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Monday, June 28, 1999 Published at 19:23 GMT 20:23 UK


Farewell to Welsh Anglican leader

The Archbishop of Wales, Most Rev Alwyn Rice Jones, at the Assembly opening service

Members of the Anglican Church in Wales are holding a special service to say farewell to their archbishop, who is retiring after overseeing a period of major changes.

The Archbishop of Wales, the Most Rev Alwyn Rice Jones, has held the top post in the Welsh Anglican church for eight years, during which time the church has reformed its rules in order to ordain women priests and to allow divorcees to remarry.

He retires on Wednesday 30 June, and on Tuesday night, a special farewell service is being held at St Asaph Cathedral in North Wales, where he is also the diocesan bishop.

[ image: Archbishop oversaw changes]
Archbishop oversaw changes
The archbishop, a Welsh speaker, supported the devolution campaign during the 1997 referendum on whether Wales should get its own National Assembly.

On 26 May this year, he took part in the special service at Llandaff cathedral in Cardiff to mark the opening of the assembly.

He is no stranger to controversy. In July 1998, he warned that people were making too much of the status of the late Princess Diana, and said he would leave it up to individual clergy whether special prayers were said for her on the anniversary of her death.

Period of change

In April this year, at a meeting of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales, the Bishop of Monmouth, the Rt Rev Rowan Williams, said the archbishop had presided over a period of change.

He said the archbishop had not always taken the easy road, but that the Church has been held together during that period by "the deep personal loyalty and affection given to and received from Alwyn - which reflects the love of God".

Mr Richard Parkinson, speaking on behalf of the lay members of the Governing Body, said he had had a strenuous term of office as bishop and archbishop, but had always been an approachable, humorous, enthusiastic and devoted leader.

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