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Monday, 25 September 2017

A sad commentary

Source:Source: Daily Post 

This is one of twelve redundant churches for sale referred  to in a May entry Your new home? The former Christ Church is located in the centre of the village of Rhosybol between Llanerchymedd and Amlwch on the Isle of Anglesey. It is still on the market.

The BBC is reporting that 110 Anglican churches have closed in Wales in 10 years or, as Premiere succinctly put it: "Eight per cent shut their doors for good during the decade covered, the Church in Wales statistics show. The decline leaves 1,319 Anglican churches in Wales still open."

Using the latest regular attendance figures that gives an average congregation of just 21 souls.

A Church in Wales spokesman said "there was a move to take a regional look at churches rather than let each one deal with the issue on its own. We're grouping a lot more parishes and congregations together, about 10-15 churches in an area, and thinking which ones can we sustain.

"There's a little bit more strategy - what's a sustainable congregation and where's the best place to do it?" The National Churches Trust said the rate of closures in Wales was relatively higher than England, given relative population size, where about 20 close each year.

Meanwhile in one of the buildings remaining open, at least for the time being, in the Church of England, the Rev Richard Coles, "radio presenter and Strictly Come Dancing 2017 star", has been seen entertaining his congregation with some mincing steps in a preview of his performance on Saturday evening.

The verdict? From the Telegraph: Ruth Langsford and Reverend Richard Coles were also down there at the bottom of the scoreboard but they possess both the entertainment value and fan base to keep them in the contest. We shall see next Sunday. 

After the launch of this year's series which includes a lesbian comedian as well as a gay vicar, there was a debate over whether gay contestants should be coupled with a dancing partner of the same sex prompting a previous gay contestant, Judge Rinder, to protest that the same-sex partner idea was 'absurd'.

If only the Archbishop of Canterbury could have been as forthright when he was asked in a LBC radio interview what his reaction was to a six year old boy being sent into a Church of England school dressed as and identifying as ‘a girl’. The Archbishop's reply was a boy wearing a dress to school was 'not a problem' indicating how far Anglican bishops have strayed like lost sheep.  A more profound response to the theology of cross-dressing amongst 6 year olds can be read here.

Back in Wales they have at least one claim to fame. According to 2011 census figures, Wales had the highest number of people in the UK with no religion. As attendance continues to fall more closures can be expected. Something for the bishops along with the Representative Body to ponder over in their spanking new Provincial office in the heart of Cardiff as the remaining 28,291 worshippers are encouraged to give far more than the average £9.41 per Sunday attender according to the latest (2016) membership and finance figures.

The Church in Wales recommends that its members should "give 5% of their take-home pay to the Church". For a single pensioner with no other source of income that amounts to £7.98 out of a weekly State Pension is £159.55 per week.

The current model is unsustainable with increasingly elderly congregations, that is, where the church still functions. Apart from toddler groups, messy church and the like, the traditional family where children sang in the choir, became servers, joined youth clubs, Scouts, Guides has become as scarce as the traditional parish church.

Traditionally the parish church has been at the heart of local communities. From the Church in Wales' Introduction to The Cure of Souls (1996)

"The Church is at one and the same time a spiritual, moral and institutional community. Any attempt to isolate one aspect from the others misrepresents its reality.

What distinguishes the Church from other communities, at least in its own self-understanding, is that it is a ‘spiritual’ community – a fellowship/community of the Holy Spirit. That is, it claims to participate in the Spirit of God and to be established as the community it essentially is by the Spirit of God."

That should be the 'strategy' but Anglican bishops have decided to follow the failed TEC model, plodding along while becoming irrelevant to society as the edifice crumbles. What a sad commentary.


    'The move became necessary as the converted residential properties the Church had occupied on Cardiff’s Cathedral Road, were no longer fit for purpose, either as offices for its staff or as a meeting venue to which people travel from all over Wales.
    After exploring many options, the Trustees decided that the most expedient solution would be to move to rented premises in Cardiff’s Callaghan Square.
    The Provincial Secretary, Simon Lloyd, said, “A location in the centre of Cardiff close to transport hubs will encourage greater use of public transport by both staff and those coming to the office for meetings. Our new office will provide good, accessible meeting space and a modern working environment for staff. We look forward to moving and having a visible presence at the heart of our vibrant capital city.”'

    Welcome to St Michael’s Conference Centre
    St Michael's is a training centre for the Church in Wales and also a busy conference venue.
    We offer a unique mix of up-to-date facilities, traditional buildings and beautiful grounds, and we host all kinds of events including meetings, conferences and workshops.
    We pride ourselves on providing the right mix of meeting room facilities, en-suite accommodation and catering to ensure a successful event, all supported by our helpful and friendly staff team.
    With 6 varied rooms and 32 en-suite bedrooms we provide a good value alternative to hotel conference facilities. We are on direct transport routes from Cardiff city centre, near the M4 and free on site parking.
    Vital Statistics
    6 meeting rooms with capacities of up to 60 people
    32 en-suite bedrooms (2 fully accessible)
    Combination of character buildings and modern facilities
    Peaceful and tranquil setting yet in easy reach of Cardiff city centre, Cardiff Bay, Llandaff Cathedral and surrounding areas
    On site Grade 2 listed Chapel designed by George Pace
    Free car parking and easy access to M4
    Great food provided by our in- house catering team

    St. Michael's is under utilised, had a £1.7 million refit only a few years ago and is right on their doorstep but Simon Lloyd and the Trustees still decide that the "most expedient" thing to so is to move to the MOST EXPENSIVE office block in Cardiff?

    Such a move would be an outrageous and profligate use of limited Church in Wales resources even during '7 fat years' but in the current times of '7 lean years' austerity it is nauseating.
    As usual, there's no shortage of money to squander on "flag-ship" projects but the fabric of Llandaff Cathedral is still deteriorating and the Quinquennial report remains hidden so as to conceal the truth from those expected to dip ever deeper into their own pockets.
    The swamp isn't being drained but relocated.

    1. Lest we forget the RB are also subsidising the loss-making St. Michelle's conference centre to the tune of £100k per annum.

    2. That's a mere trifle to the RB trustees Simon.
      After all, when one decides that one can afford to pay £21.75 per square foot of office space then a piffling £100,000 isn't worth troubling ones vacant little head over.

    3. That's just for starters Episkopos.
      According to Knight Frank there are Service Charges of £6.44 per square foot and business rates of £8.00 per square foot.
      That's £36.24 per square foot.
      Terrific value for money for the few remaining gullible pew-sitters don't you think?

    4. So how many square feet are needed to house all the little gophers and nobodies from 39 Cathedral Road?
      Plus the meeting rooms and conference facilities that will stand idle most of the time?
      What are we looking at here?
      A cool £.5million per annum?

    5. Simon Lloyd's first priority seems to be "greater use of public transport by both staff and those coming to the office for meetings".

      The smart money on The Green says he (and perhaps one or two other 'senior' gophers) will have his own allocated parking space as part of the relocation package so he won't be inconvenienced by the joys of commuting with Arriva and Cardiff Bus.

    6. Llandaff Pewster3 October 2017 at 09:05

      Despite considerable effort made in a futile attempt to prevent such information reaching Ancient Briton's much esteemed publication, word has reached my pew that the former St. Michael's Theological College is also now a former Conference Centre.
      All signs on Cardiff Road advertising the conference facilities have been removed and despite the propaganda still spouted on the website 1662, the expensively refurbished facilities including the lift are now only available for use by internal candidates of the St. Padarn's instrument of bullshit and social sciences.
      The redundancy procedure is already in hand. The housekeeper has already been disposed of and she along with her 20+ years of service has been disposed of.
      More P45s are expected by Christmas and staff morale is reported to be somewhere between rock bottom and non-existant.

      As Llandaff Cathedral slowly crumbles and is steered towards the rocks of financial ruin by the incompetent twerp in the Deanery (ably assisted by the PCC and Chapter that can't run a bath between them) Mr Lloyd and his gophers of the RB have never had it so good.

    7. Well fancy that, who would have guessed it?
      The buffoons that can't run a Church, pop up Cafe, stewardship campaign, Cathedral choir, Diocese, Cathedral or a bath can't run a Theological college, conference centre or Province either.

  2. This is just another sign of the decline that is gaining speedy momentum up here in Andy Crap's 'Mission Area' that used to be known as the Diocese of Bangor. The malaise began with Barry the Golfer, who closed churches at an alarming rate (though one of our gifted exiles, who has left for a parish in England, reopened one of them, much to the golfer's chargin).

    By abandoning the parish system with such mindless enthusiasm, you remove one of the foundations of the Church's public profile, and compound the impression that the Church is being organised for the benefit of the 'insiders' - and the institution more widely. It is nothing short of displacement activity, re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, as the C in W sinks into further national irrelevance. Meanwhile, overstretched, overworked, jaded and uninspired clergy are just about hanging-on in there until retirement, desperately riding the storm of the latest 'initiative' (i.e. panic measure). As one of the Canons of Bangor Cathedral told me recently, 'It's all Crap.'

    Talking of Bangor Cathedral, could someone tell me (as if I didn't know the answer already) when Evening Prayer is said on those days when there is no Choral Evensong? With a 4pm closure time (1pm on Fridays and Saturdays) and no advertised recital of the evening Office, one wonders how all those clergy are fulfilling their ordination vows...

  3. News comes in from the trouble torn diocese of Bangor. Bishop Andy, who recently kicked out his wife of Ty'r Esgob, is said to have revoked the licence to officiate from renowned theologian Rev Professor Dr Leslie Francis. Dr Francis is lecturer at Warwick University and Honorary Canon Theologian of Manchester Cathedral. His name was once romantically linked to the former Dean of Bangor Sue Jones.

    The Professor has been the regular celebrant for a number of years at the only 1662 congregation held at Llanedwen parish church situated on the shores of the Menai close to the estate of the Marquis of Anglesey. Members were yesterday devastated at the news announced by former meter reader, now mission area vicar, 78 year old Rev Eric Roberts. The oldest serving salaried priest well past his sell by date. More tea Bishop?


    2. The Enforcer cannot comment save only on that which is factual (www.Scandal and Whereas the Dark One encouraged the demise of one marriage, (www.Scandal and, let us pray that the present bishop of Bangor saves his.

      Despite this latest orgy of scandal and sleaze there is still an opportunity for repentance and forgiveness towards bishops who, repeatedly, treat the church with undiluted contempt.

  4. I mentioned in a previous post that I found super offices in Cardiff Bay advertised at half the price of Callahan Square.

    Can someone from the ivory tower please post an explanation why Callahan Square was chosen? This is the money from the faithful being used, literally thousands of widows' mites being sunk into this project, please tell us that all due diligence was performed? Please...

    1. Hubris......BBC Wales is also moving to that square (more hubris) the CiW has to copy......
      Nothing to do with the gospel.
      And so much for the "transport hub" when Cardiff doesn't have a bus station and not likely to have one soon....but hey, better to have BBC and CiW there than buses!

    2. Due diligence???????????????

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. Callaghan Square is not a prestigious site .... just an expensive one. It is a miserable and windblown area of the City populated by skateboarders and drunks. The offices are full of corporate law firms, Call Centres and the British Transport Police. It is a soulless and anti-social enviroment which should suite the CiW managers admirably. The BBC, by the way, are having spanking new offices buillt on what was Cardiff's transport hub on the north side of the station. Good luck to the CiW staff who (used to) drive to work and park at 39 Cathedral Road .... Arriva Trains Wales is now their only option. Or Shanks' Pony ....

    - It's Goodnight From Me

  7. I remember writing to Barrybish way back in the eighties, asking him to justify the substantial salaries paid to the 'experts' and 'advisers' at No 39 - plus the many glossy (and ghastly) Reports they published. His reply was that these extra-parochial jobs would reverse the decline in membership, revitalise ministry, etc etc zzzzz. I recall many a so-called 'Training Days' and Evenings for clergy and laity that were beyond description, mostly guided by pop psychology and the like ...

    1. What would Jesus say?25 September 2017 at 19:53

      Like the seven sacred spaces bullshit?
      Perhaps Callaghan Square is now one of them?

    2. Perhaps Mr Lloyd and his gophers could be persuaded to host a "sneak -a-peak" day for the gullible pew-sitters to visit, see on what their widows mites are being squandered and what the gophers actually spend their time doing.
      You know, just like that sham in Llandaff Cathedral a few years ago that was hailed as an outstanding success by the nobodies in the DBF for attracting 65 visitors from the entire Dioscese.

    3. Pointless training days still happening in Bangor Diocese - ref a recent day at a rural conference centre to train clergy and readers how to preach on Mark - run by a gay Roman Catholic poet!

    4. Bonjour Fr ap Iorwerth from the Nelson Mandela Apartments Peckham. Gordon Bennett!!Have you had your recent dementia test Grandad? Barrybish wasn't created until the 90s. You must have written to Cledanbish.

      Game Keeper


  8. Pondering Pastor. O dear this is such detrimental reading. Is the grim reaper at the door?

    I remember the good old days of the provincial mission team in Penarth, headed up by the late Canon Derek Jones CA. With a small group of Church Army Evangelists. That was mission. What we have now is not even fit for mission, let alone a model to be proud of

    As for the move of the blessed to the City Centre, time will tell. I just hope they have not signed a long lease. As St Michael's will become HQ soon enough. I think our new lady bishops will cease the day. With some hope and foresight.

    Let the Holy Spirit be the umpire and At Micheal and his angels dispel the darkness.

  9. As Et in Terra Pax noted on the previous thread (Time for a Change) there's a significant and ongoing shortfall in the RB accounts:

    "Their balance of outgoings to income in 2015 was £21.5 million vs. £19.1 million (go to and click on 'Financials')."

    So that's a £2.4 million deficit at the end of 2015 and let's see what the 2016 accounts show ('cos they're not online yet).

    Worth noting that the RB pays £710,000 towards Governance, which must include the salaries of what Cymru'r Groes aptly called "little gophers and nobodies."

    This business of shutting hundreds of churches is rather like a hapless balloonist throwing everything overboard as his balloon heads for some power lines. Ultimately, lightening the load is not the same as changing direction.

    The managers of the RB have no idea about how to stop the systemic decline of the Church because they're devoid of imagination and talent. Having overpaid themselves and drastically underperformed, they haven't the ability nor interest to recover the situation.

    Like Watchman, Et in Terra Pax and Pondering Pastor, I heartily endorse the idea of a "rent strike" by parishioners stopping their giving (especially GWADD which goes direct to the RB). The next stage would be parishes ceasing to pay their Parish Share.

    In a church of less than 29,000 I reckon that every vote counts, and every penny too!

  10. Dylan from Dolgellau26 September 2017 at 07:55

    What is happening in Rhosybol is only prefiguring what will happen to Bangor Cathedral soon, as the Diocese slips further into oblivion. Lunchtime closing on several days of the week. Senior clergy absent from saying of the Daily Offices. Further decline in regular congregations. A Dean who smiles a lot and then disappears home (which is no longer the Deanery, where she refuses to live, but a five-bedroomed house in the most prosperous part of Bangor, a good ten-minutes drive from the Cathedral). No evening prayer in the Cathedral, except those days when the choir is singing Evensong. No place to pray or light a candle on Saturdays afternoons, when people come in to Bangor to do their shopping. When most people are around, the Cathedral is bolted firm like a non-conformist chapel - and the Cathedral will go the same way. People are beginning to suss the laziness and lack of commitment from the part-time Dean and, I would wager, will respond in kind - not least when the collection plate is passed around. The Cathedral is there to serve the city and the Diocese - not the domestic timetable of the staff.

    1. Talking of Bangor Deans - I well remember a key Diocesan vote in a clergy synod at St Mary's Church Room - "We wont bother with a secret ballot", he said " I want you all to close your eyes, then the 'Yes' to put their hands up first, which I will count, and then the 'No's'" Aye!! Sadly, many decades on, many clerics and laity are still happy to close their eyes to what is happening to the church ...

  11. I am baffled by Enforcer's crie de Coeur on this thread. Leslie J Francis? Renowned Theologian? Shurely shome mishtake?

    1. I am not sure whether this is sarcasm on your part concerning the good Dr, Mr Riley, or whether you are enquiring further? If so, then several others were present when the announcement was made by the area vicar. Dr Francis was not allowed to be present to explain to the faithful why the bishop revoked his licence. The "thread" , as you mention, by the Enforcer, is correct and factual.

      Game Keeper's lodge.

    2. Game Keeper's Lodge asks a question and I am happy to provide an answer. Yes. It was sarcasm on my part. Professor Francis is an able sociologist of religion for sure (witness the countless questionnaires and surveys he undertakes, and his extensive bibliography employing the Myers Briggs Type indicator and other tools of social and psychological science). But theologian? I can reel-off quite a lot of other names (Rowan Williams, Sarah Coakley, Janet Soskice, David F Ford, John Milbank, Graham Ward, Simon Oliver, Ben Quash, Sam Wells, Michael Banner, Catherine Pickstock, Andrew Davison, Mike Higton) and many more besides before I get to the 'Professor of Religious Education' at Warwick University. Theology, as an academic discipline, is quite distinctive from the study of religious social trends with recourse to the human sciences.

    3. Ahhh... 'Sociology'!! Not 'Theology'. Ffanks Rodney me old son. I knew there was an 'ology' in it somewhere. Point I'm making, is, not many of these vicars hanging around here have any depth of ologies, which includes the lean looking bish. I mean, the old meter reader's sermons sound as if their are from a B&Q website. "He who dares wins" I suppose Boyce. Bonjour!!!

      Game Keeper

    4. Ology or no ology, I was talking to a retired 'senior' cleric in Bangor the other day, and (if his version of events is accurate) it's all down to safeguarding. Not that Dr Francis is himself the subject of any safeguarding concerns; but that on his flying visits from Warwickshire, he is allowing another priest who does not have permission to officiate in Bangor to take part in services. In these days of litigation and scapegoating, the lawyers advise that all those taking services have proper authorisation by the Bishop, and part of that authorisation process is a DBS check for the Diocese. The fact that the priest in question is thought to be the ex-Dean of Bangor is, allegedly, not a factor. But, if this explanation is wrong, Dr Francis is free to put the record straight on this blog; which, I am told, he is not unfamiliar with.

    5. So, you have been having discussions with a retired 'senior' cleric in Bangor (the other day). Highly honoured I am sure. Much more edifying than an 'ology' one suspects.

      Despite being surrounded by an orgy of scandal and sleaze, there is still opportunity for repentance by a bishop who deals with canonical disobedience by neat measures of undiluted contempt.

  12. Pondering Pastor, Amen Silent Majority. Interesting fact with such a factual analysis that anyone with an acumen for figures, will no doubt be able to see the demise. Unfortunately remedy of cutting cloth to suit the purse is sadly aimed at the rank and file, where in reality it should be born by the administration.

    Surely some of these roles could be done by full-time clergy, many denominations do this, a smaller parish and an admin role, 50/50.

    One Church has seen similar decline and acted wisely, we could learn big lessons from The Salvation Army (TSA). Smaller divisions (dioceses) smaller diocesan teams, and some interesting ideas on mission, listening firstly to local need, and no model of one brand fits all. Super state, mission areas are not the way forward. Neither is ordaining without serious scrutinized vocational rigour. Have a look at TSA Fit For Mission Strategy, has some strong transferable ideas. I know from my own contacts two CofE diocese are discussing the concept with TSA. So CofW be brave and wake up and smell the coffee, before the caffeine high, becomes the stuff of nightmares. Evangelism, where is the Evangelist spirit, Church Army, Missionary Monks and zealous Nuns where are they? We use to teem with teem with them. Pioneering priests, learned men of God rolling up sleeves at the coalface. I digress. More information about TSA strategy is found here:

    Stephen Mike's could have been a really great CofW HQ, with most facilities covering the Church in one place. Even hosting GB meetings and more. But an opportunity missed for nothing more than outward show.

    I perish the thought of the Church when closing buildings not even replacing them with better 21st century ones. Ok we do have some modicum of reality in pioneering parishes, but these are only fledgling. The key is twofold: cutting cloth, trimming the hierarchical nightmare and evangelism in all its wonderful forms. But, listening, listening to the paid up members who unfortunately, are paying through the nose, for the cumbersome nightmare and it's executive jollies!

    The tide needs to significantly change, be brave and chart a new course CofW!

    1. The Navigator, Charts, Compass and Sextant have all been thrown overboard and the new fangled G.P.S. is faulty.

  13. Pnawn da it surprises me that more is not being done to develop inter Church arrangements, in our small town very active Churches Together does most of the heavy lifting - Food Bank, Lunch Club, Lent Study, Choir, Theology Group, Open the Book in CiW primary school, refugee support, the four town Churches (CinW, Meth, Bap, RC) also struggle individually but together do well. Main problem is demographic, next logical step is a joint appointment. Unfortunately the super parish idea cuts across 'sensible local arrangements'. I am sure that local people would prefer a local minister if they had the choice. Buildings are the big problem - no easy answer about how to preserve and use all the beautiful buildings for which there is longer an active congregation.

    Off topic despite all the fulminations on this site against women clergy, our vicar is the first to proper here for many years, previous appointees hit the dust quickly. I do find the hostility to women on this site discouraging - and wonder how they could encourage anybody like me to rejoin - and that is without the evident homophobia. To get younger people in, hostility to women, clericalism and homophobia are big turn offs.

  14. I am impressed by your description of the work done by Churches Together in your area Adarynefoedd, less so with your charges of hostility to women and homophobia. The later is a frequent charge against traditionalists by progressives. Nobody has been able to provide any evidence to substantiate their charge but mud sticks so I should respond to your accusations.

    To disagree on theological grounds over the ordination of women is not hostility towards women, it is to oppose a secular view which is based on equality of opportunity in the workplace.

    I assume you have read Geoffrey Kirk's "Without Precedent: Scripture, Tradition, and the Ordination of Women". A book on which Archbishop Rowan commented: "I read it with appreciation for its clarity and comprehensiveness. It is undoubtedly a lucid and helpful survey, which quite rightly punctures some awful historical nonsense".

    Kirk ends his Introduction with a warning. He writes: "This book is not an attempt to argue against the ordination of women to the priesthood or the episcopate....The Orders of the church are not at the disposal of Popes, Councils, synods or debating chambers of any kind. They are a gift from the Lord.

    Those of us who hold that belief are charged with all manner phobias, etc. As Jesus said, you will be hated by everyone because of me. That is the price we pay for our faith.

    1. Bore da I was simply making the point that there is nothing in the traditional position on women that would make me want to re-join and I suspect that there are many like me, relatively moderate feminists and I do not see that reaffirming 'traditional' values will pull in many new church goers. On the other hand the excellent, quiet work of our local (female) vicar in a very difficult parish working so well with other Churches and groups in inspiring. There was a point when 3/4 of the local ministers were women! Filling the pews again is a very complex problem - all community and political groups know that is hard to get anybody out of their houses or away from their screens and involving families, children and young people is especially hard.

  15. The "Orders of the Church are a gift from the Lord".
    That may be so, but the fact is that someone has to discern that gift.
    Is it you AncientBriton, or the Synods of our various Provinces.
    Where I live we have a great Incumbent who has envigorated the parish
    She is clearly part of that gift.

  16. Sorry
    I'm not sure how to establish a pseudonym for my post as Anon
    Try Expat Cymro

  17. Pondering Pastor, thinking of new offices the CofW could have used a redundant parsonage or church. Stephen James The Great on Newport Road Cardiff springs to mind. I'm sure other suggestions could be found.In Mon Dio we seem to have a new enterprise of monasticism using redundant parsonages. So at least such enterprise is attracting youth and changing church. But for some Parishes of long established Anglo-Catholic litergy are suddenly subjected to low church ways. Nothing wrong here as God is worship, but surely brute force "accept or die". Parishes of all aspects need clergy who understands, having super parishes larger than rectorial beneficies is a nightmare, unfolding. Clergy recruitment drive is now more than ever essential, with sound theological seminary training and pastoral experience with absolutely serving a title before offer of a parish or, higher responsibility. Gender should not be the issue, there are many women who are Anglo Catholic and perform such rites. Therefore biting the bullet leaving gender bias behind to save and enliven the Church, as the epic inertia under the dark lord, needs radically to be uprooted now!