A radical new vision for the future is set out in The Church in Wales Review report launched today.
Supersize parishes run by teams of vicars and lay people, creative ideas for ensuring churches stay at the heart of their communities and investing in ministry to young people are among the report’s recommendations.
The Church in Wales commissioned the root-and-branch review a year ago to address some of its challenges and to ensure it was fit for purpose as it faced its centenary in 2020. Three people experienced in ministry and church management examined its structures and activities and heard evidence in public meetings held across Wales and attended by more than 1,000 people.
The review group consisted of Lord Richard Harries of Pentregarth, a former Bishop of Oxford and group chair; Professor Charles Handy, a former professor of the London Business School; and Professor Patricia Peattie, first chairwoman of the Lothian University Hospitals NHS Trust and former chair of the Episcopal Church in Scotland’s standing committee.
The group held public meetings in all six Welsh dioceses: Cardiff, Abergavenny, Carmarthen, Bangor, St. Asaph and Brecon – between November 2011 and January 2012. People were also invited to send in written submissions, and separate meetings were held with senior clergy from each diocese, bishops’ advisers, ordinands, and staff at St. Michael’s College, the principality’s theological college in Cardiff.
In March, the group heard the views of a delegation of young people from across the Welsh church.
At the open meetings, people were asked what aspect of both their dioceses and the church as a whole they felt most positive about and what changes would make its ministry more effective. They were also asked how they would address challenges such as the predicted fall in clergy numbers and financial resources.
The report, soon to be presented to the church’s governing body for consideration, makes 50 recommendations. These include:
? replacing parishes with much larger ministry areas, which would mirror the catchment areas of secondary schools and be served by a team of clergy and lay people;
? creatively using church buildings to allow them to be accessed by the whole community;
? training lay people to play a greater part in church leadership;
? investing more in ministry for young people;
? developing new forms of worship to reach out to those unfamiliar with church services;
The Archbishop of Wales, Dr. Barry Morgan, welcomed the report. “We are enormously indebted to the review group because it has absorbed a great deal of information about us as a church in a short period of time and has made some very perceptive and insightful comments and recommendations,” he said. “We, as a church, will have to give serious consideration to this report and its recommendations from parish up to province and decide where we go from here.”