A message from the Chairman of Credo Cymru, Canon Jeffrey Gainer
Almost a century ago the new Province of Wales came into being, with its own system of governance and finance. At that time the Welsh Church expressly declared its intention to adhere to the doctrinal formularies of the Church of England. This was not surprising, as from Norman times the four ancient Welsh dioceses had been an integral part of the Southern Province and its bishops had sworn allegiance to the see of Canterbury.
Inevitably, in the course of nearly a hundred years some differences have arisen between the two churches. However, we face similar problems and need only mention here the secularisation of English and Welsh society which affects us all. There remain also many links between us, and not least between members of The Society and members of Credo Cymru. We in Wales take this opportunity to assure our brothers and sisters in England of our good wishes as you continue to witness to mainstream Christian belief and seek to bring home to your people the riches of the Faith. Our hope too is that you may indeed flourish in a secure sacramental context within the Church of England under the leadership and guidance of your bishops, for whom we also pray.
One significant difference between our situation and yours that has emerged in recent years concerns provision for the minority in our two countries who adhere to the majority practice in Christendom concerning female ordination. When the bill to authorise the ordination of women to the priesthood was passed in our Governing Body in 1996, we were assured of a continuing place within the Church in Wales. The diocesan bishops themselves appointed the Rt Revd David Thomas as the Provincial Assistant Bishop – his task was to help maintain unity within Welsh Anglicanism. In 2008 Bishop David retired after a fruitful and demanding pastoral ministry. He has not been replaced, and we regret this greatly.
In 2014 the Governing Body at Lampeter passed legislation permitting the admission of women to the episcopate. As yet no episcopal elections have been held here and so, unlike yourselves, we have no women bishops at present. However, the sees of St Davids and Llandaff will both fall vacant within the next few months. In such a situation the Council of Credo Cymru is understandably concerned to safeguard the integrity and prospects of all those who on the grounds of conscience are resolved, like yourselves, to uphold the mainstream Christian tradition in respect of Holy Orders and ethical teaching.
Our numbers include several younger clergy with families, as well as lay communicants scattered throughout the land. Accordingly, Credo Cymru is organising a residential Conference in Cardiff on September 21 and 22, which will be attended by those who support the ordination of women and those who do not. We hope to consider in a prayerful manner the ways in which we too can ensure that all members of this Church may flourish. We have invited some participants from the Church of England and we look forward to drawing upon their experience in recent times and also to hearing their reflections on how the Five Principles issued by the English House of Bishops are being implemented in our sister Church.
Meetings of this sort are not an infallible answer to the problems and opportunities we face here, so I would enter a plea to all readers of New Directions to remember us all in prayer at this time. Fr Colin Sutton, who serves in Cardiff, has written a prayer. It follows this piece and we commend it to you. Though attendance at the Conference is necessarily by invitation only, there will be a Sung Eucharist at St Martin’s, Roath, on Wednesday 21 September at 6.30 pm, to which all are welcome. The preacher will be one of the Conference participants, the Rt Revd Philip North, Bishop of Burnley.
The Conference itself is entitled “That nothing be lost”. This title seeks to encourage all those taking part to be mindful of the wisdom of preserving the theological breadth of Anglicanism. Bishop Rowan Williams stressed some years ago the value of promoting internal ecumenism. It is in that spirit that we commend the impending Conference to your prayers.
Risen Lord, by your wounds made glorious
pour out your saving grace to bring healing
where there is division,
and a fresh vision of hope where there is fear and despair;
may all our hearts burn afresh as you break open the
Gospel of life,
and feed us with the Bread of your Body,
so that, wherever possible, we may work together
recognising each other’s needs,
rejoicing in each other’s strengths,
so that others may come to know you
as their Lord and Saviour,
the Way, the Truth, and the Life;
now and for ever. Amen.