Saturday, October 22, 2005


The technological revolution that never happened
Twenty years ago we were promised that the future would bring us a ‘paperless office’. Not so, we are using more paper than ever before, and not even the smug virtue of regular re-cycling practice can conceal the added expenditure of energy in production. Computers can be useful tools, although they absorb huge amounts of time, as well as having a huge energy footprint, in the making. I confess to my great shame, they are still my favourite toy, as well as work-tool – and I don’t even use them to play games! Just grappling how they work, diagnosing and solving problems when they go wrong is an intriguing but often useless diversion. I’m self-taught. As a result I don’t always find it easy to explain to my wife how to get the thing to perform the way she wishes. My approach is internalised, intuitive, and the way I use words in an unstructured way to describe highly structured routines would put a strain on the best of marriages. But back to paper.
The diocesan and provincial offices of the Church in
Wales produce a fair amount of official paper each month. Not nearly as bad as a Local Education Authority foists on to school governors. Enough reading material for a full time job, twice over, if you take governance seriously. Well, actually the weight of documentation and the sense of helplessness it generates leaves one taking it all less than seriously. It’s become a joke. A resource consuming, environmentally compromising joke. Resources are consumed on running teachers rather than on teaching. No, the Church in Wales is not quite so bad. It does publish everything on the Web, and parishes wanting to add publicity flyers to the diocesan mail shot, are now encouraged to print them as pdf files for Web publication, thereby saving paper and postage. Nevertheless, there are some worrying signs.

Bi-lingualism, dogma, politics
We are a bi-lingual church, and our liturgical books are produced in Welsh and English (on opposite pages, there are English only versions in addition, sensibly, since 70% of Welsh people are English only speakers. Some who don’t know or use much Welsh are proud and happy to have bi-lingual service books, but it’s a minority. The Governing Body of the Church in
Wales (its synodical form of Government) and committees and agencies answerable to it, publicise reports in Welsh and English. These are circulated without regard for people’s language preferences. A small document is published with texts back to back. No problem. Longer ones are published separately. xtra paper, extra postage. It is justified? A majority of mailing recipients will automatically discard Welsh documents they didn’t need which have added considerably to production costs. Nobody seems to care that we are in a financial, and environmental crisis.

Today I received six expensively desktop-published double-sided colour posters announcing a meeting in Mid Wales next March with a massive three decker title:

‘On earth as in heaven’
God’s creation and the environment
– Belief to action -

It’s an all day church jamboree on eco-issues. There’s a gratifying rise of interest and commitment within the Church in Wales on these matters, but still a lack of joined up thinking. The posters were not bi-lingual, they were identically produced in English and Welsh – three of each. I can use three English posters – in fact I can use four. I’d put up one in Welsh to exercise the principle, but I didn’t need three in Welsh, but there was no choice. How many Welsh language colour posters will be binned, and at what additional cost in terms of expense and the un-necessary consumption of coloured ink and paper? The message of the poster could easily have been edited below half length and bi-lingualised. Did anyone think? Every government communication here in Wales is issued in Welsh and English as a result of hard won political battles thirty years ago. Now the fruit of that important debate clogs up bins and consumes resources. We have technology that would easily allow people to exercise the choice of whether they wish to receive bi-lingual government mailings or not. Does anyone care?
In the same mail shot was a brief statement in black and white from the World Mission Committee to the effect that to save resources they would not be issuing the bi-lingual St Andrewstide prayer material in print, but that it could be found in pdf files on the Church in
Wales website. Just a whiff of being ‘more ecological than thou’ in the cloisters of power? Professor Hollenweger with whom I studied in Birmingham in the late 1980’s boiled down the essential purpose of Christian mission as being ‘to get people to think’ Nice to know that there are still people around in the church making that happen. I'd love to be one of them.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Something's not quite right here ....

Bureaucratic begging beef
Tiredness catching up on me, as it often does in the autumn, I've gone down quite suddenly with a dose of bronchitis this past two days. So, I've stayed home as much as I could, and rested fitfully. When I'm unable to settle there are always so many administrative tasks to be done that nobody wants to do but must be done. I tend to avoid doing things like this (along with tidying my study) until I've got down time, and nothing to distract me.
The worst of these jobs are applications, either for Faculties (the Church in Wales' equivalent of obtaining planning permission - a 15 page document), or for grants, either from the Lottery Fund or from other charitable bodies interested either in the church's work of mission or at least in preserving its fabric. Every agency written to for an application form sends by return not only its form, but a list of a dozen or more other charities one can apply to. They think they are trying to be helpful, but their message is - don't expect success first time, you've gotta compete for the pile of cash you need. It's the mark of the beast written right across our modern culture, and the institutions of the church oblige themselves to go along with this in order to preserve their past heritage. In doing so, it seems to me, we are forfeiting our future.
All these grant making bodies have different criteria, different kinds of forms to fill in, and information to be supplied. There is no single form that can be completed once and run past all, so the work is multiplied many times over. Competition for grant aid is huge, as churches once raised and supported by public subscription are now rotting away, due to their desertion by the general public.
To be fair, the public are very generous with charitable giving and give away millions whenever there' s major disaster in the world that's marketed by aid agencies to get attention and cash. Better really that money is freely sent to millions of poor unfortunates, rather than squandered on buildings which, however beatuful and inspiring in their day, no longer commend themselves for general moral and spiritual investment. Let's be honest, there are far too many of them, both for the need, and for that kind of expenditure on bricks and mortar not be regarded as obscene. But, the same buildings that are liabilities when in need of repair are also potentially assets if they can be re-commissioned for community service. That's what we've been attempting to do with three of our four churches. The fourth is modern, small and sustainable by its members with relative ease. The three are financial nightmares to run, and I often ask, why am I wearing myself out, performing, in effect, as a licensed beggar on behalf of churches incapable of sustaining all the glorious trophies of their past?
Many clergy like me are desk-bound by bureaucratic demands, simply unable to give adequate time to pastoral work. It's so bad, that the faithful nowadays expect little personal attention from their pastors. Clergy don't know and aren't known by their fellows like they used to be. It surprises me that when we are identified, people are still prepared to place their trust in us, confide in us. Do all those in need of any kind care about those forms and procedures which seem to be the lifeblood of so many in the world of work today?

Tragedy - in absentia

This morning, feeling poorly still, I went into St John's by car instead of bike and offered Eucharist for four 'regulars' (all over 70), in an unusually low and quiet voice for me, because of bronchial inflammation. Nobody seemed to notice, and all departed without greeting me, (familiarity foregoes formality) each going about their business - going up to the tea-room for a cuppa, or to buy their cards (Cards for Good Causes is now open for business), or going to the market opposite. I stopped long enough to apologise to Philip the organist for having to miss the lunchtime organ concert, then headed home and went straight to bed. After a few more hours sleep I felt I was beginning to turn a corner with the infection, and got up and began to potter around the unfinished tasks in my study. Out of habit (I'm news-addicted), I went to the BBC news website, and did something I rarely do, visiting first the Wales news page - I view international news first, then UK and provincial news after.
There on the Wales front page was a picture of St John's church tower, and Church Street below it wrapped in police cordon tape. A murder had taken place just after noon in the Poundstretcher shop not twenty paces from the church porch. I agonised about going down straight away, just to be there, to be ready to listen to anyone who might be there and be affected by this tragedy, not least our city centre constabulary. But my wife insisted there was nothing I could be expected to do after the event - life moves on quickly. It was just sod's law that I wasn't there where I usually hang out when the church tea room's open, 'being available' to meet people in and around the church, on a day when it might have been useful to be there, when there might have been someone needing to be prayed with, or for. Life goes on whether I'm there or not. So why do I feel bad?

Policing lament
The locality was crawling with police apparently. Only when they are very unbusy do the cops feel able to pass the time of day with others concerned, like themselves, for the health, peace and safety of the community.
Sadly nowadays, the Police don't seem keen to be on the receiving end of interest from pastors on the ground. They'd rather employ professional psychologists. Offers of support are politely declined with the alibi of 'having a police chaplain' - somewhere over the rainbow - no doubt.
Two weeks ago there was a national Police Federation gathering in St David's Hall with 2,000 coppers present. The first I heard about it officially was from a Sunday eight o'clock news item about a service being held in St David's Hall to commemorate police personnel killed on duty during the year. Unofficially, Archbishop Barry told me ten days earlier that he'd just received an invitation to attend, which turned out to be an invitation to preach he hadn't expected. Nobody thought to invite a city centre parish priest whose church is across the road from St David's Hall. I'd love to know which religious leaders other than the Archbishop were invited to be 'good community relations' tokens at this gathering. Not because I'd have been enthusiastically given up my Sunday afternoon with the family to attend, but because I'm interested in the 'politik' of the communications exercise accompanying an event on that scale. If there was police chaplaincy involvement, how engaged were chaplains in planning and preparation? Indeed, how rooted are any of our area constabularies among the people they serve these days?
I've heard there's a 'patriotic' move afoot by the Welsh Assembly to integrate all local constabularies into an all Wales Police force. Policing, like Army regiments, moves relentlessly towards mergers which weaken local loyalties, ignore history and cultural difference. Do we need this, really?
A couple of centuries ago the local Law and Order person, the Constable, was elected by the same annual Parish meeting that elected Church Wardens. There was local accountability for policing. It's now become so complex, technical and specialised, that being rooted in a locality, if it happens at all, is a management policy decision made by one section of a large complex hierarchy. It not a way of life. All too often police seem to act like professional strangers - more like soldiery than constabulary, because for politico-economic reasons they are forced to be part of bigger structures, whose scale turns humans to mere cogs in a machine. Policing, I've been told, is becoming more an employment option people make for a few years, rather than a vocation for life - it looks good on the CV, like being in the Army. Do we have to go this route? Is opportunistic commitment to our beneift? Is it inevitable that it continues like this?
If this new value-free cultural climate, affects 'vocational' professions, how will it impact on priesthood? I've already encountered speculations about clergy spending periods of their work lives in full-time paid ministry, then opting to become self-supporting (and vice versa), but in this free job market world, can we expect to see parsons switch from being Vicars to brothel keepers, game-show hosts, or papparazi, rather than the usual social workers, teachers or care assistants? The daftness of the suggestion exposes the daftness of value-free ideology. All 'vocational roles need affirming, celebrating and encouraging as lifelong commitments as paths to fulfiment worth sticking to. But in order to achieve this, there has to be some substantial challenge to the idolatry of the economic market-led world-view which seems to deliver twice the number of curses for every glamorous blessing it bestows. What kind of world do we want? Are we prepared to live self-sacrificially to achieve it? That is the question.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Words and their recipients

The regenerating power of writing
It's a month since I started making an effort to put down my thoughts about work and life in this blog. It's quite an effort to do it every day, and I haven't succeeded, then when the time comes, I churn out, or discharge a huge long narrative, not at finely honed as it might be if I constructed it piece by piece. That apart, it's reminded me of just how much I enjoy having the freedom to work with words, and that it's part of how I earn my living. This has stimulated me to revisit the poetry I've been writing occasionally over the past 42 years, and now I've put some of these into a separate blog (see sidebar). Even crafting a few hundred words each month for The Bell, our Parish Magazine (web published in pdf format on our Parish website), is a source of great pleasure. I've put some sermons on the Parish site as well, at the request of (very) few friends, although editing for wide consumption what was written in the heart of the moment for a particular audience can be demanding. Sometimes I'm too tired, so these may get published, typos and all. I've started to make the effort to publish this last couple of years - yes, because the opportunity is there, but also because iIt's part of my taskas a priest and preacher to get people to look at a picture which is bigger than their own lives and concerns, or those of our church congregation, and to think about the meaning and purpose of existence.

On the receiving end
Perhaps no more than fifty people ever read what I write. If ten were to think about what I said and respond in some way, maybe it would make a small difference somewhere. I rarely get any comment about my articles, any more than I do about the hundred or so sermons I preach every year, but then I don't expect to. The people I serve are thoughtful. Occasionally what I've said does get returned to me in a comment or insight, but for the most part, people keep their thoughts to themselves - there is no culture of discussion and dialogue in their religious tradition, only of listening and reflection. At one time I ran a European discussion forum about Mission by and with expatriate communities. On a fraction of the subscribers to the forum took part. However in face to face meetings, several reassured me that they read all the posts with interest, but without feeling the need to join in. Everybody's different.

Congregations and temperament

There are church communities whose timetables are full of bible studies and discussions. This in itself is no guarantee that they will engage thought to produce appropriate response, and certainly doesn't mean they are superior churches to those where people habitually listen and conduct their own interior dialogue on matters of faith close to their hearts. I've come to the conclusion that congregations tend to be typically either extravert or introvert. This may change over seasons and years, depending on the influence of leadership and key members, but the fruitfulness of either type's engagement with life is not dependent on temperament, but whether people who hear the Word strive to put it into action as best they can.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Crises and Opportunities

Autumn and a birthday celebration
How quickly the week goes by. Afternoon seems to turn very quickly now into evening, yet there's another two weeks before the clocks go back. Days of warm sunshine, days of torrential rain, and the quiet chill of autumn air, out of the sun. Many trees are still quite green, but others turning orange or pale gold all over, so that avenues, and hillsides on the edges of town are a wondrous patchwork of warm colours.
A week after the actual birthday Clare had a party last Saturday, organised by the kids, so she didn't really know who would be coming. Several lots of friends of long standing showed up, some we hadn't seen for a good while. Baby Rhiannon was tottering around in a red velvet dress and new shoes. The Rectory was busy from three till nearly midnight. A happy but tiring day, especially with a busy Sunday to follow.

Buildings in crisis
More worries over St James' this week, the church's gas boiler has sub standard ventilation and will cost £1,400 to get repaired to the standard required for safety certification. On top of this there's the sum of £300 which is the cost of the tests and certification of the church hall gas appliances. That's more than we have available to spend, yet it must be done. I shared the problem with Pastor Rae Galloway, whose 100 strong Pentecostal congregation uses the church Sunday and Monday evenings. After a few days, I received a message to say that they would be willing to give us an advance on the contribution they make towards the cost of their usage of the order of £1,000 to help us out. That means nothing more from them until next Easter, and no additional money coming in, but it does mean we can commission the work and avoid having to shut down. A non-certificated boiler would compromise our insruarge covereage, and that's not a good idea for any public building, let alone a church. Our ageing buildings with their huge repair costs are a real liability, which we need to turn into a social asset once more, having effectively lost the plot of how to serve the community, witness and proclaim to the faith that gives life meaning.

Tail wags dog yet again, or woe unto you lawyers
More nasty surprises too with an email from the property department of the Representative Body (RB) of the Church in Wales - the trustee organisation for all our buildings and land - concerning St Teilo's Church. This has been successfully adapted for use as a music rehearsal and concerts venue. Our biggest client is the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, who use the place at least five days a week during term time. The income from the College has enabled the church to do renovation work, and tackle all sorts of expensive problems created by builders and a rogue architect in the early days of the church's transformation, and to upgrade the disabled toilets to the latest set of standards demanded by public legislation. During the first three years of the project, 2001-2004, the RB granted a user licence, and during that period failed to negotiate a proper lease. I'm not even sure if anything proper was ever signed, but a gentleman's agreement between the College, and St Teilo Arts Trust, (registered as a charity and a company), set up by the Church Council to act on its behalf an agent for the development work, ensured that rent was paid and work on the church got done.
Everybody agreed that a proper lease was needed, and this time last year, I met with College representatives, and RB appointed surveyors to agree terms for rental. RB and College solicitors haggled for a year over minutae, and were so inefficient that we had two major crises of communication during the year when the RB started making threats lock the College out of the Church if it didn't comply with its demands, and the Parish formally refusing to take this action, tantamount to killing the goose that lays the golden egg.
Monday last, I woke up to the third crisis, with the RB issuing an injunction against the College, obliging it to recover the three years previously paid up rent from St Teilo's Arts Trust (all spent on building works and running costs already), simply because, in the view of its officers the RB should insist on all the rental going through its books before being passed to the parish. As no agreement had reached the stage of signature this seemed to me rather a quixotic position to adopt. As one of the four Church Trustees personally liable for this rent backlog (£20,000), I was not amused. After two tense and panic stricken days of email exchanges between worried Trustees, and between the RB and myself, the threat was withdrawn, on the promise that from the date of lease signing, rent would be transferred in compliance with their demands.
In fact I still don't know if the lease (which should have run from this time last year) has yet been signed. The RB have a habit of not communicating adequately (until there's a crisis) to the very people its officers are meant to be working on behalf of and serving. I often hear complaints from colleagues about the inadquate way in which this central administrative body of the Church in Wales works slowly and inefficiently, in ways that create problems for those they are meant to serve. They run as if they belong to another century, despite their computers and semblances of modern office procedure. The administrative model enshrined in the Church in Wales consistution is one that was written in mid-nineteenth century for the Church of Ireland when it was disestablished, and was considered good enough for the Church in Wales when it disastablished more than half a century later. Will it be possible to reform it before it all falls apart because of the drift away from the churches of so many people? It'll cause a lot more headaches before anything much happens

Churches city centenary celebration
The City Centre Churches together group decided it would observe the centenary of Cardiff in its own way. Not with a giant banquet for the Mayor and other officials - we are too poor and weak a body to lay on a big civic function nowadays. It's ironic that six weeks ago the Muslim communities of Cardiff were able to take the City Hall and fill it with 500 people for a public inter-faith event to which politicians and others in public life were invited, also an open invitation was made to the public in the press. Muslims are strong enough in committed numbers and wealth to be able to do something like that. Churches can no longer afford to. Anyway, forty of us came together at St Peter's RC Church in Roath for a short ecumenical service, ably led by Fr Peter Collins administrator of St David's Cathedral, followed by a supper together at Spiro's, the restaurant in thei next-door church hall, renowned for its excellent traditional meals. No speches, no guests of honour, no publicity, just a low key meeting of friends and associates. The glory days are well past, but, the few of us there are left in Christian witness, at least we have each other, and we feel we still belong and are part of this city.

Missionary Investment in Tourism
After our recent meeting with the tourism people at UWIC,
Ian Thomas, St John's Church tourism officer came to me with a new promotional idea. Cardiff Initiative, the city's marketing arm puts out an annual brochure which gets circulated around the world, and given out at tourism fayres internationally, promiting visits to Cardiff. A sixth of an inside page advertisment, with a few words about visiting St John's, a picture and contact details would cost nearly £600, but would make the church known globally, and potentially increase our visitor numbers greatly. Was it worth doing? I thought yes. For not only would it make us known and atrractive to people far away, it would also send a message out close to home, that we take ourselves seriously as a place that welcomes visitors to Cardiff, as a place that has much to offer, historical cultural, artistic, spiritual. No other church advertises therein, not even the Cathedral. We complain that Cardiff ignores the contribution made by its churches, and takes them for granted. But in this economically driven society, the church now has to 'buy into' the business of making itself know. The church is no longer an institution that advertises itself by its existence. People have to be given a reason, an incentive to discover our rich treasures. This much I realise. We are fortunate in that the Tea Room is so popular a place to visit, and that its revenue has been able to afford a publicity budget for the first time.

Cards for Good Causes here again
St John's hosts a charity card shop from mid October until Christmas, and this week the supervisors have been setting up in the St John Priory chapel and bringing in stock. This week too there have been more enquiries about organising charity concerts in the run-up to Christmas, on top of the usual Carol services. St John Ambulance is returing for a second time, the Welsh Baroque Ensemble (fundraising for Rwanda street kids), are coming back for the third time. For the first time the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movements Carol concert is moving over from the Quaker Meeting House in Charles Street (used to be the Victorian Vicarage), as numbers have outstripped the size of the venue. Also for the first time a student group - many medics - are wanting to do a fund-raiser for Medcins sans Frontieres. It all mekes sense of the 'season of goodwill'.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Michaelmas Muddles

A festive first
An extra Eucharist for me to celebrate at St Michael's Church on the morning of Michaelmas day (29th Sept), because Jenny, my colleague had been invited to celebrate at one of the two local church high schools in Cardiff. This was a small ground-breaking event. She's the first female priest to do this ever ! And it's ten years or more since women were first ordained priest in the Church in Wales. The Archbishop had to start making demands that quiet exclusion of women priests from ministering in schools ceases. The inertia against inclusion is strong because the traditional 'catholic' presence among clergy and congregations in the region is influential - there are many good and holy people who cannot come to terms with this change in the church. Nobody wants to give offence or take it, but the division is there, and we have to learn to live with these differences and not avoid them, and that means living with painful divergence, without resentment or recrimination. A test for all of us. I was very pleased Jenny had been invited, as she has two sons in the school, and is well known as a parental participant in the social environment of the school. I just keep hoping that the penny will drop eventually, that people will realise that the catholic tradition is enhanced and strengthened by being more inclusive, and by recognising God's call to women to develop the priestly ministry in fresh ways. Some say 'impossible'. I say with God nothing is impossible.

Tenby Trip
Saturday, I had to drive to the lovely seaside town on Tenby in Pembrokeshire - 200 miles round trip, to take part in a large gathering of the Order of St John Ambulance. Tenby Parish Church is, like St John's Cardiff, a large, ancient and beautiful building. The Vicar greeted me warmly - we had met a year ago when I christened the son of a couple I'd married in Monaco in another of his ancient churches, birthplace of St Illtyd. There must have been more than 300 people at the service - marked by its solemn military-religious ceremonial, investitures and promotions of members and co-workers. Many find such occasions very meaningful. I wonder what outsiders make of such goings on. Afterwards, I decided I'd take time to wander around the town and re-discover the place, last properly visited when the children were small 30 years ago. The rain came and the wind blew, however, the moment we stepped out of church, so I drove straight home disappointed.

Death shakes routine

Working in a parish in the heart of the city, without a large domestic population means fewer than average numbers of baptisms, weddings and funerals. Only three weddings and two baptisms so far this year at St John's, and only a quarter of the number of funerals my colleagues have in neighbouring parishes. It means I have extra time to spend on church ministry to visitors and city centre workers, also for developing church activities in relation to the creative arts, all of which are important in serving the life of the city centre. Over this past month, after a break of six months from funerals, I've had one a week, and then this week two funerals to prepare for. The time out needed for this in turn puts pressure on the rest of the working week and makes life uncomfortably busy. As a result of this I didn't get chance to check details of Sunday services in advance with the organist and others, so we ended up Sunday morning with me expecting to celebrate the Feast of St Michael and All Angels, and everyone else expecting to celebrate Harvest, which I was expecting to celebrate next week. I had to think on my feet in adapting what I had to say, and somehow it all came out right. If only I had a secretary to organise me and keep me straight on details!

A piece of coal at harvest
Our handful of kids turned up at the Sung Eucharist with their offerings of vegetables (fresh and canned), and there was a small display at the foot of the cross by the chancel arch with grapes, bread, salt and water, and a piece of coal, which reflects the past history of our region in which the harvest of coal from underground put bread into the mouths of hundreds of thousands of people. Almost no coal goes out of South Wales nowadays, but people have long memories. Now whilst there's an element of ancient habit in producing a piece of coal as part of the Harvest offering, when it no longer seems relevant, perhaps there's also an element of foresight. Since Maggie Thatcher closed the pits down because they were un-economic in the face of competition from cheap Chinese coal, the world has changed. China's industrial expansion is leading to greatly increased home energy consumption. With less for export coal prices are rising on world markets. South Wales is sitting on huge high quality reserves of coal, and maybe in a few decades it'll be profitable once more to extract it. Hopefully, second time around, advances in technology will severely limit the environmental impact of the mining industry of a landscape still in recovery from the last coal boom.

A Monday of meetings
It seems I haven't had a proper day off for the past three weeks, so no wonder the past weekend left me feeling exhausted. Monday is often quiet enough for a lie-in and some time to myself, but today I had three meetings.
One with the Royal British Legion Chairman to plan the Remembrance Garden blessing and inaguration ceremony at St John's - this year we'll be having the eisteddfod prize-winning RAF St Athan voluntary band accompanying the service, plus a pipe band - we are keen to get it right and honour all our war veterans properly, particularly as the world situation keeps on producing more war veterans, not to mention victims.
Then a metting with the chief officers of the Order of St John to discuss the future of their grand ceremonial occasions. For decades almost all of these were held at St John's, but in recent years these events have been distributed around the regions of Wales, to encourage local members and publicity exposure. St John's folks are quite sad to lose these events - several people are members of the Order of St John - but a bowing to he inevitable. The Order is going for more publicity to recuit and retain members, and this means grander events with more invited guests from among public officials. These are difficult to stage in a church with no auxiliary buildings like ours, in the middle of a parking restricted zone, so there is no argument for retaining things the way they used to be. However, it looks as if we'll get the annual Christmas Carol service regularly instead.
The thirs meeting of the day was with three staff of the Marketing, Tourism and Hospitality department of UWIC, Cardiff's second University, to discuss our attempts to make St John's more visitor friendly and how to promite the church as a place of tourism. From this useful meeting we hope to get some students doing project work that will enable us to get a better picture of what other people see as our potential, and then to know if that accords with our vision. I could have done without such a tough working day, straight after the weekend, but all in all it was quite refreshing.