Page last updated at 18:11 GMT, Wednesday, 14 April 2010 19:11 UK

Church 'must tackle social issues' says archbishop

Archbishop of Wales Barry Morgan
The Archbishop of Wales was giving the President's Address

The Church in Wales must grapple with society's key issues if it is to continue to serve every community, says the Archbishop of Wales.

Dr Barry Morgan said the Church needed to tackle poverty, depression, addiction and low aspiration.

He spoke as the Church gathered in Lampeter, Ceredigion, to celebrate 90 years since its dis-establishment.

"We have the chance to show that there are alternative ways of tackling these problems," said Dr Morgan.

In his President's Address to the governing body of the Church in Wales, Dr Morgan outlined the challenges facing the Church as it approached its centenary.

"In in the words of the folk singer Dafydd Iwan, 'Rydym yma o hyd' - 'We are still here'."
Dr Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales

"Our challenges are the challenges that Wales faces - poverty, depression, addiction, loneliness, lack of aspiration, lack of self-esteem," he said.

"We have the chance to show that there are alternative ways of tackling these problems - ways that are truly effective, rather than short-term patches of pills and paperwork and packages of insufficient grants.

"We have a Gospel to proclaim and we have a vision to which Wales can aspire - one that is self-aware, self-confident and grounded in faith."

Dr Morgan added that the story of the Church's dis-establishment, while deeply unpopular among members in 1920, should give it hope for the future.

"Over the years the Church in Wales acquired a new sense of national standing," he said.

"In in the words of the folk singer Dafydd Iwan, 'Rydym yma o hyd' - 'We are still here'."

'Last professional left'

The Archbishop called on the Church to look beyond its own immediate concerns and to seize opportunities to make a difference for the future.

He said clergy - "often the last professional person left in some communities " - could have greater engagement in public life.

The Church, too, he said, must accept all people unconditionally as "endless wrangling over the place of, for example, women or gay people, inevitably affects our mission".

Church buildings, he said, could be used to greater advantage for the whole community.

And there was a need to resolve long-standing internal issues, such as the ordination of women bishops.

He said: "They are minor questions in comparison to the larger questions our church and nation faces. We should not allow them to absorb a lot of introspective energy for years to come."

After the Archbishop's address, members went into groups to reflect on the Church's role over the years.



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