If you like a good underdog story, you’ll like today’s episode. And if you pastor a small church or you’re new to a parish that’s on the struggle bus, you might like it even more. Today we’re in search of growth. In Search of Growth is a series we’ve been doing in the magazine, highlighting stories of where God’s been at work in ways that increase health and numbers in local Episcopal and Anglican churches.
This summer, as many of you know, we hosted a pilgrimage to England. What I’m sure you don’t know is that Amber then took some vacation time in Wales, where she stayed with the Rev. Dr. Mark Clavier, a vicar in Brecon who we’ve had on before to talk about Christian ecology and so-called “Celtic” Christianity, and his wife, Dr. Sarah Ward Clavier, who joined us for a Halloween episode a few years back to talk about the gruesome details of clergy wills.
One of Amber's favorite Welsh adventures was getting to know the church Mark pastors, St Mary’s in Brecon. St Mary’s is very old parish, which after precipitous decline, has found new life. After dwindling to 16, it’s now a rapidly growing congregation of about 60, lively, warm, very active in their community, and very, very traditional in their worship. In a place where more evangelical styles tend to see the growth, this is intriguing.
Today we tell their story, which reminds us of a certain Apple+ TV series: a British community at a low point; a cheerful, mustachioed American showing up, warming hearts, and launching unexpected tactics. Yes, we're talking about Ted Lasso, which is, in fact, Fr. Mark’s nickname among some of his parishioners.
Fr. Mark coming is not the end of the story— and it’s really not the beginning either. So pull up a chair, grab a Welsh cake. We hope you enjoy the conversations.