Diocesan Conference 2023
The theme of this year’s conference was Salt and Light, reflecting the choice of Social Responsibility as the diocesan focus for the year ahead.
“It covers practically everything we do,” explained Diocesan Social Responsibility Officer Justin Arnott. “And we want some good stories.”
And so it seemed. Presentations followed on Rural Affairs, Children Youth & Families and the diocesan response to both poverty and the care of refugees.
Finance continues to be problematic, as DBF Vice-chairman Tim Llewellyn reported. So much so that he announced that, for the first time, the Board was proposing a deficit budget in which expenditure exceeds income by £171,000. That’s the cost equivalent of four clergy.
To compensate, £250k has been taken from diocesan investments and the budgetary process has been changed to quarterly in order to keep a closer eye on clergy numbers and Ministry Share which, although it is to return to 2020 (i.e. pre-Covid) levels, will be kept under review and revised downwards if possible.
Two questions came up, both to do with LMA governance. Revd Peter Ratcliffe successfully sought permission to introduce a Private Members’ Motion at Governing Body to remove the upper age limit of 75 for parish post-holders. A straw poll, he said, had showed overwhelming support for the idea. But conference President Paul Mackness warned him that it would require a change to both the provincial and diocesan Constitutions to enable it to happen.
And Revd Seamus Hargrave requested that there be a review of the LMA system across the Church in Wales. Standing Committee Vice-chairman Tim Llewellyn advised that, provincially, LMAs were at various stages of development and that reviews were taking place at local rather than provincial level.
The results of two elections were announced at Conference. In one, for a diocesan clerical member of Governing Body, the successful candidate was Revd Steven Brett. And the Archdeacon of St Davids, Paul Mackness, was re-elected as a diocesan representative on the Representative Body of the Church in Wales.
Next year’s conference will be held on Saturday October 5th at a venue yet to be decided.