Two topics dominated this year’s diocesan conference: evangelism and the progress towards establishing Local Ministry Areas (LMAs)
LMAs: In her keynote address, Bishop Joanna stressed that, while it was not something anyone wanted to do, the diocese faced no alternative.
“We simply don’t have the money to support a stipendiary priest in every parish,” she said. “But I value the way that, even if you hate it, you’ve come to the meetings, you’ve been honest and you’ve taken part.”
Her speech was preceded by presentations outlining different aspects of the ongoing process:
- Canon Michael Rowlands described his experience of reality on the ground in Dewisland (North Pembrokeshire);
- Revd Jonathan Copus delivered a video presentation on the practical steps he and the ministry team in the Mynydd y Mor LMA Video
- Transition Missioner Marianne Osborne updated conference on the work of her team in helping parishes work out the best way forward for them; Video
- Diocesan Secretary Howard Llewellyn explained the ways in which the diocesan office was able to help with training and advice on finance;
- Canon Patrick Thomas offered a lighter, feline perspective, courtesy of Cosmo the cat, facing life in a Larger Mousing Area Video
EVANGELISM: The conference was introduced to the new Archdeacon for New Christian Communities, Ven Mones Farah, who outlined his vision for stimulating growth, particularly among young people, and the stark situation facing the Church without it.
“Let’s be radical,” he said. “They are not coming to us. Let’s go to them!” But he said that while there was disenchantment with Church, there was a lot of interest in spirituality.
“We need to be putting in place things that engage with that,” he said. “We need to find groups that are meeting and go and join with them…creating partnerships within the communities we serve.”
This was underlined by members of the diocesan Youth Forum. Their plea was simple – listen to us if you want to make Church more friendly and appealing to young people.
In the afternoon business session, the chairman of the Board of Finance, Nick Griffin, revealed a £3.5m shortfall in the funds available to support the stipendiary clergy due in part to the continuing drop in receipts from the Province.
Nevertheless, he said “we are committed to finding the resources needed to finance the Bishop’s strategy for the diocese.”
A motion to appoint a new panel to take responsibility for chairing the conference was passed unanimously. However, some members urged that the posts should be elected rather than appointed, in the interests of representative democracy.
There was also a new conference feature – Question Time. In all, seven questions were submitted and five answered in the conference hall. Written answers will also be provided for the other two and all will be made available on the diocesan website in due course.