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Tuesday, 14 August 2018

St Asaph Cathedral's turn to face the music

St Asaph Cathedral                                                                                        Source: Church in Wales

The Dean and Chapter of St Asaph Cathedral have released a statement regarding their financial position.

It says “Following a reduction in the budget, which has been under financial pressure for some time, we have had to review our financial position...We can however give our assurances that arrangements will be put in place to ensure that the Cathedral continues to provide the same high standards of music and worship for principal cathedral and diocesan services.”

According to a BBC report the job losses will affect part-time employees, including the cathedral's director of music and his assistant. It is understood the redundancies will not affect any members of the clergy.

No surprise there.

Back in June the Bishop of St Asaph announced a new line up to the diocesan leadership team:

"Announcing the new team, Bishop Gregory said: 'The retirement of two Archdeacons this year gives us the opportunity to change the role and responsibilities of Archdeacons.  Originally conceived as the bishop’s fixers, we want our archdeacons to lead the renewal of the Church, and to mentor and lead Mission Areas towards growth'."

Growth has been most evident at the top in the Church in Wales with the appointment of extra archdeacons and advisers to assist a bench of bishops busily trying to satisfy the desires of the flesh rather than the needs of the spirit.

One thing the bishops show no inclination to fix is the top-heavy structure as recommended in the Harries Review [15. Dioceses: their number and administration]. 

From an entry Welsh bishops relegate unity:
Empire building in a declining church appears to be high on the list of priorities for the bench of bishops even though the Church in Wales Review recommended a reduction in the number of dioceses and the associated administrative costs.

From Section 15 of the Review:

"...there is a widespread sense across the church that the Church in Wales is top heavy, with too many committees and too much time spent on simply keeping the institution going as it is."

No change there then.

The bishops of St Davids, St Asaph, Llandaff, Swansea and Brecon (archbishop), Bangor, and Monmouth having a laugh          Source: Premier Christian Radio


  1. Alwyn from Abertawe14 August 2018 at 12:57

    Oh dear, what can the matter be
    Llanelwy's budget has gone down the lavatory...

    Or is it more the case that the 10 million quid Shirley has given to Andy Crap to revitalise the Church in Wales is not going anywhere near the cathedrals, but is being used to fund pointless 'mission areas' and additional, but ineffectual, archdeacons?

    In the Church of England, there is widespread recognition that cathedrals are the Church's 'success story' and resources (financial, human and artistic) are being invested in them. There is a strategy to ensure that the clergy staffing them are of a high calibre (clearly not the case in Wales - and not likely to be if the amateur advert for a Precentor at Llandaff is anything to go by), and that music in general, and choral liturgy in particular, is a key factor in the 35% growth in worshippers over the past decade. Where you have young people in choirs, you have young families in congregations - that's especially true of one-time 'Parish Church' cathedrals like Portsmouth, Sheffield and Coventry. In contrast, 110 Anglican churches were closed in Wales over the same period. That's a neat summary of Byzantine Barry's gift to the Church he worked so hard to wreck.

    It makes you wonder whether Peggy the Pilate and The Capon have been advising the Chapter of St Asaph. It all has a rather familiar ring, doesn't it? Certainly, no lessons seem to have been learned from the shambles at Llandaff.

    1. Alwyn, though it's true that our English cathedrals are generally doing better they're by no means uniformly successful. As Exeter and Peterborough show, the wrong management can cause a place to nosedive in no time.

      What is different in the C of E is a more interventionist attitude due to the Church Commissioners and bishops who will carry out visitations to rectify problematic situations, like ineffective deans.

      There's a debate right now as to the future independence of the cathedrals and it's likely their finances will be more centrally controlled. I suspect that despite the veneer of prosperity several more are on shaky ground and will come to light in the not too distant future.

      The best-placed cathedrals are those in the heart of popular tourist cities like York Minster, Winchester and Bath Abbey. Their future seems assured. Others in the post-industrial Northern areas or newer dioceses like Guildford are not at all secure.
      (e.g. "Cathedrals 'not too big to fail', Archbishop of Canterbury warns cash-strapped Guildford" )

      Of course in medieval times there were only 27 English cathedrals and 17 dioceses, as opposed to 42 dioceses now (inc Gibraltar and the Channel Islands). Whether this is sustainable for much longer is debatable.

  2. Headless Chickens, Alwyn. They've had the management consultants in, paid them a humungous fortune to identify that music is the largest cost (as it is in every cathedral - and for good reasons) and, without any strategic foresight, have decided that this is where the axe will fall.

    What they've not budgeted for is the decline in attendance, visitor numbers and general income, let alone planned giving, when people walk away with their cheque books because the music is no longer enriching worship in the way it did. The Dean is hardly in the first division, and simply does not get it that you cannot maintain professional standards with amateur musicians. It has been proved to be the case at Llandaff. It was the case at Bradford nearly 40 years ago when they sacked the organist (and things have never really recovered there even to this day). What a bunch of rank amateurs the clergy are - and no threat of redundancy for them. They should be the first to go, if you ask me, especially as they have not offered one word of explanation for how the Cathedral got into this mess in the first place. If this was Peterborough, the Dean would have been the first to go. Are you listening, Gregorios?

    1. The deans of Peterborough and Exeter were the first to go Charles, both for good reasons.
      Llandaff has still not recovered from the cultural vandalism visited upon it by the terminally inept Peggy the Pilate, what's left of the Parish choir is a shambles, there is no investment, crowdfunding was an humiliating failure and now they've come up with a stroke of genius - to try and form a new choir of volunteers called the "Consort" after the antiques dealing dud in the Deanery summarily dismissed the Merbecke choir.

      But that's ok Charles, there is plenty of lose change available for sham clergy pilgrimages to Santiago di Compostela.

    2. Here's the advertisement.
      Mr Moore will be crushed in the rush.
      No fees, no contract, no incentives, typical Llandaff.

  3. Gregorious Pomposo Maximus is not listening to you Charles or to anyone else. He is far too busy munching his way through vast quantities of sandwiches throughout the working day. Perhaps this is why the D & C decided to squander their money and the money of grant making bodies on new catering facilities for non existent visitors.

  4. PP. Seems like CinW are in the throws of serious mismanagement. Given that two Cathedrals are in financial deficit; two dioceses have added new clergy management posts, laity posts, costing huge sums, for what?
    Parishes fall apart under new mission areas, less vocations, and greater parish share to support a top heavy Church.
    Then there is Callaghan Square (what happened to the sale of Cathedral Road I wonder). More expenses, more advisor posts, for province, smaller than some CofE dioceses.
    Perhaps the electoral roll members need to mobilize. After all whose Church is it after all.
    If we cross the border, we can see that some CofE Cathedrals have responded to there own crisis and turned a corner. But when you here that the Leeds Diocese is in serious financial straits, the problems in the CinW are far worse. But who is to blame, who takes responsibility, I'm afraid no one is stepping up to the mark on this one.

  5. 3 stipended clergy and 4 paid virgers at llandaff on Sunday morning last. What???


    1. The vergers have been milking Llandaff for years, especially the slimy amphibian Mr Toad.
      Remember the publicity for the Llandaff festival - everyone is giving of their time and talents for free and all profits go to the Organ Appeal.
      Readers might be surprised to learn that when they were running the Festival bar, the two head Vergers were being paid for their time - at overtime rates.
      Don't believe me?
      Ask the Canon Residentiary.

    2. Chwarae teg Anonymous...….
      El Presidente himself was 'perching' that Sunday .... so probably needed at least 4 bodyguards to belabour the immense congregation with their virges as the throng press about him.... eager to touch the hem of his vestments.... whilst he dreams of the day they will kiss his ring.

      Or perhaps he thought CE and the Finzi 'Lo the FFS' might prove too prescient.

      Ron … however did you manage when we actually had 'full-houses'?

      We all knew that the Misery Areas were devised to try and obfuscate the sprint to inflate jobs and more importantly pensions before they accomplish the final demise of the CinW. O tempora o mores.

      How did poor old Ron manage when they had full-houses

    3. Beleagured of Bangor15 August 2018 at 16:49

      Talking of additional and ineffectual archdeacons, over here in Bungling Bangor, we now have an additional archdeacon, but they're having to flog the family silver (in the form of the Archdeaconry in Bangor, one of the best houses in the Diocese) to pay for it, with a price tag of over half a million quid. That now means Andy Crap has got £10.5m on mission,

    4. "We continue as we please". Now off you lot, you've sworn canonical obedience in "all things lawful and honest".

    5. It's funny, isn't it, how the number of virgers has gone up as the congregation figures at Llandaff have gone down the drain.

      Of course Mr Toad's legendary management skills mean he needs more and more factotums to do the job of just one Ron Roberts (RIP). What the Chapter should do is take away his little helpers and force him to actually tidy the place up.

      (Apparently the office girls can't stand him either - the most recent left after just a few months...)

      The sooner all the workshy duck fanciers are kicked out of Eglwys Gadeiriol Llandaf the better!

    6. More fodder for the fertilising the rhubarb in the latest edition of the Llandaff weekly notes.
      "Cathedral Administration - As many of you know, the post of Cathedral Secretary has been filled over the last couple of years by temporary staff in order to maintain some flexibility. The Cathedral expects shortly to move to a more permanent arrangement but in the meantime, the Parish Warden, Charlotte Davey, will be joining the office team voluntarily, to provide additional cover. I am very grateful to her for this support.
      The Dean."

      What a pack of porky pies.
      There are various reasons staff turnover has been so large not least of which if Mr Toad's attitude and the shambolic manner in which the place is run by the antiques dealing dud-in-the-Deanery.
      Potential applicants would be wise to verify matters for themselves with any of the previous six "temps".

    7. Fast turnover of staff?
      Another sure sign of an organisation in terminal decline!
      But what are the Chapter that couldn't run a bath doing about it?
      Answers on the back of a postage stamp.

    8. Vacancies galore in Llandaff this week.
      This one is advertised in the Church Times.
      The unfilled Minor Canon Precentor role has been upgraded.

    9. For any potential candidates thinking of chucking their names into the sorting hat, here's a couple of timely reminders about the person to whom you would be answerable.

      The Capon, August 24 2015.
      "We have nothing whatever to hide - the Cathedral is gaining a new confidence and we are excited about the future and serious about the challenges that face us.”

      The Caopn, August 26 2015.
      “There are many positive initiatives taking shape in the cathedral that are bringing a renewed optimism; we hope to share the outcomes of these plans in the not-too-distant future.”
      The Very Revd Gerwyn Capon
      Dean of Llandaff, Cardiff
      It is still always "Jam tomorrow".

    10. That's a very sparse job description isn't it? Compare with the advert for an Archdeacon and Residentiary Canon for Gloucester Cathedral, which has plenty to say:

      And good luck getting an audience with Gerwhine for that "informal discussion" about the job. Odds-on he'll either be away (in the week) or "busy".

      Prospective applicants should first consider their sanity and peace of mind before phoning the Capon.

    11. Teilo, a fast turnover of staff can be an indication that the boss is a bully. It is also a sign that the workforce are unfulfilled or taken for granted in what they are being asked to do. I do not know the Dean; so I do not know if these things are applicable to him. Nevertheless, it is not just Llandaff that is terminal decline, it is the whole of the Church in Wales. And all the while, the bench sitters fiddle while Rome burns; and as the flames get higher, the bishop of Bangor throws £10 million at them in the hope that all that paper will put the fire out.

    12. Gerwhine should apply to become the vicar of St Chad's, Wood End in Coventry. It's practically got his name written all over it. Read on:

      Are you fun to be with?
      Are you interested in building good relationships between church and community?
      Are you robust and resilient?
      Then perhaps God may be calling you to become:

      Vicar, St Chad's, Wood End, Coventry

      We welcome applications from candidates who:

      *Feel called to serve God in communities where people’s lives are not easy. This will include the ability to mediate and bring healing in people’s relationships in family and community contexts.

      *Are robust and resilient, with a good sense of humour and ability to have fun even in difficult situations.

      * Enjoy community development and associated community action groups.

      * Can appropriately link social action initiatives with evangelistic and discipleship initiatives, helping people to become followers of Christ.

      * Will not be intimidated by strong characters within and outside the church community.

      Surely God is calling him to give up the tedium of Llandaff and go to an exciting job in Wood End. Even the name sounds right up his street!

    13. Llandaff Pewster26 August 2018 at 17:53

      For prospective candidates and other interested parties who might like to know, here's how Capon builds "good relationships between church and community".



      Mr Dxxxx Jxxxx
      XX Xxx Road
      CF5 2xx

      Dear Mr Jxxxx

      Thank you for your letter 26th March. [2016]

      I think you must be clear about the way this matter has come to my attention.

      Originally, you did not at any time offer the courtesy of a letter telling me that you intended to give up serving – I discovered this by accident.

      Secondly it was Jxxx Kxxxxx and then Hxx Dxxxxx who wrote to me to eventually ask whether you could cover the serving duty at the Welsh Language Eucharist once again during Hxx’s absence. So I take exception to the insinuation that I have somehow conducted this matter in an underhand way.

      Your list of past duties, outlined in your letter, is in my view entirely eclipsed by your continual briefing against me, the Cathedral’s staff, its Chapter and Cathedral life itself. There are many people who find your presence and behaviour deeply concerning as it undermines the wellbeing of the Cathedral community.

      When you shook my hand outside the Deanery immediately after meeting the Archbishop and promised to help me accelerate plans for fund raising rather then pull open an apparent wound over the organ fundraising, you reneged on that agreement within hours to join forces with Dxxxx Lxxxxxx in reporting the matter to the Charity Commission – whose answer was, as I had total confidence it would be, a clear and unequivocal affirmation of the Cathedral’s position.

      Serving at the altars of the Cathedral is a privilege that is mine to allow. I am happy to see you kneeling at them but nothing else.

      Yours sincerely,

      The Very Reverend Gerwyn Capon.

    14. Up his street?
      Wood End?
      Here's hoping he gets splinters!

    15. Caiaphas must go!26 August 2018 at 19:55

      If that's another genuine letter from the nasty little man in the Deanery then how the hell can she who must not be named possibly continue to defend the little runt?

    16. One wonders to what correspondence the poison dwarf in the Deanery was replying?

    17. Remind me again: why is this man the senior priest of the Diocese of Llandaff?

      In the "real world" he'd barely make it as a floor manager for Poundland.

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

  6. I can say after many years in industry that if the management is incompetent the whole business suffers. The wrong people in the wrong jobs wreaks havoc. Llandaff?


  7. Well it's now official, according to the BBC today, redundant Music Team at At Asaph

    How can a Church spent collosal amounts on Provincial Office space, several new advisors, extra Archdeaconries and still have the b... to cut back in such away? Surely the time has come for the pew sitters to call the Bench Sitters to account DPM.

    1. The answer is for the people of St Asaph to stop their giving.
      Just as the sensible people in Llandaff have already done.