Common Roots: Ancient Evangelical Future Conference

Barry Morgan of Wales to step down

The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, will retire next year after nearly 14 years at the helm of the Church in Wales and 24 years as a bishop.

Dr Morgan, who is the longest serving archbishop in the worldwide Anglican Communion and also one of the longest serving bishops, will retire on his 70th birthday at the end of January. He will also retire as Bishop of Llandaff after more than 17 years service, having previously been Bishop of Bangor for nearly seven years.  He will continue his work and engagements in both roles as normal until then.

Paying tribute to his ministry, the Archbishop of Canterbury described Dr Morgan as an “extraordinary servant” who would be “deeply missed” while the First Minister of Wales praised his “vast contribution” to Welsh life. Wales’ senior bishop, the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, praised his “courageous leadership” of the Church in Wales.

Announcing his retirement, Dr Morgan, who sadly lost his wife, Hilary, to cancer early this year, said, “It has been an enormous privilege to serve as Archbishop of Wales and Bishop of Llandaff and to do so during such a momentous era in Welsh life. It’s been a rollercoaster ride but all along I have been sustained and inspired by the people I meet, day in day out, who live out God’s love in every part of Wales through their commitment and devotion to their churches and communities.

“I would like to thank all those who have supported, shared and upheld me in my ministry over the years, particularly since Hilary’s death – the loss of her love, encouragement and friendship has been enormously hard to bear.

“Over the years I have seen Wales grow in self-confidence as a nation and I now have every hope that this will be nurtured and enriched with the continued support of the Church in Wales.”

During his tenure as Archbishop, Dr Morgan has championed many changes in the Church in Wales, including a change in its law to enable women to be ordained as bishops and the implementation of a radical strategy, 2020 Vision, to help the church grow and prosper in the approach to its centenary year.  He has also played a prominent role in public life, campaigning most notably for a fair devolution settlement for the Welsh Government and speaking out on matters of moral concern.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said, “Barry was one of those on the interviewing panel for my appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury, and was notable for the quality and courtesy of the questions he asked. More than that his follow up and every contact since has been gracious, encouraging and full of the presence of Christ. Caroline and I stayed with him and Hilary about two years ago and we realised the depth of their partnership, the contribution she made to his ministry and the deep loss he has felt since her death. Barry has been an extraordinary servant of those places where he has ministered, of the Church in Wales and of the whole Anglican Communion. We will miss him very deeply indeed.”

The First Minister for Wales, Carwyn Jones, said, “I greatly value the vast contribution Dr Barry Morgan has made during the past 14 years as Archbishop of Wales. He has had such a positive impact on the lives of so many people from Wales’ religious communities, and has encouraged the establishment of good community relations across the country.

“It has been an honour to have worked closely with the Archbishop through the work of the Faith Communities Forum, which he has served since its inception.  I am grateful for his advice and wisdom on matters affecting the economic, social and cultural life in Wales and for his unwavering commitment to promote interfaith work across Wales.”

The Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, John Davies, paid tribute to Dr Morgan’s courageous leadership given to both the two dioceses in which he has served as bishop and to the Province of Wales. He said, “Barry is a man of undoubtedly strong views and clear Christian convictions. He has, from a Christian and humanitarian perspective, championed the causes of women’s rights, gender equality and social justice, and has been unafraid to speak out publicly on these and many other issues. His engagement in the public life of Wales is well-known, and he has become a respected and trusted participant in and commentator on a number of matters affecting the public life of the nation.

“As a colleague, Barry has been generous and supportive, chairing meetings with a mixture of hard work underpinned by an enduring and strong sense of fellowship. Despite the inevitable and lasting sense of personal grief he has suffered following his wife Hilary’s death, both I and all my fellow bishops wish Barry well in all that lies ahead, and we thank him for his many years of faithful service to church and people.”

Originally from the small mining village of Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen in the Swansea valley, Dr Morgan was elected as the 12th Archbishop of Wales in 2003, following Dr Rowan Williams on his appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury.

A graduate from the universities of both London and Cambridge, Dr Morgan was ordained as a priest in 1973 and during his ministry served as a university and theological college lecturer and university chaplain, as Rector of Wrexham and Archdeacon of Meirionnydd before being consecrated as Bishop of Bangor in 1993 and Bishop of Llandaff in 1999. He also served on the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches and on the Primates Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion.

Dr Morgan is Pro Chancellor of the University of Wales, a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales and of several Welsh universities. He loves the poetry of Welsh cleric RS Thomas and has written a book about it.

As Archbishop, Dr Morgan is President of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales and its members will be bidding their farewells to him at the next meeting, which will be his last, on September 14-15 at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David in Lampeter.

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