|Outside St Davids Cathedral "Another First for Canon Joanna, Bishop-elect." Source: Church in Wales|
"From the beginning, the Welsh language was given equality with English in the constitution and liturgy of the Church in Wales, and throughout the twentieth century some of its priests were prominent in Welsh literature." - The Church in Wales, Facing Difficulties
One hundred years after disestablishment, the Church in Wales' 2020 Vision is to "re-imagine itself in order to serve its communities more effectively... We need a cultural change in the kind of church we are". That is what the Archbishop of Wales told the The Time Is Now conference in 2014.
For the bishop elect of St Davids the kind of church she wants is based on what has been rejected by the Church in Wales, most strongly by the good people of St Davids. Her stated priority is "To encourage us that we are not simply trying to keep the show on the road but we are trying to live out our gospel of the risen Christ and the reality of God’s Holy Spirit and to live that out in our real communities, encouraging people to live out their faith in surprising and different ways, not feeling guilty that the future may look different from the past but feeling encouraged that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever and is as relevant to Wales in the 21st century as he has been through the centuries until now. But how that plays out may look very different".
Listening to Canon Penberthy on Radio 4 [@12.30] "our gospel" is the gospel according to Dr Barry Morgan. Women clergy, gay blessings and working towards same sex marriage in church. When interviewed Ed Stourton asked what sort of discrimination she had suffered. She replied it was "blank incomprehension" that she would want to exercise her own ministry rather than help her husband. Not the sort of aggravation implied by her earlier "prejudice and discrimination" claim. The implication is that lay ministry was not good enough which hardly fits with the ideas of '2020 Vision'.
So the bishop elect of St Davids, the most conservative diocese in the Province, is a liberal minded woman who on her own admission is not a fluent Welsh speaker either:
"Improving my Welsh is a priority for me now. I was in Welsh-speaking parishes in north Carmarthenshire before and people were very generous and I did learn to take services in Welsh which were received well. But I was always a bit cowardly about the conversations and I think I’ll be looking for money to go on a Welsh immersion course where I will have to take the bull by the horns and have the courage to speak the language. I really want to do it – we are a bilingual nation and the Welsh language is one of our jewels, if not our life blood."
To quote further from 'Facing Difficulties': "The Church, as ever, wishes to see the Welsh language survive and flourish, but it can do nothing without the support of its members. The Welsh language is a gift from God to all who live in Wales. It is our privilege and responsibility to use and promote it in our future mission and ministry". Surely that should have been uppermost in the mind of the facilitator for the diocese of St Davids.
'Facing difficulties' ends with the question: "How can you promote the use of the Welsh language in the Church in your area?" For a start the facilitator should have ensured that the bishop elect was a fluent Welsh speaker familiar with the diocese which is the spiritual home of the Church in Wales and a place of pilgrimage drawing people from around the world.
Disestablishment was born out of dissatisfaction with English-speaking landowners and "anti-Welsh" attitudes within the Church. Based on the appointment of the bishop elect of St Davids, heritage clearly counts for nothing. Moving forward, or "re-imagine itself", is based not on scripture and tradition but on sexual licence and equality of opportunity in the workplace where secular attitudes to 'equality' count more than theology.
The Electoral College meets behind closed doors so that everything can be done in secret leaving regular churchgoers unaware of how the President stage manages the proceedings in a situation where many members hold their positions under his patronage especially the bishops.
If this candidate matched the diocesan profile either profile was way off the mark or it was prepared to fulfil the requirements of the President who is on record as claiming that "she was deemed to be the best person to be a bishop". If the sacred synod had any spunk they would not confirm this election.
From Western Mail letters: Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Not quite the successors of St David
When the new woman bishop-designate of St David’s was on Radio Four on Sunday morning being interviewed she had at least the decency to admit that the Church in Wales blesses gay marriages.
When the male bishops deviously introduced such prayers, they claimed they were not blessings!
She also unequivocally stated that she is in favour of full same-sex marriage. Well, she is entitled to her beliefs, but if she seriously thinks she (and her male colleagues) are the legitimate actual successors of St David, they deceive themselves.
They may have the medieval cathedrals, the episcopal props and the endowments but they are self-evidently not bishops in the Church of God, pledged under sacred vow to banish away strange doctrines.
Robert Ian Williams