Pushing the Boundaries: Social Responsibility Network Conference.
Angel Hotel Cardiff. 6 – 8 October 2014.
See also the Church in Wales write up …
(with links to individual sessions below)
Cracks in time and space were notable by their absence during the SR Network’s Annual Conference held in Cardiff (perhaps because the Doctor Who exhibition was closed for a few weeks). However the assembled members welcomed the time spent together and the space to reflect on their work and its significance in a relaxing and supportive environment. Revd Carol Wardman, Bishops’ Adviser for Church and Society in the Church in Wales, welcomed delegates to the Angel Hotel, informing us that Wales is the first Fair Trade Province!
We were delighted that three Bishops found time to be with us during the conference. The opening keynote address by Rt Revd John Davies, Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, set the tone for the conference in focusing on social action as key to our calling as Christians. Most Revd Dr Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales, joined us for a pre-dinner reception on our first evening in Cardiff and reminded us that the Church has three key strands – deepening the discipleship of those within its community, sharing and being good news to those on the fringes, and engaging with the wider local community in sharing God’s love in practical ways. Or put more simply – we exist to worship God and love other people! On Tuesday evening Rt Revd David Wilbourne, Assistant Bishop of Llandaff and another member of the ex-pat Yorkshire community in Wales, introduced us to ‘O crucified Redeemer’ a hymn by Timothy Rees, with its last line speaking of ‘love comes in to reign.’
Tuesday saw the assembled company sharing the Eucharist at the Church of St John the Baptist in the city centre. We were welcomed by Rev’d Canon Dr Sarah Rowland Jones who presided and preached. The wonderful Welsh singing included (for the benefit of visitors to Wales) Guide me O thou great Redeemer. Sarah’s sermon included a challenge to sit loose to our ‘work’ identity, with St Paul from Sunday’s reading from Philippians ‘counting all things as loss’ compared to knowing Christ, and learning from Mary and Martha about the need to see God’s presence in all our work and to be re-enchanted with Jesus. The service was followed by coffee at Te@Spot at the church, then presentations and discussion on moving from sanctuary to citizenship. In the afternoon , a short walk in the park took us to the water bus stop for a river trip to Cardiff Bay, a visit to the Senedd (impressive both as a building and as an Assembly) and cruise round the Bay before returning to the hotel.
Apart from the splendid water bus, buses featured in a number of presentations during our time in Wales. Richard Kirlew ended his presentation on rural perspectives, ‘Mostly sheep and hills?’ with a poem about the bus driver who would love to be part of the church community but doesn’t feel he speaks the right language or would fit in properly. We heard at St John’s Church that there was concern that visitors did not know that local buses didn’t give change and could be embarrassed if they only had bank notes to pay their fare – this was seen as unfair and unwelcoming. And Mark Clavier told us about a bus journey to the Durham Gala with his parishioners, which transformed relationships between the church and community. Perhaps we should all take more notice of buses!
The formal sessions and presentations gave us much food for thought and encouragement in our work. Stories about ways in which churches and dioceses were pushing the boundaries were inspirational. Opportunities to talk informally over meals and during breaks strengthened relationships and began new friendships.
Links to individual sessions:
Monday October 6
Keynote speaker: Rt Revd John Davies, Bishop of Swansea and Brecon
Disability and theology: Revd Dr John Gillibrand, Vicar of Llangeler with Pen-boyr (Diocese of St Davids)
Cartref: A Good Home in Wales: Sharon Lee (Faith in Affordable Housing); Alex Glanville (Head of Property Services, Church in Wales)
Mostly Hills and Sheep? – the Rural View: Revd Richard Kirlew, National Lead Rural Life Adviser, Church in Wales
Tuesday October 7
Eucharist at St John’s, Cardiff City Centre
Seeking Sanctuary in Wales: Constance Nzeneu, Women Seeking Sanctuary Action Group
Citizen Organising: Jonathan Cox, Cardiff Citizens
From Sanctuary to Citizenship:panel discussion withJonathan Cox, Constance Nzeneuand Revd Dr Sarah Rowland-Jones
Visit to the National Assembly at the Senedd, led by Geraint Hopkins of Cytun
Pre-dinner reception with Rt Revd David Wilbourne, Assistant Bishop of Llandaff
Weds October 8
Gathering Impressions: plenary reflection (led by Revd Carol Wardman, Bishops’ Adviser for Church and Society)
Good Sheep for Straying Shepherds – Reflections of a Yank on the Church and Local Communities: Revd Dr Mark Clavier, Acting Principal of St Michael’s College