An electoral college of the Church in Wales will meet in the small town of Llandrindod Wells next month to choose the province’s next archbishop and primate. Three lay people and three priests from all six Welsh dioceses will join the six bishops as they pray and vote on a successor to the former Bishop of Llandaff, Barry Morgan, who retired in January.
The electoral college will meet in the Victorian Spa Town’s Holy Trinity Church on 5 September. After a public Holy Communion service, the church will be emptied of everybody who is not a member of the college or their support staff. The church doors will then be locked before the conclave begins with a discussion about the needs of the province.
After a period of prayer and reflection, the president of the college – senior bishop John Davies of Swansea and Brecon – will invite nominations. The bishops nominated for the post will then withdraw while discussion takes place, returning when members of the college cast their vote. A nominee with two-thirds of the votes of the college will become the province’s next archbishop. If no nominee receives the required number of votes, the process is repeated.
The conclave meets for up to three days. If, at the end of the process, the college has failed to elect a new archbishop, the task of appointment falls to the bench of bishops.
The Church in Wales’ conclave does not involve a chimney or white smoke: the election of a new archbishop and primate will be announced when the church doors are opened wide and the announcement made. The normal practice is for the bishop to confirm his or her election as archbishop immediately.
One of the new archbishop’s first tasks will be to provide of the biannual meeting of the Church in Wales’ Governing Body, its Synod, which is next due to meet in mid-September. They will also be expected to attend the next meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion in October.
A service of enthronement usually follows the election of a new archbishop. This takes place in their home cathedral and could be several weeks or months after the election; but the new archbishop will take on the role immediately upon the election.
Under the Church in Wales’ procedures, the archbishop and primate is elected from one of the six diocesan bishops: Gregory Cameron of St Asaph, John Davies of Swansea & Brecon, Andy John of Bangor, June Osborne of Llandaff, Richard Pain of Monmouth, and Joanna Penberthy of St Davids. The new archbishop will carry out their new role alongside their existing duties as bishop of their diocese.