The Revd Canon Dr Sarah Rowland Jones LVO OBE OStJ has been Priest in Charge of the City Parish of St John the Baptist since 31 October 2013, when she was licenced by the Archbishop of Llandaff.
Sarah grew up in Welshpool and Shrewsbury, with family connections across Mid and South Wales (through her father’s mother, she has ties to Calvinistic Methodist Reformer Daniel Rowland of Llangeitho). She read mathematics at Newnham College, Cambridge where she became the President of the Junior Common Room, and, on graduating, spent a year as the Deputy President of the Students’ Union – the first woman to be elected to a sabbatical position.
In 1981 Sarah joined the Diplomatic Service, and in the next 15 years had postings to the British Embassies in Amman (1984-7) and Budapest (1992-6) learning Arabic (another first for women) and later Hungarian. While not overseas, she served in the Foreign Office in London, with responsibilities ranging from relations with Thailand and Laos to energy policy, counter-terrorism, and dealing with the European Union. In Budapest Sarah helped organise the Queen’s State visit to Hungary, for which she was made a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order (LVO). After resigning from the diplomatic service, she was awarded an OBE for Services to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the 1997 New Year’s Honours.
Sarah left the FCO in 1996, following acceptance as an ordinand in the Church in Wales, through her home Diocese of St Asaph. She trained at St John’s College, Nottingham, taking a first class Honours degree through Nottingham University. In 2011 she completed a PhD that combined her political past with her theological interests, on how best to pursue authentic expression of the gospel in a multicultural society. Doing God in Public: An Anglican Interpretation of MacIntyre's Tradition-Based Reasoning as a Christian Praxis for a Pluralist World is available on line at http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/12286/1/Doing_God_in_Public_-_Thesis_-_Final.pdf .
Ordained deacon in 1999 and then priest in 2000, Sarah served her title in the Rectorial Benefice of Wrexham. The Anglican Church rapidly made use of her global experience, appointing her to two international bodies. Through one of these, the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations, she met her husband to be, the Very Revd Justus Marcus, then the Dean of Kimberley Cathedral. Sarah moved to South Africa at the end of 2002, by which time Justus was Bishop of Saldanha Bay, a regional bishop in the Diocese of Cape Town. He was found to have cancer just before their planned wedding. They married in January 2003 and Sarah was left a widow the following December. In 2011 she married Peter Evans, a fellow Welsh exile living in South Africa.
From late 2003, Sarah worked as the Research and Ecumenical Advisor for the Archbishops of Cape Town: first the Most Revd Njongonkulu Ndungane, then his successor, the Most Revd Thabo Makgoba. After Archbishop Ndungane’s retirement at the end of 2007, Sarah produced and edited a book, Faith in Action: Archbishop for the Church and World, ‘an exploration of contemporary public theology in honour of, and in dialogue with, the former Archbishop’. Contributors included the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and Desmond Tutu. Her work entailed supporting the Archbishop across the breadth of his preaching, speaking, and writing tasks, from spiritual and theological topics through to engagement in social justice and a wide area of public, political and economic debate. She was made an Honorary Canon of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa in 2010.
Sarah edited and compiled The Vision Before Us, the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations’ report on its work from 2000 to 2008. She now convenes the ecumenical working group of the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission for Unity, Faith and Order, which has met annually since 2009. She also represented the Anglican Communion on the coordinating committee of the Global Christian Forum from 2003 to 2015. From 2016 she has been a member of the International Commission for Anglican Orthodox Theological Dialogue, as it considers practices of moral discernment. Speaking and writing on public theology and ethics, Anglicanism, ecumenism and spirituality, Sarah is also a trained spiritual director in the Ignatian tradition, and a published poet (including in the 2016 anthology The Poet’s Quest for God, published by Eyewear). She remains a research associate at Stellenbosch University’s Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology, and previously also taught Anglican Formation to ordinands in the Diocese of Cape Town.
In October 2013 Sarah returned to Wales with her husband (and two dogs, Benjamin the cocker spaniel, and scottie Cora) to take up her current position at the City Parish of St John the Baptist. She has since been appointed Chaplain to the Priory for Wales of the Order of St John of Jerusalem (for which St John’s is the Mother Church) and was made OStJ in 2015. She has also been named a member of the Church in Wales’ Standing Doctrinal Commission and of the Commission of Covenanted Churches’ Faith and Order Panel, and as the Church in Wales’ observer to the Church of England – Methodist Covenant process. Sarah does occasional teaching and chaplaincy with St Michael’s Centre / St Padarn’s Institute; and chairs the Llandaff Diocesan Spirituality Group.