New Vicar of St John's Cardiff Photo: Church in Wales
From the Church in Wales web site comes the announcement that a high profile woman priest has been imported to become the new Vicar of the formerly prestigious but now decaying parish of St John the Baptist in the centre of Cardiff where the Millennium Stadium is the main attraction. No doubt the Archbishop will be hoping that she has better staying power than the previous woman vicar of St John's who, according to local sources, decided that she had been sold a pup, as, it is rumored, was Dean Janet Henderson. So is there an implied promise of higher office to come?
Looking at the Vicar's impressive CV, the movers of the Jackson/Wigley amendment which removed from the Bishop's Bill the statutory provision for those unconvinced that the ordination of women is theologically sound have good reason to worry about their own chances of either of them being the first woman bishop in the Church of Wales despite having found favour with their leader after, reportedly, doing his bidding.
But did Dr Morgan know that the new Vicar comes with excess baggage which offers a ray of hope to people who thought that consideration for the beliefs of others had ceased to be a part of Anglicanism?
Taken from the conclusion of the Revd Canon Dr Sarah Rowland Jones' doctoral thesis “Doing God in Public”:
relationship, improving the context of our mutual encounters, which also enhances the
capacity for communication. Trust also invites others to come closer to our
community, increasing their exposure to our own practices. Trust is particularly vital
in those encounters where there is least potential for substantive encounter, since trust
is a fundamental element of Aquinas' primary precepts of natural law. More than this,
where others are able to meet us believing trust is present, the implication they can
draw is that we have their 'good' at heart – and thus trust helps open the door more
widely to exchanges about how we might come more fully to understand what
comprises such 'good'.
Wherever possible we can and should at least attempt to establish where the
potential exists for substantive common ground that rests on foundations to which we
give allegiance, and then attempt to build upon it. Engaging with optimistic
generosity does not guarantee that we will always be met in kind, nor that all
difficulties in substantive communication will be overcome and others will readily
admit to the superiority of our views. However, to fail to engage is to be complicit in
the persistence and deterioration of the status quo, with all its injustices and failings.
To engage is always to insist on, and always to promote, the potential for greater
human flourishing according to humanity's ultimate telos found in the God by whom
and in whose image we are created. This is the Anglican way." (My emphasis - Ed)
After the Archbishop won the day at the Church in Wales' Governing Body Dr Morgan said: "I hope it will be possible that no-one will be lost. It's a matter now for discussion. I promise on behalf of the bench of bishops that we will talk to a range of people across the Church. We'll come back in April to hear what people have to say but in the end the bishops will have to draw up the code of practice."
We must hope that Dr Rowland Jones' conclusions will not be discarded as excess baggage but taken on board by the bishops of the Church in Wales and, indeed, of the Church of England as a timely reminder of the traditional, broad Church, 'Anglican way'. No-one need be lost if there is genuine love and understanding.