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Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Diocese of Portsmouth plants in Llandaff

Church in Wales parish church of SS Andrew and Teilo, Woodville Road, Cathays, Cardiff.                                                                              Source: Wikipedia

Not much has been coming out of the Church in Wales during the Covid-19 lock down but there is news of the diocese of Portsmouth moving in.

I have seen nothing about the event in Llandaff News flashes but there is confirmation that Portsmouth's largest church is 'looking West to plant a new church in Cardiff'.

Inspire Magazine reported on 1 June: a "team will be commissioned for its new role at a digital service on Sunday (Sun 24 May). The Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Rev Christopher Foster, has recorded a video message to be played as part of the service, expressing his joy at the move."

There is no mention of the bishop of Llandaff.

In March last year I reported that the bishop of Llandaff had sacrificed parishioners in the university church of St Teilo, Cathays, Cardiff in an initiative "to give their church away to an evangelical church called Holy Trinity Brompton. The decision was made with no consultation with the clergy or members of the congregation and wider community and she says the decision is final."

The Living Church commented at the time that plans for a church-planting partnership between the Church in Wales and London’s Holy Trinity Brompton had drawn resistance...The project will receive funding from the new Church in Wales Evangelism Fund, which has £10 million available for six dioceses and is similar to the Church of England’s Strategic Development Grants fund.

According to a statement from the diocese of Portsmouth, their Harbour Church began in September 2016 with just 20 people, and now welcomes 700 worshippers every Sunday to three different locations. It now plans to send a team of 40 people to Cardiff to set up a brand new church there from September.

"It will be called Citizen Church and will be based at St Teilo’s Church in the Cathays area of Cardiff. The 40-strong team includes 10 worshippers who already live there, a family moving from Brazil, some moving from London, and 17 worshippers who will relocate from Harbour Church in Portsmouth. It will be led by the Rev Ryan Forey, currently curate at Harbour Church."

When the project was unveiled in 2019 the Church in Wales suggested that the project would “seek to attract young people who are currently outside the church, eventually planting more church communities in the diocese", displacing existing congregations in the process.

Displacing regular worshippers has a familiar ring for traditionalist Anglicans who were forced out because they sought to keep the Apostolic faith against a tide of secularism.


  1. You mean the Anglican Bishop of Portsmouth.

  2. PP. Without CiW approval, licences etc, the planting group can't be active in a Welsh Parish, or has the Anglican Bishop of Portsmouth some dispensation?
    Wales does not need inter-planting or use of its evangelism funds for such purposes. The new work in Wrexham and Newport are testament to home grown talent.
    Why have we not got an Anglo-Catholic plant,they stay the course and feed the spiritually hungry. These Evangelical plants, are all bells and whistles with little to offer average Churchgoers, most eventually fracture, split and cause little in the way of salvation. But, the Anglo-Catholic model stands firm on doctrine, pastoral care and community cohesion.
    The Cardiff University is served well by several evangelical churches, why add another, or is it game set and match?

  3. Gradually the Alpha movement will devour the Church IN Wales until it resorts to being the Church OF England in Wales once again."The end of the Church in Wales as we know it". Plenty of redundant churches available. So that's why we've got a blank page p75 in the new CiW publication then. As the advert for Tartan Beer once read, "Brewed by Scotsmen for Welshmen to enjoy".
    Hefin Schillingbeck

  4. That which is planted can just as easily be uprooted.

  5. I wonder how many of the Portsmouth plants will be Welsh speakers?

  6. Baptist Trainfan4 June 2020 at 08:58

    Anonymous above says two things on which I'd like to comment.

    1. "These Evangelical plants, are all bells and whistles with little to offer average Churchgoers". True, obviously. But that's not who they are for: they are being aimed at a group who do not attend church at all and who, it is (probably correctly) assumed would never feel at home in a traditional parish church. Whether these congregations survive in the long-term is a moot point, especially when one realises that students and young professionals tend not to stay long in one place but move around. Cardiff today, Newcastle tomorrow, London next year.

    2. "The Cardiff University is served well by several evangelical churches, why add another?" Simply to say that I've asked myself the same question. Of course there are many thousands of students who have no Christian or church affiliation and need to be "reached" with the Gospel. But, on the surface at least, the impression being given is that the CinW wants to get a slice of what seems to be a known "growth market" but may already be saturated. Wouldn't it be better to think of well-resourcing church plants in new housing areas such as the south of St Mellons or out beyond Plasmawr?

  7. Perhaps the Church in Wales could do a Church plant in Eastbourne... just send a 68 year old cleric (former school teacher of course) and her 6 remaining parishioners (all over 85) in a minibus and they could call it "Mobile Senior Citizen Church"

    1. The present Church in Wales couldn't plant a flower bed let alone a church plant.
      Hefin Schillingbeck

  8. Baptist Trainfan4 June 2020 at 16:44

    Some people don't like the HTB/Evangelical style of doing church and feel it isn't "real Anglicanism" ... I get that.

    Many people here feel that the way the Diocese "took over" St Teilo's was wrong, or at least mishandled ... I get that.

    All of us are concerned that the Church and indeed the Christian faith seem to be in terminal decline in Wales (although we would have different views as to why) ... I get that.

    We may wonder why resources are being directed at "Citizen Church" rather than elsewhere (and may also suspect a CofE incursion or takeover bid) ... I get that too.

    BUT why do so many have to be so negative about any attempts to "break new ground" or "do things in a different way" if it falls into the category of "by all means, reaching some"? We are not living in the 1600s or even the 1950s, we cannot turn the clock back and yearn for the good old days which have gone for good. Like it or not, we have to find ways of presenting the Apostolic Faith in terms which will communicate with, inspire and enthuse a generation who haven't even given up on "proper church" but who regard it as a total irrelevance. Of course we don't sideline loyal church members - but even they must realise that God may wish to lead them into unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory - such as the nature of taking up our crosses and walking a pilgrim path with Jesus. Whether "Citizen Church" is the right path to take remains to be seen; it's a "corporate" and "glitzy" approach that does not warm me at all but then I'm in my 60s and not my 20s!

    1. Something similar has happened in my local university city here in England, although I know nothing of the financial implications, nor of how the right-on tee-shirt wearing clergyman in charge and his wife (these people always seem to hunt in couples) are managing to occupy themselves while the city is empty of students. I can understand that the rather dowdy left-behind atmosphere of a shrinking geriatric congregation in a draughty Victorian barn would have little appeal to all but the most dedicated practising Anglicans of that generation, but how much more worthwhile to "break new ground" by sending a holy celibate priest or group of celibate priests to take over a dying church and restore traditional God-centred worship centred on an eastward-facing Eucharist with no concessions to passing fads and fancies, out of which the target audience will (or ought to) grow before they get to 25. Among the RCs this is happening in places like the "Dome of Home" in New Brighton and St Walburge's in Preston (check websites); it may even be reflected in Cardiff at St Martin's, Roath.

    2. The trouble is Matthew that I suspect that holy celibate priests are as rare as hen's teeth.

  9. Baptist Trainfan4 June 2020 at 16:57

    A typo - that should read "such IS the nature of taking up our crosses".

  10. Long years ago I used to worship at St Teilo's during stays in Cardiff in my student days - the first serious love of my life lived thereabouts!

    It wasn't a very thriving church even then - perhaps thirty on average for the Sunday sung Eucharist in a vast though impressive building. But my cariad lived in Gabalfs, and an 11:00 Eucharist fitted in with both my juvenile morning sleepiness and with the Sunday domestic arrangements of the cariad's household. Moreover, the priest and people there were a welcoming lot, if a tad diffident, and I thought they needed the extra bums on pews more than the other more robust Anglican congregations in that area.

    So when the internet age arrived, I did a search to see if the parish was still functioning, and discovered that indeed it was; but that the church seemed now to have geared itself to a predominantly student ministry.

    I wasn't surprised, given the proximity of Cathays to the university, the huge expansion of higher education in the decades since I was there, and the tendency of students these days to live outside halls of residence. The low cost housing locally would obviously be attractive to landlords catering for the student market; exactly the same thing was starting to happen in Brynmill, Swansea, where I lived in the early '70s, and has continued ever since.

    But the current 'parish culture' at St Teilo's implied by their website seemed to be what you'd expect these days from Anglicans in such circumstances: 'inclusive', non-judgemental, 'take it at your own pace' exploration. And I think there's scope for that sort of ministry in places where students abound; faith's a journey, and people may need to feel their way in a process of discovery which ultimately may work for them - or maybe not. But there's surely a ministry which can be offered to those from a secular background who are drawn to seeking.

    But if St Teilo's is to be absorbed into the Holy Trinity, Brompton 'empire' they should be aware that certain distinctive changes will be inherent to the process. The sort of Christianity believed in the HTB 'empire' isn't noticeably accommodating about matters like same-sex relationships and 'equal marriage'. And they're inclined to take a literal I Corinthians 11:3 interpretation of the relationship, authority-wise, of man and woman. St Teilo's folk will need to be prepared for that, because you can bet that the forty 'church planters' due to arrive in Cathays will be relentlessly 'on-message'. Nor will they be inclined to vary their doctrine on Bishop June's say-so!!

    However that may turn out, a glance at St Teilo's website reveals that the existing congregation has already been moved out! It states:

    'Since 1st January 2020 St. Teilo's Church has been closed for renovation and preparation to host a Diocesan Resource Church which is to be established there later in 2020.

    In the meantime, the St. Teilo congregation is worshipping at 11.15 am each Sunday at St. Michael's Church, Whitchurch Road, St. Teilo's sister church in the Parish of Cathays.'

    Seemingly St Michael's folk have their customary Sunday Eucharist at 9:30 am - just as they did 50+ years ago when they were a daughter church of St John Baptist - and then the St Teilo's congregation moves in afterwards for their own Eucharist at 11:15.

    Presumably the St Teilo's folk will get to move back in due course. But when they do, they can expect to be very much 'under new management'! In the meantime I wonder who's paying for the 'renovation and preparation'? Perhaps it ought to be HTB, because they're loaded - in fact I wouldn't be too surprised if their assets turned out to exceed those of the entire diocese of Llandaff!

  11. I notice that the Welsh Tourist Board has altered its motto to "Visit Wales LATER"!

  12. Sounds like sound advice by the Tourist Board Father D. Rather than the reckless and selfish behaviour of those who flout our laws when crossing our border at such a time.