CHRISTMAS GREETINGS 2020
I know that you will be aware, from the constant flow of e mails, that FCCW is still functioning although we have not met face to face as a Council this year. In my Diary of Events No 9 I said that we were aiming to “convene a meeting in Spring 2021 at which the Rev. Simon Walkling will be installed as president.” Quietly I was hoping that that would be in early Spring but now I am crossing my fingers that we can convene a “normal” meeting in May which will mean that the inauguration will take place exactly a year late.
Despite the lack of Council meetings the voice of FCCW has not been switched off during this strange period that we have been suffering since last spring. A number of virtual meetings have taken place and I have attended meetings of the Welsh Government’s Faith Communities Forum and the Cross-Party Group on Faith as well as meetings under the auspices of CTBI for the leaders of the Christian bodies of the four countries. I asked the President designate to represent us on the Task and Finish Group relating to the arrangements for places of worship during the period as he was at the front line on this issue compared with me, and there have been a number of meetings. I asked Noel Davies to represent us at a meeting organised by CTBI for the four countries to discuss Brexit issues. We were represented in two Services (VJ Day Service and National Remembrance Sunday Service) by Helen, our secretary, and you possibly saw her on television on both occasions reading graciously in both languages. Education issues have been evident over the months with consultations taking place and I am extremely grateful to Vaughan Salisbury for his diligent work with this and with all his contact with the Free Churches Group Education Committee.
That is the situation at the moment and it is a privilege and an honour to represent FCCW and keep the stances of the free churches alive and well, and hopefully influential, in as dreary a period as we are experiencing during this year. Nevertheless we have faith that we will survive victoriously, through the grace of God, although the “new normal” will not necessarily be similar to our past practices. These have been challenging times for our churches and they have generally responded very positively and developed different and varied ways of communicating not only with their members but with wider society. What has manifested itself is that the faith is not alive in buildings but in those churches which can be flexible and alert to the needs of their community. One thing that has become very clear to me in recent months is that the religious attitude is very similar in all religions and that the basic principles of worship and of loving a fellow man are at the core of all religions. That should be a good stimulus for us for the future as we celebrate the birth of our Saviour this Christmas. I wish everyone a very blessed Christmas.
Rheinallt A Thomas
Free Church Council of Wales