pilot has made it her business to pilot through legislation to ensure that there can be no equality in the Church in Wales other than on her terms. The following paragraph describes her 'act of worship, a style much favoured by her legislating companion:

"At the end of the afternoon, we held an act of worship - 'Saints and Sparklers'. We stood in a circle around an artificial bonfire of brightly coloured tissue paper, and with gingerbread-scented candles representing the saints we heard readings and prayers which referenced Sarah, Hagar, Rebecca, Rachel, Leah, Miriam, Jael, Deborah. Judith, Tamar, Mary Magdalene and Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Led by Archdeacon Peggy Jackson, we carefully executed a liturgical dance which made the shape of a crown - the crown of the Queen of Heaven. - Once the dance had moved outside, we lit sparklers and spoke aloud the names of the people who had inspired us on our journey. 'Shine as lights in the world, to the glory of God.' After the final blessing, we were free to make our way home, truly encouraged and inspired." - No men allowed.

This is Barry Morgan's 'welcoming' church, just another branch of non-conformity. The Sacraments of the Church becoming devoid of the inward and invisible grace bestowed by the outward and visible sign.

Supported by his bench sitters one of Dr Morgan's final acts was to write a Pastoral Letter 'to all the faithful' concerning admission to Holy Communion of all the baptised "by virtue of their Baptism alone". The pastoral letter may be read here. Some will have been convinced but many have not.

Writing in New Directions the former Archdeacon of Margam, the Venerable Martin Williams, has much to say about the issue. Some of the highlighted text: The Civil Law was all that mattered; Canon Law is swept away; These are existential concerns about our identity; Not once in the documents is "Eucharist" used; and, It is hard to imagine what the bishops have in mind. The Archdeacon concludes, "The Church in Wales is in a very deep crisis indeed."

Here is a response to the Pastoral Letter by a former legal adviser to the Governing Body of the Church in Wales, in a letter to the Church Times.

From the Rev'd Professor Thomas Glyn Watkin:
Sir, - The Church in Wales Book of Common Prayer, enacted by various canons, declares that confirmation is a rite, and its rubrics provide that confirmation is generally necessary to receive holy communion. The Church's constitution provides that alterations to rites and discipline may be made only by canon.

The Welsh Bishops wish to allow those who have been baptised to receive the sacrament without need of confirmation. They are attempting to do this by pastoral letter, without any authorisation by canon. The Archbishop has written in this paper (Letters, 25 November) that the change makes confirmation "a service of response and commitment to God's grace given at baptism and at the eucharist for those who want to make such a commitment".

Baptism, as both he and the Bishop of Swansea & Brecon (Letters, 6 January) state, is to be the full rite of Christian initiation. Confirmation is to become an optional extra. Is not this an alteration to the rite and to the existing discipline?

When the Church of England relaxed its rules on admission to holy communion, it did so by Measure and canon. The Welsh Bishops state that they have legal advice assuring them that the "step does not require any change in the present Canon Law or Constitution of the Church in Wales". A polite request to make public that legal advice met with an equally polite refusal. That the alteration is controversial is clear from recent correspondence in these columns (Letters, 14 October and 23/30 December).

The procedure for enacting canons exists precisely to ensure that potentially controversial changes are subjected to scrutiny, deliberation, and debate by all orders within the Church. Regardless of one's views regarding Christian initiation, respect is due to the inclusiveness of such decision-making.

The Bishop of Swansea & Brecon wrote of baptism as "birth into a family wherein all are welcome to be nourished by the sacramental family meal at the family table". The Bishops' actions make it plain that, once at the table, unless they are in episcopal orders, God's children are to be seen but not heard.

Seen but not heard is the preferred status of 'traditionalist' Anglicans. The news that the Rt Rev Philip North, "from the traditionalist Anglo-Catholic wing of the C of E, is being 'promoted' from his position as bishop of Burnley" has been met with shrieks of disapproval from WATCH.

Similarly the aim of MAE Cymru, part of a 'welcoming' organisation which purports to seek 'equality', has been to outlaw the very people who have sustained the Church over the centuries.

Accused of being “swayed by the liberal culture of our age” and ignoring Holy Scripture, Barry and his bench sitters have led the charge for change. Campaigns for so-called equality have bent what Jesus said and did to suit the prevailing secular mood. This has had devastating effects on the Anglican Church in Wales, in England and the United States.

Early in his archiepiscopate Dr Morgan delivered a lecture in memory of Canon Norman Autton. Dr Morgan claimed then that "In the New Testament the teaching of Jesus as a whole is about caring for the outcast as a test of righteousness and in his own ministry he dealt with those on the margins." He has repeated similar sentiments up until his retirement to justify advancing secular causes. In a word, all hell has broken loose.

In Westcott House Theological College recently, student priests organising Evensong talked about Jesus welcoming the outcast to justify an attempt to 'queer evening prayer': “Today we might follow in the footsteps of his daring, boldly and outrageously welcoming the Queer (both human and divine) in a way never before attempted.” A prayer referred to the “Fantabulosa fairy” and ended: “Praise ye the Duchess. The Duchess’s name be praised.” Psalm 19 was reworded to refer to “O Duchess, my butchness”.

WATCH is on record as wanting to change the Lords prayer to "Our Mother who art in heaven". The new Church in Wales is unrecognisable from only a generation ago.

When the bishops' aim of same sex marriage in church is achieved, their task of secularising the Church in Wales will be complete.

As they dance their way into oblivion taking the church with them, MAE Cymru will have to seek another gullible, affirming host to destroy.


  1. I feel incredulity that senior clergy should spend so much of their time and energy on these causes when the decline in church attendance is so steep. Growth is not going to occur because of greater 'liberality' (see the article in the online Guardian 17/11/2016). In fact it will only make matters worse because people want to see authenticity (as they understand it with regard to Christianity) if nothing else.

    The order of the day should be mission, mission, mission. Oh, and sad to have to say it since it should go without saying, that mission must be the proclamation of "the faith once delivered to the saints" and nothing else.

  2. Where does one begin!
    Firstly dancing around a fake bonfire, sounds more like paganism to me that anything else. Celebrating women of the bible, and missing out the men including Jesus, also sounds worrying. Do these women perform liturgical dance in their parishes or is it just a private affair?
    I was telling a Roman Catholic yesterday about our new policy to give children communion and she could not believe we are just allowed to do it. In Roman Catholic circles, first communion is special and valuable, and follows 1 year of teaching. So we, yet again, are missing an opportunity to teach the faith.
    More worrying is the bishop-centric church that has been created in the past few years. If governing body says something the Bench don't like (gay blessing) they just do it anyhow. At least the C of E has issued an apology for Westcott House.
    I agree with Whamab......mission, mission, mission. Sadly unlike the C of E much of the CiW has dropped Mission areas for ministry areas.
    On a separate note, does anyone believe Ministry areas will work, as I haven't yet met anyone (other than senior staff) who think they will, and already many are failing......

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Surely you mean Misery Areas, Danny?
      Don't believe the hype. Look instead at the priests running themselves into the ground trying to service up to 10 (and more) churches. Look at the church congregations who were sold the Misery Area concept and promised they could keep their own independent finances who now learn that this isn't the case at all. The people on the front line of the Church in Wales are worn out and confused and have little energy left for mission. Is it any wonder numbers are in decline?

    3. That's an interesting point Danny, maybe the lack of ambition or belief things could be different is in the name. Why not 'mission areas' instead of 'ministry areas' which seems to suggest more of the same repackaged and designed to support less stipendiary clergy and support workers.

      Instead every 'mission area' should have a qualified, committed youth/schools worker and possibly a families worker (lay or ordained). We could get the Church Army involved much more too in Wales. The money must be found as we are but a generation away from oblivion.

      We need to wake up and smell the coffee - whatever we think about social justice issues and theological novelties it's time to move on and do what Jesus did - proclaiming the Kingdom of God with the doing of good works that demonstrate its reality.

      That should be the Bench's number one priority bar none.

  3. Lowering the bar for receiving Holy Communion will mean that the weekly communicant figures will suddenly rise. Could that be the Bench Sitters’ ploy for massaging the CinW membership stats to show apparent growth?
    Is anyone really surprised at the mock liturgical drivel played out at so-called theological colleges? Stories have been doing the rounds for years of ‘pebble, beanbag and earth mother worship’ at the former St Michael’s College in an exclusive women only upper room. Students from a former generation experimented with play acting that the altar was a bar in a public house. At a college in the north of England ordinands would practice Benediction using a Mr Kipling’s Bakewell tart.

  4. I have witnessed similar paganesque rituals in the Episcopal organization here in the U.S. They attract the loonies and scare away the sane in the ranks of both the clergy and the laity. To the devotees, "mission" is to "enhance spirituality" and to express "joy in God's creation". It didn't work in the U.S., and it won't work in Wales.

  5. What would Jesus say?4 February 2017 at 16:23

    If it looks like a coven, sounds like a coven, moves like a coven and stinks like a coven then it's a coven. It sounds to me as though exorcism would be the appropriate response to such behaviour.

  6. What would Jesus say?4 February 2017 at 16:48

    "Church 'regret' as trainees hold service in gay slang"

    "Services in the Church of England are legally required to be conducted using the church's approved liturgy. The principal of Westcott House, the Rev Canon Chris Chivers, said the liturgy of the service had not been authorised for use."

    If approved liturgy is legally required then the organiser(s) of this sacrilege must face the full force of the law with immediate effect.

  7. Students will always try to push boundaries and whilst I would never countenance such disrespect I have to confess to being a little bit entertained by their sheer audacity here. Strikes me that the College must take much of the blame for this as these young people were allowed to proceed without the liturgy having prior approval. In fact, the student are obviously allowed to proceed on this basis for much of the time or they'd never have attempted this nonsense.
    Lucky for all concerned that they've been rumbled. The important thing is that lessons are learned.
    They need to be penitent, forgiven and allowed to proceed with their studies. Who knows, some of them might go on to be excellent priests and we could certainly do with a few of those!

  8. How revealing that act of worship is. Now we know what really matters to the MAE.

    “First we stood around an artificial bonfire of brightly coloured tissue paper.” Perhaps some of the paper left over from covering those empty boxes. “with gingerbread candles representing the saints.” What, all of them, or just the ones for whom gingerbread has a special significance, and only female saints, I’m sure.

    “We heard readings and prayers which referenced Sarah, Hagar, Rachel, Rebecca, Leah, Miriam, Jael, Deborah, Judith, Tamar, Mary Magdalene and Mary, the Mother of Jesus.”

    What on earth are we to make of those particular names? For a start, what insensitivity to include the Mother of God in a list that includes a couple of murderers. Apart from Miriam, who had good reason to dance, and Deborah, the rest were all capable of cheating, lying and some definitely dodgy dealing when it came to sex.

    If I were a man wearing a dog collar I’d watch out for any woman carrying a tent peg.

  9. Just a quick clarification from someone who is an ordinand at Westcott House. I think you would be surprised by the orthodox catholicity of the liturgy in the college chapel if you came here. The so-called 'Queer Evensong' was a one-off optional extra held one evening AFTER Evening Prayer (the authorised liturgy from Commonallgarden Worship). Only the small number who wished to attend the 'Queer' service did so. It might be worth saying, too, that the use of authorised worship in the chapel at Westcott is consistent - not like it was at St Michael's College, where you never knew what rite would be used on what day. Uugh. There are too many of us here of Catholic conviction (unlike in Barry the Golfer's day) who will not stand for heterodoxy.

      noun UK ​ /ˈher.ə.si/ US ​ /ˈher.ə.si/
      ​[ C or U ] (the act of having) an opinion or belief that is the opposite of or against what is the official or popular opinion, or an action that shows that you have no respect for the official opinion:
      Radical remarks like this amount to heresy for most members of the Republican party.
      She committed the heresy of playing a Lady Gaga song on a classical music station.
      ​[ U ] a belief that is against the principles of a particular religion:
      He was burned at the stake for heresy in the 15th century.

      That you refer to the reported goings on as the Queer "service" is most disturbing. It was nothing of the sort. It was sacrilege and heresy.
      It beggars belief for anyone to seek to defend it or be "a little bit entertained" by it, this is just pandering to the lunatic fringe. The many "of Catholic conviction" obviously lacked the courage of their convictions in failing to turf them out of the house of God.
      Little wonder then the Church in Wales and Church of England are in terminal decline.

    2. One of the "Queers in the Walls" at Llandaff Cathedral tells me that a Camp Evensong is planned for 22nd February, the feast day of St Kenneth Williams of blessed memory. The music list has been "leaked":

      Introit: Stainer "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation"

      Preces: Hancock

      Canticles: Blow in Dorian mode

      Readings: The Polari Bible

      Matthew 5:
      "For I cackle unto you, That except your bonaness shall exceed the bonaness of the betty bracelets and lily laws, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven."

      Psalm chant: Crotch

      Anthem: "Green Grow My Nadgers Oh" - Syd Rumpo

      Voluntary: Variations on "Dancing Queen" - ABBA

  10. You might like to reflect on the points made in this lecture the year before last by the recently retired Bishop of London. Just supposing he had been Abp of Wales and BM Bp of London?

  11. I meant to include this:

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. There have been so many alarming posts with regard to aberrant behaviour in the C in W ,but it is noted that there is never any comment from the Bench or any disciplinary action taken,thus it must be that the Bishops approve ?

    Peggy the pilot has been promoting dance around the diocese for years ,but this last report from MAE, of behaviour akin to a witches coven, takes the biscuit.

    The meeting must have warmed the cockles of the Devil's heart.

    The behaviour in the MAE meeting is akin to nursery school playtime or even occupational activities in a dementia group.
    The mode of behaviour of the MAE group is nothing less than a sanitised version
    of the disgraceful Women's March two weeks ago. (And I write as a contented XX chromosome).

    1. It would be interesting to know what the bishop-elect of St Davids ("the best person to be a bishop" according to Barry Morgan) thought of the "act of worship". Since she is prominent in all three MAE Cymru photos presumably she approved.

  14. Act of worship of the new Bishop of St Davids following on from her involvement with MAE Cymru Ash Wednesday falls on the first of March which is also St Davids Day and so Ash Wednesday is now being moved to the 28 Feb and now Ash Tuesday you can hardly believe it, all we need now is another lady bishop for LLandaff and so the bandwagon rolls on to oblivion in the CiW

    1. Don’t they know how to celebrate the solemnity of Dewi Sant, in his own cathedral, when it clashes with Ash Wednesday? It’s not the first time that 1st March has fallen on Ash Wednesday. Methinks that the modern cleric spends too much time doing funny dances around fake bonfires rather than studying the basics of the liturgy. Let’s help out the poor darlings. Monday 27th Feb first Evensong of St David. Tuesday 28th February Mattins, Solemn Eucharist and second Evensong of St David, leaving Ash Wednesday on the Wednesday. Not difficult, is it?

  15. I think this is unfair. Decision would have been made by Cathedral staff together with the Council and schools and other organisations. I don't think this is a decision that was made by the Bishop. I am an opponent of women bishops by the way. This is a very important occasion for the City of St David's.