St John's Mission

The material which was on this page had become seriously out of date.  The text below is an updated version of the Parish Vision and Development Plan agreed at the 2014 Annual Vestry and reviewed annually.  The document can be downloaded from the link at the foot of this page.


The City Parish of St John the Baptist, Cardiff

 ‘Extend hospitality to strangers … Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God’ (Romans 12:13, 15:7) 

We believe that God’s primary call upon our lives, to participate in his mission to his world in Cardiff’s city centre, can best be understood through reflecting both on our patron saint, John the Baptist, and on the Seven Sacred Spaces of faithful Christian communities. For us, it is a call to holy hospitality, through which we point others to follow Jesus more closely.

Our desire is that everyone who lives, works, shops or visits in central Cardiff, should know themselves invited and welcomed to enter St John’s, and within should find an opportunity to encounter the living God, and so leave having been encouraged to take a further step on their pilgrim journey.


John the Baptist

 In St John the Baptist we find:

·        a voice calling in the wilderness, and so also to all who pass by …

·        which proclaims the coming of the Christ (though our message is less of judgement, and more of God’s saving love and limitless compassion, cf James 2:13) …

·        and is committed to making rough ways smooth (overcoming obstacles to faith, making our services, our building, our message, etc easy for visitors to engage) …

·        and so thus points others clearly to Jesus …

·        and is able to let people go, to continue their own path with our Saviour.

Our call to mission in the city centre is thus one of proclamation, shaped by this stance.


Seven Sacred Spaces

 Our reflection on the Seven Sacred Spaces (generally displayed in St John’s) taught us that:

·        Cell and Chapel are the essential foundations for us all: the commitment to deepening personal faith, and to growing our shared worshipping life in which we expect to meet, and be challenged and changed by, the living God.


·        Refectory, and the practice and attitude of generous sharing, is central to our own life and our mission. For ourselves, the extended time of coffee and cake after the service helps deepen ‘community’ and the common life of this gathered congregation. The Tea sPot, well known in the city and beyond, extends this warm welcome to many visitors.  And yet, our hospitality goes beyond this …

·        Cloister speaks of serendipitous encounter, between individuals, and also of individuals with God. The possibility of such encounter should as far as possible be offered to the large number of visitors to St John’s, without being forced upon them. 

Together these convey the content of our mission – the call to offer holy hospitality


These form the primary lens through which we also engaged with the other Sacred Spaces:

·        Chapter reminds us of God’s leading in all decision making – from personal choices, to PCC and Vestry, to shaping the church’s voice whether on the institutional level or through individuals, in all areas of the city’s life.  Often, the touchstone of our engagement will be to follow John the Baptist in ‘pointing others to Jesus’ – so that others can understand, and respond to, the Christian principles that are at stake. 

·        Library calls us to studying, learning and sharing Christian knowledge and helping others to do the same.  Our call to hospitality points us to pursue ways of helping visitors grow in Christian knowledge, both knowing about God, and knowing God.

·        Garden speaks of productive labour and restful recreation. There is a particular challenge about how we best use the resources of our building and gardens. We are exploring redevelopment of the 1975 ‘Pace Vestry’, no longer fit for purpose, to better respond to our vocation at the heart of Wales’ growing capital city.


Our Broader Context

St John’s is the historic civic church at Cardiff’s heart, of the ‘disestablished-established’ Church in Wales. This brings particular opportunities, expectations and challenges – especially in relation to the wider role that can be played beyond ‘normal parish life’. This means working more widely with Anglican and Ecumenical partners in and beyond the city. The close relationship with Eglwys Dewi Sant, and shared curate, is just one part of this.

St John the Baptist was a voice calling out ‘in the wilderness’ – to anyone and everyone. Underpinning many of our concrete objectives is a parallel task of communicating clearly our presence and message, so people may know we are more than a historic building plus coffee shop, open daily to visitors, and used as a church on special occasions!  This is a house of prayer, a site of continuing worship at the heart of the city, for over 800 years.

The Parish boundary runs just north of the prison and John Lewis, up the Taff to Blackweir (taking in Sophia Gardens), south along the railway line, then east on St Peter’s Street, turning south along City Road down to the prison. The area is small, with around 2000 residents, of whom a minority are permanent – most being students, in short term lets, or midweek /weekend residents in city centre flats. The congregation comes from across the whole city, with an electoral roll of 57, visitors at every service, and ‘Attendees’ at 71.   

In practical terms, we offer a mix of events on weekday lunchtimes – from a Monday discussion group (Alpha, Bible themes, etc); Tuesday Christian meditation; Wednesday and Friday Eucharists, and Chaplaincy on Thursdays. We also run Carols for Shoppers, ‘Preparing for Christmas’, on Saturday afternoons once the Christmas market arrives.

We also host a wide range of special services, from the Lord Mayor’s National Civic St David’s Day Service for Wales, to carol concerts for a variety of organisations. We are the Mother Church for the Priory of Wales of the Order of St John, and for the Worshipful Livery Company of Wales. We host a Garden of Remembrance each November, and have links to many service organisations. Such events help people make links between faith and what is often seen as ‘secular’ life outside church walls – though all of life is the Lord’s!

We host many musical events, being blessed with a historic organ and excellent acoustics.

All contribute to encouraging people to enter this sacred space, and encounter its Lord.

Cardiff St John Admin,
17 May 2017, 01:23