The Diocesan Conference comprises lay members elected by Deanery Conferences, together with serving clergy, ex-officio, co-opted and nominated members. The President of the Conference is the Bishop.
It is held annually on the first Saturday of October.
The Conference has many duties and responsibilities under the Constitution of the Church in Wales, including the election of members to the Representative Body, The Governing Body, and the Diocesan Board of Nomination.
The Conference is involved in pastoral reorganisation within the diocese, and a substantial amount of its duties in this, and other respects, are delegated to the Standing Committee.
The Conference receives reports from all the diocesan directorates, boards and committees, and also receives the audited accounts and budget. Additionally, through discussion groups, it considers – and advises upon – various aspects of the mission and ministry of the Church in the diocese.
2019 CONFERENCE Bishop Joanna’s Presidential Address
GRASPING THE NETTLE
There was a different feel to this year’s diocesan conference, as David Hammond-Williams reports
For a start, it was in a new place, the conference centre at Aberystwyth University, first leg of a tour that will take it to every corner of the diocese over the next few years.
And there was plenty to discuss as Local Ministry Areas (LMAs) move from transition to development, not least the constitutional changes needed.
A motion proposed by Archdeacon Paul Mackness sought to change the way conference members are elected, to bring the process into line with the new LMA structure from next January.
In particular, the changes reflect the greater involvement of laity in LMA ministry and are intended to promote more inclusive relationships within ministry teams.
When put, the motion was carried with two votes against and three abstentions.
The bulk of formal conference business is the receipt of reports from the various diocesan boards and committees. And this looked different too.
The reports from the Ministry and Mission directorates included presentations on key aspects – vocations, leading worship, LMA development and evangelism.
Canon Marianne Osborne, who has led the transition team guiding LMAs, referred to the conference theme – grasping the nettle. “We have seen how painful [it] can be,” she said. “But it involves healing too.”
The Archdeacon for New Christian Communities, Mones Farah, announced that a £1.7m bid to the provincial Evangelism Fund for growth initiatives in Crosshands and Merlin’s Bridge, had passed its first stage and will proceed to Stage 2 in February, when he was confident it would succeed.
But the chairman of the Diocesan Board of Finance (DBF), Nick Griffin, sounded a more cautionary note. Finances remained stable, he said, but other sources of income were needed if ministry share was to be contained.
He reported that £200,000 of reserves were being used to reduce an increase in ministry share from 10.4% to 5.8%. He also revealed that the Board was reviewing the way Ministry Share is spread across the churches. “The goal is equality,” he said. “The challenge is to maintain our level of clergy at the quota of 85.”
Bishop Joanna summed up the mood in her closing presidential address, the first to be delivered bilingually:
“I trust God to work through us as a diocese,” she said. “I trust God to give us the financial resources we need. And I trust you to let him.”
A transcript of Bishop Joanna’s address is available online at https://stdavids.churchinwales.org.uk/bishop-joanna-sermons-etc