How can sow seeds of hope in our communities and allow God’s life-giving waters to soak them in order to ensure growth?
That was a key question for a group of some forty individuals attending a Welsh-language conference in Cardiff Bay at the start of May. There was enthusiastic representation from each diocese in Wales as well as St. Padarn’s Institute to consider how our wonderful Welsh treasures can become a means for us to nurture a lively Christian witness by the Church in Wales throughout the country. The emphasis was on being positive rather than bemoaning our defects and decline! What is the Church in Wales already doing through the Welsh language that is good and how can we do more of it? How are God’s living waters already bubbling up and how can we open more of our “parched land” (to borrow Pantycelyn’s phrase) that it may receive His renewing power?
We had opportunity to appreciate our Welsh Christian heritage and understand how it has influenced us and those around us. Inspiration flowed through the excellent Bible studies which considered the importance of water in John’s Gospel. A series of workshops explored various aspects of the Church’s life, including worship, music, understanding our context, serving our communities, evangelism, working with families, spirituality and putting our faith to work for the vulnerable. All this activity was woven together in a lovely atmosphere of prayer and worship. There we experienced the familiar words of the liturgy alongside new, creative ones; powerful sermons to encourage us; traditional hymns and new, original compositions sitting side by side; accustomed patterns of praying as well as fresh expressions. It all came together in the Eucharist, that wonderful sacrament which, in the words of the artist David Jones, “dissolves time”.
As well as enjoying the contribution of the Church in Wales delegates, we received valuable input from speakers of other traditions. This felt like an opportunity to begin healing the divisions of the past and climb over our denominational boundaries in order to grow the Kingdom. The conference ended through declaring our longing to nurture confidence amongst our Welsh speakers as we serve our country, to create original liturgical material in Welsh and to work interdenominationally as much as possible. We seek to do this to honour God and to ensure a living witness in our ancient language during the generations to come.