More than 500 people, representing churches from across South Wales, packed into Llandaff Cathedral yesterday for an emotional farewell service to mark the retirement of the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan.
It was Dr Morgan’s final service before he retires on Tuesday, after nearly 14 years as Archbishop and 17 years as Bishop of Landaff. During the service he was thanked warmly for all his ministry and given a standing ovation from the whole congregation.
The Diocese of Llandaff service was a celebration and a thanksgiving for the contribution made by Dr Morgan during his years at the helm. In his sermon, the Archbishop said it had been an “enormous privilege” to have served them and he thanked people for their warm welcome and support.
Representatives from every parish and from different areas of the Church’s life and from significant projects in which the Archbishop had been involved attended. There were also ecumenical and faith leaders, retired clergy, those that hold a Bishop’s licence such as school and hospital chaplains and representatives from church schools.
The service began with a procession of around 150 people, including clergy, bishops, canons, lay readers and ecumenical guests. Hymns sung were selected by Dr Morgan and included: O Worship The Lord In The Beauty Of Holiness; Tyrd Atom Ni O Greuwr Pob Goleuni; God Is Love, Let Heaven Adore Him; O Thou Who Camest From Above; Great God, Your Love Has Called Us Here and Lord As We Rise To Leave The Shell Of Worship.
In his sermon the Archbishop said his 17 years as Bishop of Llandaff had been very happy ones and he had never regretted his decision to come. He said, “You, as a diocese, welcomed us with great warmth. There were those tremendous services when all the children and youth of the diocese came into this cathedral to welcome me; there was and is the great openness when I visit parishes and deaneries and especially if Hilary happened to be with me; there is the joy of realising that without the input of churches, fewer food banks would exist, less help would be given to the homeless, the poor and asylum seekers. Church people are at the forefront of most voluntary organisations and enable them to exist.
“I felt and feel embraced and supported by the clergy and there was and is a willingness to try new things and to think about doing things differently and a preparedness by parishes to work with diocesan officers in setting up ministry areas.
“For all of that, I give thanks. It has been an enormous privilege trying to serve you.”
Dr Morgan reminded the diocese that the Church’s first priority was God. He said, “It is so easy to forget that. All of us as individuals and churches can be so busy about the things of God, that a relationship with God Himself can be edged out.
“The church exists to offer God the worship which the world has forgotten how to express”, wrote someone. In the end, the Church is not a welfare agency, although it is involved in the welfare of people. It is not a self-preservation society, although it has buildings to preserve. It is not a club for people who cannot cope with life without a bit of religion, although we need to reach out to people on the edges of life. We are the Church of God because we belong to Him and we exist because of Him and our task is to worship and relate to Him or more correctly respond to His outreach towards us.”
He added that God leads us to new stages in our lives, “The Gospel is about change or rather it is about individuals being changed into the image of Jesus and the Church being changed into the instrument that serves His kingdom.
At the end of the service, Paul Marshall, chairman of the Llandaff Diocesan Board of Finance, paid tribute to Dr Morgan and presented him with a gift on behalf of the diocese.
He said, “The mark of any great human being is that they have both achieved an office and made a difference. You have more than achieved that and you will always be remembered in the Province and in Llandaff with great affection as someone who truly did that.”
The Dean of Llandaff, Gerwyn Capon, thanked the Archbishop on behalf of the clergy. He said, “In each generation of the Church’s life, someone is raised up from among us to serve God’s people and in you, Barry, we have had such a person….the intense level of your commitment to fulfil the charge laid on you when you were consecrated has marked you out as a Welsh bishop of remarkable charisma, courage, wisdom, vision and most of all, humanity.”
Dr Morgan previously served as Bishop of Bangor for seven years. He is the longest serving archbishop in the worldwide Anglican Communion and also one of the longest serving bishops.
Archbishop’s full address Llandaff-Cathedral-Final-service-290117 (1)
Photos by Huw Riden