|The Bishop of Llandaff, June Osborne delivering her first presidential address|
to members of the Llandaff Diocesan Conference. Source: Church in Wales
"As someone whose first love was sociology I’m fascinated by how people draw the various maps of their world so one of my earliest requests to help me understand the diocesan landscape was that we should have a large map in the office showing the physical shape of the diocese. It arrived last week and already I stand in front of it with colleagues getting them to explain to me how things work."
The Rt Rev June Osborne, Bishop of Llandaff
The new bishop of Llandaff's first presidential address at a Llandaff diocesan conference makes informative reading. Strong on sociology but weak on theology and spirituality she should sit easily on a bench of bishops devoid of such talents. Formerly five of the bishops in Wales held Oxford Firsts in Theology.
Bishop Osborne said, "I will go on studying and using my map of the Llandaff Diocese but there’s another map going on which I’ve begun to study and that is the map of the diocese which we each carry in our heads. We’ve been doing some exploring of it today: and as I visit all the Deaneries in these next months I’ll be listening carefully to what you think ought to be our priorities because they’re writ large on your maps of how church should work."
This is far removed from the hype about the Dean of Salisbury beginning to transform Llandaff as soon as she crossed the Llys Esgob threshold. With parity high on her agenda her first move was to appoint a woman Chaplain as she began fishing for ideas on how to proceed in her new role.
Presumably the Archbishop of Wales had such imports in mind when he referred to the "huge range of talent, skill and faith" that the Church in Wales has among its people, both lay and ordained. 'Had' rather than has would have been more accurate.
Archbishop Davies has promised ‘more of the same’— but faster. In a pre- Primates’ 2017 conference video the Archbishop looked forward to learning from other provinces, ideas on new styles and new ways of delivering ministry, "something which we are seeking to do" in Wales he said. More of the same but faster can only mean accelerated decline.
Consultation is a bench favourite to be ignored at will so the new bishop outlined how she was inviting clergy and lay people to help her draw up a common map of the diocese by pinpointing where they saw themselves and the part they played in it.
Sadly many of the most able clergy now see themselves in England while lay people play no part after the Church in Wales left them.
The situation we find ourselves in is neatly summed up in the headline by Olivia Rudgard, religious affairs correspondent of the Telegraph: Number of new trainee priests hits ten-year high as 'celebrity vicars' make the Church look 'normal'.
Celebrity vicars like the Reverend Richard Coles and the Reverend Kate Bottley have "made the church more accessible" according to the Rt Revd Jan McFarlane, bishop of Repton. She also highlighted the BBC's 'Broken' and 'Rev' as good media portrayals of the clergy.
Perhaps she was not aware of the BBC series about church in Wales ordinands 'Why we’re all represented in the Vicar Academy'.
The report shows a "ten-year high" in trainee clergy with more women than men starting training as priests for the first time in sixteen years. One of the ordinands, a journalist aged 33 and mother-of-three, says she has been encouraged by moves to make the priesthood more inclusive to women, such as part-time curacies and courses that fit around childcare.