It is not often that a newly consecrated bishop describes the event of their consecration as “the making of history”.
Yet, for those gathered in the Aberystwyth Arts Centre this weekend, those words rang true. The consecration of Bishop Stuart Bell was indeed an event of national, global, and quite possibly eternal, significance.
As Bishop Stuart set out in his consecration, to serve in the Anglican Convocation in Europe was the inevitable outworking of the decisions made by the Church in Wales eighteen months ago.
“This event contains within it a twofold testimony. The first is a testimony, as orthodox Anglicans in Wales, to the gospel of Jesus Christ, as revealed to us in the Scriptures – so this is a testimony to something and that is our priority.
“But it is also a testimony against, which is the sadness of this day. A testimony against the Church in Wales, which on 6 September 2021 stepped away from the Bible and took a different course,” he said.
Bishop Stuart has served his Saviour in Wales for five decades. The gathered assembly included dozens of church leaders whose ministry he has nurtured over the years.
This experience will be invaluable as he assists Bishop Andy Lines in providing episcopal support and encouragement, oversight and accountability for the growing number of clergy and congregations of the Anglican Convocation in Europe, in the Principality.
That the consecration has global significance was made evident by the presence of Archbishop Foley Beach, Chair of the Gafcon Primates Council, who led the service.
Bishop Stuart’s consecration represents the continuing provision, by the global Anglican family, of a home for those seeking to remain faithful to the Biblical gospel of Jesus Christ and uphold historic, orthodox, biblical, confessional Anglicanism.
Whether this event has eternal significance is in the Lord’s hands. But as Archbishop Foley reflected after the service, “It will now give the people of Wales a godly and faithful bishop who upholds the theology and moral teaching of the Bible and our Anglican tradition.”
As the congregation sang, with the first verse in Welsh, “For Wales, our land, O Father, hear our prayer:”
For Wales our land O Father hear our prayer,
This blessed vineyard granted to our care;
May you protect her always faithfully,
And prosper here all truth and purity;
For your Son’s sake who bought us with His blood,
O make our Wales in your own image Lord.
O come the day when o’er our barren land
Reviving winds blow sent from God’s own hand,
As grace pours down on parched and arid sand
We will bear fruit for Christ by his command,
Come with one voice and gentle vigour sing
The virtues of our gentle Lamb and King.