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The Decline and Fall of the Church in Wales

The Decline and Fall of the Church in Wales

By David W. Virtue, DD
Sept. 5, 2019

In Sept. 2017, VOL reported that more than 10 Anglican churches a year are closing in Wales. The Church in Wales has shut 115 churches in a decade, about eight per cent of the total, leaving more than 1,300 still in use according to figures published by the BBC.

There were 11 redundant churches advertised on the church's website in that year. The former St Mary's Church in Bangor, advertised at £150,000, is sold subject to contract. The former St Andrew's in Colwyn Bay is for sale at £325,000. In 2019, that figure has now dropped to six.

In Sept. 2014, I headlined a story, "The Washed-Up World of the Anglican Church of Wales." In it I quoted the Anglican Archbishop of Wales, the Most Rev. Dr. Barry Morgan, as saying that he would resist the founding of another province with every fiber of his body. He was, of course, alluding to the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). He made this statement at the 2009 Virginia Annual Council.

According to 2013 statistics, the Anglican Church in Wales showed Average Sunday Attendance (over 18) of just a little over 31,000 and under 18 of just a few over 6,000. That's a drop of some 1,728 persons (over and under age 18) from 2012. Photos reveal most of the grey heads to be well over 60. So, the future of the church is heading over the cliffs of St. Dogmaels unless the church can entice Millennials in.

In May of 2019, an attempt to bar traditionalists from ordination in the Church in Wales was heavily defeated at a meeting of the Church's Governing Body in Cardiff.

The private member's motion called on the Bishops to refuse to ordain any candidate who objected to the ministry of women priests and bishops. This would involve retracting conscience provisions created in a Code of Practice in 2014 when the Church authorized the consecration of women bishops in the first place. Members voted overwhelmingly to reject the motion, perhaps seeing it as a sort of kamikaze suicide mission. If liberals can't persuade Welsh unbelievers from darkening their doors, then make sure no conservatives be allowed to try either!

And now figures from the membership and Finance Report 2018 to be presented at the September (2019) meeting of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales show continued decline in all measures bar one.

According to AncientBriton blogger, confirmations were up 30% despite the unilateral decision of the bench of bishops to scrap confirmation as a prerequisite to Holy Communion. Some dodgy legal advice lead to a Eucharistic free for all. There was a 36% fall in confirmations 2017 - 2016.

The 25% increase in weekdays only attendance between 2017 - 2016 fell back 19% between 2018 - 2017.

Perhaps more surprisingly the reported Sunday attendance increased between 2017 and 2018 in a number of important fields: under 7s; 7 to 10s; 11 to 17s; and families. The average attendance of under 18's was down 1%; down 7% between 2017 and 2016.

The Report also shows a worrying decline in total giving across a range of categories despite an increase in average giving per attender.

Archbishop George Carey's six-year-old prediction that "the Church of England was one generation away from extinction" unless more was done to attract young people into the Church was aired again in Norwich Cathedral where a helter skelter was thought to be the answer.

In Llandaff it is gay pride.

The predicted outlook for the Church in Wales is even more gloomy than for the Church of England with 'massive church closures from around 2025 onwards' leading to extinction around 2040.

The ordination of women was supposed to reinvigorate the Church. It has had the opposite effect importing a brand of liberalism summed up by Piers Morgan in an interview 'Liberals have become utterly, pathetically illiberal'.

One cleric has had the guts to put down a question (Q.2) at GB about the declining moral standards of the Church in Wales. Perhaps he will inspire others to reclaim the Church in Wales from the bishops before they destroy her.

Well, this body will need new members because the Church might not be around for very much longer at the present rate of decline.


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