News & Items of Interest
All the latest news from around the diocese.
Let us know about events you've organised.
If you have some pictures, let us know and we can share them with everyone.
A Day at the Royal Welsh
The Royal Welsh Show is one of the premier Agricultural Shows attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors from Britain and abroad. It is a privilege to be able to volunteer as an Agricultural Chaplain, to be a tiny part of the huge team that ensures the smooth running of the event each year. Hundreds of people, young and old, give their services for free, stewarding, manning the gates and fulfilling any number of diverse tasks. To witness all the good will, reinforces one's faith in human nature!
This year I was asked to be chaplain amongst the cattle exhibitors, to be a presence in the cattle sheds, wearing our RWAS (Royal Welsh Agricultural Society) jackets and clerical collars, and simply talking to who ever wants a chat. The cattle sheds, as well as being hives of activity – cleaning, feeding, watering and preparing the animals, are also places to socialise and even relax. Wandering down the cattle lines would normally be a perilous occupation, but these show cattle are “professionals” - no kicking, only the danger of being assailed by softer, more smelly projectiles.
This year we were asked (by The Church in Wales) to sound farmers out on their response to “Brexit.” I was slightly uncertain about doing this, fearing that farmers, - faced by a stranger wearing a rather officious costume, asking questions about their possible financial futures – might simply clam up, or give only PC answers. “Farmers can't survive without EU / state financial subsidies.” However, I was surprised and pleased by the willingness of all, to not only talk and discuss, but to be completely candid in their answers.
My greatest surprise (because it goes against everything we read in the media) was that well over 80% of farmers were strongly in favour of “Brexit!”
“We need to wean ourselves off our dependency on subsidies, and decide on our own policies.”
Admittedly, most of these were not farmers from the “Less favoured,” mountainous areas of North Wales, (although one farmer was from Orkney!) but their independent, self reliant response was still startling. Only two farmers argued passionately for staying in Europe; one arguing very compellingly that the failure to support farming would result in rural poverty and depopulation, with a resultant loss of Welsh culture and rural community life. The UK and Welsh governments will not be so willing to plough money into agriculture. The other believed that we should stay in the EU as a matter of principle, working constructively with our neighbours, talking as colleagues around the table.
It is always good / healthy to listen to a diversity of opinions, and have our own prejudices challenged, whether in religion, politics or social attitudes. My overall impression was of a farming community, stoical, mature and realistic in its outlook, something I could not help but admire.
Aftrenoon Tea 14th July 2016
Afternoon Tea at Trefeddian Hotel Aberdyfi organised by the Pastoral Team
Muriel would like to thank everyone for the cards, gifts, flowers and telephone calls she received after her recent operation. She would also like to thank those who visited her at home. It was very much appreciated. Diolch yn fawr.
Croeso y Cymru
Over the years millions of visitors must have seen the signs at the Severn Bridge: ‘Croeso y Cymru’ It takes a bit of the sting out of having to pay to get in, but at least it costs nothing to get out! For anyone it is always a joyful sight as you make your way back.
When the journey was made back in the early sixties, there was no Severn Bridge. Entry into Wales from southern England involved a detour via Monmouth and the A40. In fact, the journey took so long that you needed to stop half-way overnight.
The Bridge changed everything. It was opened by the Queen fifty years ago, on September 8th 1966. So popular was this new fast route to the delights of the Gower, the Brecon Beacons and the beaches of Pembrokeshire that a second bridge was built to meet the demand, and the Queen returned to open it twenty years ago.
There’s still ‘a welcome in the hillsides’, but those two magnificent bridges have made it much easier to respond to it!
The Battle of the Somme
On the 1st July 2016 we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme and remember those who fought and died during the battle. The Somme was one of the deadliest battles of the First World War. During five months of combat, the total number of men killed, wounded and missing reached over one million.
A century later the battle scars still remain. It’s still difficult to make sense of what happened and see God’s place in the conflict. It challenges any image of a safe, problem-solving God who protects at all costs from pain and suffering. As Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane demonstrates, God is to be found alongside in the pain: ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’ (Luke 22:42).
Geoffrey Studdert-Kennedy, the chaplain popularly known as ‘Woodbine Willie’, served at the Somme said: ‘We have taught our people to use prayer too much as a means of comfort: the comfort of the cushion, not the comfort of the Cross.’
He is saying that prayer in itself won’t save us from suffering, as it didn’t save Christ from the cross. But it is does enable us to fight evil in a way that will transform the situation, like Jesus going to the cross.
On Sunday 26th June we came together at St Peter’s Church with the British Legion and the RWF Veterans Association for a Service of Remembrance to mark the centenary of this dark time in our history.
St. Mary Magdalene – the woman with a past.
Later this month Christians all over the world will commemorate probably the most unlikely saint in the Bible, Mary Magdalene. There was something in her background that has always fascinated people. All we are told about her ‘past’ is that Jesus had cast ‘seven devils’ out of her, but on that slender if intriguing evidence she has become the patron saint of ‘fallen women’.
Some see her as the woman ‘who was a sinner’ who washed Christ’s feet with her tears at a respectable dinner party. Of that person Jesus remarked that ‘she had been forgiven much’ and consequently ‘loved much’. Whether she was that woman or not, the description perfectly fits her. No one who has heard or read it could surely fail to be moved by her tearful encounter with the risen Jesus in the garden on Easter morning, the man she had taken to be the gardener revealing Himself in one word, Mary, as her beloved Teacher.
The problem with a good story – and hers is as good as it gets – is that people can’t leave it alone. Down the centuries she has been John the Apostle’s fiancée until he left her to follow Christ. She has gone with Jesus’ mother and the same John to live in Ephesus and died there. In art and literature she has become an alluring, sexual figure, disapproved of by the mother of Jesus. There is no historical evidence whatsoever for any of this. In fact, the Gospels suggest the two Marys were close in their shared devotion to Jesus.
Her popularity is shown in the fact that 187 ancient churches in Britain are dedicated to her, and a college at both Oxford and Cambridge. Whatever the details of her story, we cherish it because it shows that having a ‘past’ is no reason not to have a future.