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Archbishop of Wales John Davies to retire as Primate and Bishop of Swansea and Brecon

Posted on: January 18, 2021 6:35 PM
Archbishop John Davies
Photo Credit: Church in Wales

The Archbishop of Wales, John Davies, is to retire in May after four years as leader of the Church in Wales. Archbishop John has served as Bishop of Swansea and Brecon for the past 13 years; and four years ago he was elected Archbishop of Wales and Primate of the Church in Wales following the retirement of Archbishop Barry Morgan. Approaching his 68th birthday, Archbishop John will retire from both roles on 2 May.

In his four years as Primate, Archbishop John Davies led the Church in Wales as it reached its centenary last year and as it faced one of its toughest challenges in responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Leadership is both a privilege and a challenge”, Archbishop John said. “During my time as both bishop and archbishop I have tried to exercise the first and face the second with vision, courage and patience, always hoping to make the Church better equipped, better understood, less mysterious and more welcoming. In the current exceptionally trying circumstances, I have been immensely impressed with the compassion, imagination and innovation with which so many have responded, succeeding in making the Church more accessible and, dare I say, relevant.

“At all stages of my ministry, I have been fortunate to have the support of many valued lay and ordained colleagues, from both within and outside the Church, and a wonderfully loving and understanding family. I thank all of them for that support, without which, the task would have been all but impossible.”

Archbishop John has been profoundly interested in matters of social justice, speaking out on a range of issues, including homelessness and housing, rural problems, assisted dying, organ donation and poverty. He has been chair of Housing Justice Cymru since it was launched in 2016, and has served as a trustee of Christian Aid, chairing its Wales National Committee for almost nine years from 2010.

At the same time, he has focused on the need for the Church in Wales to refresh its vision, its image and purpose, to embrace change and, through doing so, to aim for growth. He has urged members to be more ambitious and courageous in evangelism and he oversaw the launch of a major £10 million GBP Evangelism Fund for projects aimed at achieving better engagement with and fuller understanding of Christian life and the Christian Gospel.

At the Primates’ Meeting in Jordan in January 2020, Archbishop John was elected to serve on the Anglican Communion’s Standing Committee, as the European regional representative Primate.

Leading the tributes to Archbishop John, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “I have very much enjoyed working with John during his time as Archbishop of Wales. I have greatly valued his wisdom, his passion for the Gospel and evangelism, and his skill and diplomacy in dealing with often complex situations. He has been a valued colleague not only as a fellow Primate in the United Kingdom and Ireland but also in the wider Anglican Communion.

“The Coronavirus pandemic meant that I was not able to visit last April for the anniversary of the disestablishment of the Church in Wales, but I very much hope that it will be possible to come to Wales before John retires to thank him in person for his support and wise counsel.

“I wish John and his wife Jo well as they move into retirement and pray that they will continue to thrive. I know how much the Church in Wales and the wider Communion will miss him.”

The Bishop of Bangor, Andrew John, is the Church in Wales’ senior bishop and, following Archbishop Johns retirement, will lead the Church until the election of a new Archbishop later in the year. Bishop Andrew praised Archbishop John’s leadership, saying that he “has been steadfast and resolute in these most difficult of times, bringing much needed stability and offering a reassuring voice, both to those in the Church and to those in the wider community.”

Bishop Andrew added: “On behalf of his fellow bishops, I thank him for the oversight he has given us and send him our very best wishes for a long and happy retirement.”

The Church in Wales’ Provincial Secretary, Chief Executive Simon Lloyd, said: “Archbishop John has brought his extensive experience, encyclopaedic knowledge, sense of humour and deep love for the Church to his role. He has been a persuasive advocate for change and led the Church into identifying and resourcing many new opportunities. I wish him and his wife Jo a long and happy retirement.”

Before he retires, Archbishop John will chair a meeting of the Church in Wales’ Governing Body, its synod, during an online meeting in April.