The Church in Wales is a member Church of the Anglican Communion.
From the Reformation until 1920, the Anglican Church in Wales was part of the Church of England, and the state Church in Wales was the Church of England. During the 19th century the Non-Conformist Churches grew rapidly in Wales. Eventually, the majority of Welsh Christians were Nonconformist Churches grew rapidly in Wales. Eventually, the majority of Welsh Christians were Nonconformist, however Anglicans were and are the largest single religious denomination in Wales.
At the beginning of the 20th century, under the influence of nonconformist politicians such as David Lloyd-George, an act of parliament was passed to separate the Anglican Church in Wales from the Church of England. In 1920 the Church in Wales was disestablished. This meant that, unlike in England, Wales no longer had a state Church.
The Church in Wales is as a result fully independent of both the state and the Church of England. The Church in Wales recognises the Archbishop of Canterbury as the honorary spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican community, although the Archbishop of Canterbury has no formal power over the Church in Wales.
Prior to the creation of the Church in Wales, there were four Anglican dioceses in Wales, each led by its own bishop:
In 1920, two more dioceses were created:
Swansea and Brecon was created from the Eastern part of St David's diocese, largely corresponding to the City & County of Swansea and the former counties of Breconshire and Radnorshire.
The leader of the Church in Wales is the Archbishop of Wales who is elected from the six diocesan bishops and continues as a diocesan bishop after his election. Currently the Church in Wales does not consecrate women as bishops, however there are now many women priests and deacons in active ministry in the Church.
- The Most Revd Dr Barry Morgan - Bishop of Llandaf
- The Right Revd John Davies - Bishop of St Asaph
- The Right Revd Saunders Davies - Bishop of Bangor
- The Right Revd Carl Cooper - Bishop of St David's
- The Right Revd Dr Dominic Walker - Bishop of Monmouth
- The Right Revd Anthony Pierce - Bishop of Swansea and Brecon
Provincial Assistant Bishop
- The Right Revd David Thomas
In 1996, the Church in Wales approved the Ordination of Women, and a seventh bishop was appointed (the Provincial Assistant Bishop) to provide pastoral care for those who could not in good conscience accept the ordination of women.
The current Archbishop of Canterbury (The Most Reverend Dr Rowan Williams) is the first Welsh Bishop since the Reformation to be the Archbishop of Canterbury. He was elected Bishop of Monmouth in 1991 and then elected Archbishop of Wales in 1999. He was selected by the Crown Appointments Commission to be Archbishop of Canterbury in July 2002. He was succeeded as Bishop of Monmouth by the former Bishop of Reading, the Right Revd Dr Dominic Walker, and was succeeded as Archbishop of Wales by the Bishop of Llandaf, the Right Revd Dr Barry Morgan.
The Representative Body is responsible for the care of the Church's property and the Governing Body functions as a kind of Parliament for the Church.
While the Church of England has a broad spread of Christian traditions, the Church in Wales as a whole tends to be predominantly High Church, that is to say that many of the traditions inherited from the Roman Catholic church tend to get the most emphasis. This is perhaps a reaction against the Protestant traditions which dominate Welsh Christianity as a whole. Indeed, Anglo-Catholicism (the Anglican tradition most inclined towards Catholicism) is particularly strong among parishes in industrial South Wales. However there are also many thriving Evangelical parishes within the Church in Wales.
While the Church in Wales as a whole has tended to lag behind the Church of England in accepting developments such as the Ordination of Women, the Church in Wales does not seem to have suffered very much from the rifts and partisan disputes that have affected the Church of England in recent years.