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Wales to reform parochial system: The Church of England Newspaper, September 23, 2012 p 5. September 27, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church in Wales, Church of England Newspaper.
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The Governing Body of the Church in Wales may end the parochial system of parish ministry, changing the traditional organization of church life from parishes to “ministry areas” modeled on the catchment areas of secondary schools.

Meeting at Trinity Saint David at the University of Wales Lampeter on 13-14 Sept 2012, the Governing Body unanimously accepted a report for detailed study prepared by commission chaired by the former Bishop of Oxford Lord Harries that proposed a complete overhaul of the local organization of the church.

Vicars would no longer be “lone rangers” the Archbishop of Wales, Dr. Barry Morgan, told the meeting, but would be part of a mixed team ministry of stipendiary and NSM clergy, youth workers and lay church workers for a region comprising approximately 25 current parishes.

Amongst the 50 recommendations made by the committee were the amalgamation of parishes into “ministry areas”; the employment of a full time youth worker in each archdeaconry;  “creative use” of church buildings to generate income and serve the sider community; training lay people for church leadership responsibilities; investing financial resources in youth work; adopting new forms of outreach akin to the Church of England’s “Fresh Expressions” programme to reach those unfamiliar with traditional church life; promote the doctrine of tithing; create three administrative centres to serve the church’s six diocese; reform the process for electing bishops; and designate the Diocese of Llandaff as the permanent archiepiscopal see of the Church in Wales.

“The parish system is no longer sustainable,” Lord Harries told the Governing Body. “We have to radically rethink the way we look at our ministry, and begin with the concept of an area ministry.”

“The old vision of the parish priest in a small community knowing everybody no longer holds—too often the parish priest has to run a number of parishes, not able to know all the people and spending far too much time administrating PCCs and buildings,” he said.

“This does not mean that the parish system goes out of the window,” Lord Harries noted, adding we want people to “feel that the church belongs to them whether they are a member of it or not. We want the team in the ministry area to feel a responsibility to the whole community, not just to the congregations within it.”

Under his committee’s proposal “each area will have three full time stipendiary ministers, two financed by the congregations within the area” and the third financed by the province. NSM ministers would be assigned to each congregation in the ministry area as well, he added, with the goal of “reaching out to the vast population who are now totally unfamiliar with the Christian faith and the Church,” said Lord Harries.

Dr. Morgan said the Church in Wales was “enormously indebted to the Review Group” for its work and said that “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.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

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