Thinking Anglicans

Assistant Bishop of Bangor

The Church in Wales has announced that the Revd Canon David Morris is to become the Assistant Bishop of Bangor. He will be consecrated as a bishop on 11 May 2024 and will adopt the title of Bishop of Bardsey, as well as Assistant Bishop of Bangor.

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Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
4 months ago

Wales does have an acute bishop shortage, after all.

Peter Misiaszek
Peter Misiaszek
4 months ago

Ridiculous. How many bishops do you need to service a worshipping community equal to about 1% of the Welsh population? There’s already 6 diocesan bishops. The Church in Wales seems bent on building up a bureaucracy as opposed to engaging in mission and ministry.

Andrew Lightbown
Andrew Lightbown
Reply to  Peter Misiaszek
4 months ago

That hasn’t been my experience since moving to Wales two years ago. I am v impressed by our bishops zeal for mission and the pastoral care of their flocks.

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Peter Misiaszek
4 months ago

You can never have too many middle managers.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Peter Misiaszek
4 months ago

I wonder what the ratio of episkopoi to worshipping member was in the earliest centuries of the church?

James
James
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
4 months ago

Tim, I think an episkopos in the first century at least was no different from a presbuteros.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  James
4 months ago

And I think bishops play different roles in different parts of the Anglican communion. Church of England people are used to bishops running enormous dioceses, and my observation is that few C of E clergy expect to have a personal relationship with their bishop. My diocese of Edmonton, on the other hand, has less than fifty parishes, and I have had personal relationships with all three of the bishops I’ve served under here. I would hate to serve in a diocese with four hundred parishes. So my point is, maybe the people of the Church in Wales have different expectations… Read more »

Andrew Lightbown
Andrew Lightbown
4 months ago

I have been incredibly impressed by the zeal for mission and the care of their flock by the CinW bishops since moving to Wales two years ago. I am sure David will be a wonderful addition to the bench.

John Parry
John Parry
4 months ago

There are only 27 stipendiary clergy in the whole diocese, why does the bishop need an assistant?

Realist
Realist
Reply to  John Parry
4 months ago

I don’t know this priest or anything about him, so can’t offer any comment on his preferment. But in terms of wider issues in the Diocese of Bangor, it may well be that the right person would bring a much needed steer to its culture. From what my contacts in those parts tell me, alongside some very hardworking front line parochial clergy in different parts of the Diocese, there are some ‘interesting’ aspects to its leadership and the life of its Cathedral that seem to have very little to do with furthering the Missio Dei. Of course, the new Bishop… Read more »

David Hawkins
David Hawkins
4 months ago

Not all of us have a strong faith and we need a church we can believe in. At a local and national level I can no longer believe in the Church of England. And if you can’t believe in your church family you can go through a kind of bereavement as you rock turns out to have been made of sand. I know many people feel the same. I don’t live in Wales and so I am not an expert but when I was at a very low point in my life I discovered Newport Cathedral and the diocese of… Read more »

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  David Hawkins
4 months ago

David, I think that you’re extrapolating an awful lot from your online experience of one Welsh cathedral. There need be no rivalry as to the state of entropy afflicting the two provinces.

David Hawkins
David Hawkins
Reply to  Fr Dean
4 months ago

Fr Dean I think I was more careful in what I said than you suggest. My personal experience of one Church of England Parish and diocese amounts to a very painful bereavement and I see that reflected in what many people have written about the national church. I do not of course suggest that every Church of England parish is so uncaring but many voices more experienced than me suggest that the English Church is entering a period of terminal decline. If I still lived in London I would no doubt find another parish but as I live in Berlin… Read more »

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  David Hawkins
4 months ago

Human beings and their relationships are complex things and all the more fascinating for it. It is possible to spectacularly mess things up without being a dreadful person. Like all of us, His Majesty has made mistakes in his personal life, though we do not have to cope with the forensic scrutiny that he faces; I shudder at the very thought of that. He was undeniably ahead of his time in championing the natural world and shrugged off the ridicule he faced for doing so. He set up the Prince’s Trust and has improved countless lives as a result. His… Read more »

Ian
Ian
Reply to  Fr Dean
4 months ago

Well said, Father.

Mark
Reply to  David Hawkins
4 months ago

David, isn’t there a bit of a contradiction in what you are saying here? You say that you love the Church in Wales (which is great, don’t get me wrong) because it’s humane, warm and not legalistic…. Then you make a very moralistic, cold and not very humane judgement about someone else’s marriage, instead of thinking that perhaps we *all* need to tread carefully and less judgementally about the way people form their personal relationships nowadays. I long for the day when the English cast off our propensity to be moralistic, whether it’s towards Welsh bishops, kings, or anyone else.… Read more »

David Hawkins
David Hawkins
Reply to  Mark
4 months ago

Mark and Fr Dean, I am making primarily a structural point, not a comment about personal morality. Charles is King through an accident of birth. Had he been born into a working class family there would have been no pressure to trick a teenage girl into marriage for the sole purpose of breeding two male heirs. A working class Charles would have simply married Camilla and a working class Diana would have been free to marry a man who really loved her. Most British people want a monarchy, but most British people are not Anglicans and I believe that having… Read more »

Mark
Reply to  David Hawkins
4 months ago

I doubt that the role of Supreme Governor can have anything to do with the church’s decline. If it were the case, then those parts of the British Isles where the Anglican Church is not established would not be experiencing it as England is would they? Nor indeed any of the other Christian denominations in Britain or across Europe – massive and rapid decline in Christian practice is common to all of them. It can’t possibly have anything to do with kings. Also, the swearing of allegiance to the state in the person of its head (or constitution or indeed… Read more »

Clare Marian Amos
Clare Marian Amos
4 months ago

I love the title of Bishop of Bardsey that has been given to him. Years ago I spent several weeks over a couple of years on Bardsey Island and it was a wonderful and memorable experience. Even though as someone who gets seasickness the crossings to/from the island were an ordeal. In the medieval period three visits to Bardsey equalled one to Jerusalem in the ‘justification by pilgrimage’ hierarchy. When we were on the island there was a resident hermit – a Sister of the Love of God. Even though there will be definitely more seabirds than people on the… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Clare Marian Amos
David Exham
David Exham
Reply to  Clare Marian Amos
4 months ago

The diocesan Bishop of Bangor is also Archbishop of Wales, and I believe it is the practice to support the Archbishop by appointing an assistant bishop in his or her diocese.

Richard Barrett
Richard Barrett
Reply to  David Exham
4 months ago

You are correct. In Australia, the Primate’s diocese has an assistant bishop and the national church pays 1/2 the salary.

Clifford Jones
Clifford Jones
Reply to  Richard Barrett
4 months ago

I was unaware of the current arrangements for paying an assistant bishop in the Primate’s diocese. Thanks for the information. Marcus Loane has featured once or twice in TA recently. I was an English migrant almost straight off the aeroplane when Loane, in his twelfth year as Archbishop of Sydney, was made Primate in early 1978. He had as I recall four assistants: Bishop Donald Robinson (who followed him as Archbishop, but not as Primate), Bishop John Reid, Bishop Jack Dain and Bishop Donald Cameron. I don’t think Loane received any extra episcopal help when he was made Primate. Cameron… Read more »

Clifford Jones
Clifford Jones
Reply to  David Exham
4 months ago

I think that it has happened in New Zealand that a bishop once elected archbishop would have an assistant bishop to help with diocesan work.

Michael Hopkins
Michael Hopkins
4 months ago

The Bishop of Bangor is also Archbishop of Wales. It doesn’t seem wholly unreasonable to me that the Archbishop of a province could have some assistance in their own diocese.

Froghole
Froghole
4 months ago

Surely the point of this appointment is that Andy John needs (or perceives that he needs) to concentrate on being archbishop of Wales, and that David Morris (whose existing appointment is as diocesan director of ministry) will do much/most of the spadework in Bangor. Archbishop John will presumably have to spend much of his time at the RB in Callaghan Square and on the frankly arduous commute between Bangor and Cardiff (would it not be better for the primacy of the CiW to be annexed to Llandaff, or for the RB to be moved to somewhere more central?). What I… Read more »

Realist
Realist
Reply to  Froghole
4 months ago

Perceptive comments, as always, Froghole. I’ve commented above about some aspects of the Diocesan culture, but there is a similarly ‘interesting’ link between the life, structure and approach to staffing the Cathedral and that taken to staffing the Diocesan Office. There’s one particularly ‘interesting’ commonality, with a propensity towards the extremes of ecclesiastical dress up that baffles even the most confirmed traditionalist Anglo-Catholic priests of my acquaintance, along with several Roman prelates I know! You mention the Harries report, which also interests me greatly, given how many of its recommendations, together with those of Bob Jackson, based on his consultancy… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Froghole
4 months ago

My recollection is that the Governing Body of the CinW rejected a proposal made during the previous archbishopric to annex the it permanently to Llandaff, together with a permenent assistant bishop in that diocese. The other dioceses have not been willing to cede that to Llandaff.

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
4 months ago

Responding to the particular contributions of Peter Misiaszek, Tim Chesterton and Froghole as well as generally. I know little of this Province and its administration but see many similarities with the Church of/in/for England. A proliferation of top, middle and general ‘management’ and a serious reduction in clergy at the declining ‘workface’. Does Wales have no ‘body’ like the CofE’s Dioceses Commission with a role in considering (and shaping) the number and disposition of bishops to best serve the needs of the nation?

Sam Jones
Sam Jones
4 months ago

In 2016 (the last year for which I can find statistics) Church in Wales attendance was c.30,000, which was smaller than some large English dioceses at that time (e.g. London or Oxford). I suspect the number now is quite a bit lower. 7 bishops seems excessive.

Tom Kitten
Tom Kitten
Reply to  Sam Jones
4 months ago

Welsh readers of this website with very long memories may remember the Free Wales Army. One got the impression that all the members of this ”army” were generals or other senior officers. One even had a white horse to ride upon. Where is the Free Wales Army today?

Peter Misiaszek
Peter Misiaszek
Reply to  Sam Jones
4 months ago

The Roman Catholics, with roughly the same number of adherents, have, for some time, been able to cope with 3 diocese’. Even now they are not thinking of expanding their ecclesial ranks, but reducing them to 2. Which begs the question, other than historical reasons, why else would the CiW impose on themselves a top heavy bureaucratic struggle that trebles so many roles, committees, operations, policies and functions?

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
4 months ago

Giving the New Assistant Bishop of Bangor the Title of Bishop of Bardsey is very similar to giving Roman Catholic Auxilliary Bishops a Titular Title. There is an Ancient piece of Church Canon Law that you cannot have a Bishop without a See, hence the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox practice of giving their Auxilliary Bishops a Titular title. It is normally a redundant Diocese that was in operation in the early Church to remind the Church of its links with the early Church. A friend of mine Bishop Raphael, a Greek Orthordox Bishop, when he became Assistant Bishop in… Read more »

Matthew Chinery
Matthew Chinery
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
4 months ago

Thank you for this, Jonathan. Yes, this recent change in practice in the Church in Wales is a restoration of the historic position (still practised by the Catholic Church, the Church of England and [I believe] the Orthodox churches) that one cannot simply consecrate a Bishop, one must consecrate them to a See (whether or not that See has a jurisdiction attached). It was accordingly agreed by the CinW Governing Body in 2023 that the Bench of Bishops may assign an Assistant Bishop a titular See. There is post-disestablishment precedent for this – the first Assistant Bishop appointed after 1920… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
4 months ago

One of the more unusual examples was the late and well-known American Archbishop Fulton Sheen (1895-1979), who was successively an Auxiliary Bishop in the Catholic Diocese of New York, Bishop of Rochester NY, from which he resigned, and appointed the Archbishop of the titular see of Newport, Wales. I wonder whether he ever visited Newport.

His memory is very much still kept alive by the US Catholic channel EWTN with a weekly broadcast on Sunday evenings of his television lecture series from the 1950s onwards: ‘Life is worth living’.

David Wilbourne
David Wilbourne
4 months ago

When the Archbishop of Wales rang from Alexandria (!) in February 2009 and invited me to become the Assistant Bishop of Llandaff, he explained that there was a proposal to make Llandaff the permanent archiepiscopal see. Were it to be approved, I would be like the Bishop of Dover covering for the Archbishop of Canterbury. Since disestablishment in 1920, any of the six Welsh diocesans could be elected as Archbishop with their diocese thereby becoming the archiepiscopal see. But a century on, with the Church-in-Wales’ HQ based in Cardiff – also the seat of devolved government where the bulk of… Read more »

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