|A tranquil looking St Thomas a Becket Church in Haverfordwest, one of 12 redundant buildings being sold BBC/DYLAN MOORE/GEOGRAPH|
In September BBC News reported that data from the Church in Wales showed 115 Anglican churches have closed over a 10-year period, about 8% of the total, with 1,319 still in use.
One of twelve redundant churches currently being offered for sale is the former St Thomas à Becket’s Church, illustrated. It is a Grade II listed building in Haverfordwest in the diocese of St Davids. There are three others in the diocese, the former St Cain’s Church located in the village of Llangain, Carmarthenshire, the former St Mary’s Church, Ambleston 9 miles north-east of Haverfordwest and the former St Mary’s Church, Bryngwyn near Aberporth.
By contrast there has been no action on diocesan structure (Section 15. Dioceses: their number and administration) which supports six diocesan bishops, six deans, numerous Archdeacons and an ever expanding number of LMA facilitators, coordinators, etc, not to mention their expensive administrative supporting structures.
From another report a quarter of Anglican churches childless: "Twenty-five per cent of Church of England services do not have a single youngster among their congregations". I would imagine that the position in Wales is no better and probably worse given that Wales has the highest number of people with no religion in the UK.
Mathematics to solve Monmouth Local Ministry Areas problem.
The bishop of Monmouth has proclaimed that "A third archdeaconry is to be created in Monmouth Diocese following overwhelming support for the move at this year’s Diocesan Conference (21 October)". He said, "As Bishop I am charged with the leadership of this Diocese. Faced with such a challenge I could ignore it and almost certainly let the Anglican presence in the Valleys fade away. Or I could do – what any organisation would do – let alone the church – invest in the area and try and turn it around."
Currently, the Archdeacon of Monmouth is working with 8 Ministry Area Leaders, while the Archdeaconry of Newport, which includes the Valleys, has twice that number at 16, a total of 24.
The solution? Divide 16 by 2 and hey presto, 3 x 8 = 24.
Also, 16 - 4 = 12, 8 + 4 = 12. 12 + 12 = 24 the number started with at no extra cost.
Ah! But “We need mission and evangelism otherwise this Diocese will find it difficult to survive,” bishop Richard warned. Back to 2005.
Monmouth has been here before. In 'Hope for Monmouth, the diocesan strategy document' which was launched at the Diocesan Conference in October 2005 the previous bishop wrote at length in his Preface, including this under 'Mission':
"Mission includes evangelism but it also includes pastoral care, social concern, teaching the faith, peace and justice issues and worship. What is important is that we connect with all of them! A church that has fine worship but no social concern will become like a cult; a church that is good on pastoral care and social action but is weak on the study of the scriptures and worship will be a church without a gospel. Our worship must connect with our own discipleship, with evangelism and with the suffering world."
From my entry Church in Wales attendance down 5% 2014-2015
Attempts to bolster numbers by adding 'Non-traditional Acts of Worship' such as Animal blessings, Café churches, Teenscreen clubs and Interfaith engagement have served only to emphasis the decline: "Overall, it would seem that just over 30,000 people in total participate in some form of nontraditional worship, compared with 36,000 in 2014".
The Membership and Finance Report (pdf) is way down the Agenda at item 19 for the next meeting of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales to be held 14 - 15 September 2016. There will be a Motion: That the Governing Body do take note of this report.
Given the seriousness of the situation one would have thought that 'taking note' of the Report is somewhat short of the mark but with "Evangelism" coming last on the agenda it puts the current state of the Church in Wales in context.