On the Feast of the Epiphany, 6th January, during the online Service broadcast using webcam, the Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, Dr Paul Colton, instituted the Reverend Meurig Williams to the incumbency of Mallow Union of Parishes.
Accompanied only by the Archdeacon of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, the Venerable Adrian Wilkinson, and the Dean of Cork, the Very Reverend Nigel Dunne, with no congregation present, Bishop Colton said that one of the aspects of the pandemic we have had to get used to is things not going to plan.
Bishop Colton said:
This Epiphany Eucharist tonight is not as we might have wished. I should be in Saint James’ Church in Mallow. We should be there in great numbers, joined by clergy and lay people from all over the Diocese and local community, to welcome your new Rector, the Reverend Meurig Williams. Since his arrival on 18th December he might ordinarily have expected to be able to go out and about in the community but instead he has been confined to his home: isolated and in quarantine. In the weeks ahead you should be meeting him on Sundays at church and in your homes as he makes his way around the parish. But you, and he, will have to be patient and understanding, because the pandemic allows for none of this. ‘Things do not go to plan.’
And we see things not going to plan either in tonight’s Gospel – on this Feast of the Epiphany: “And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.” (Matthew 2.12)
Meurig Williams was born in Bangor, North Wales, where his father was a Baptist minister and grew up in a Welsh-speaking home. After studying modern languages at the University of Aberystwyth, including a year in Bordeaux, he was a teacher in a secondary school near Cardiff for four years.
He returned to the University of Wales to study theology and trained for ordination at Westcott House, Cambridge. He was ordained in Bangor Cathedral in 1992 and served a curacy in the port town of Holyhead.
He subsequently served as Incumbent of Pwllheli, a market town in rural North-West Wales; and then became an Incumbent in Cardiff. He returned to Bangor as Archdeacon in 2005. In 2011 he moved to become Commissary to the Bishop in Europe – a role which he combined with being Archdeacon of North-West Europe (serving Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands) before his current appointment as Archdeacon of France in 2016. There he had oversight of 83 congregations across France, many of which serve scattered, rural populations.
Meurig has been involved in fostering strong ecumenical relationships throughout his ministry, and is currently involved in discussions between the Church of England and the French Protestant churches. He also has good working relationships with the Roman Catholic Church in France and, as a fluent French-speaking Anglican, has contributed to various ecumenical conferences, including at the Catholic Institute in Paris.