IN her first interview since being elected the new Bishop of Monmouth, the Venerable Cherry Vann spoke with reporter Tomos Povey.

BEING “accessible and visible” across the region are just some of the many priorities that have been laid out by the new Bishop Elect Cherry Vann.

Ms Vann, who is currently Archdeacon of Rochdale, was elected the 11th Bishop of Monmouth last week, after she secured the necessary two-thirds majority vote from members of the Electoral College at Newport Cathedral.

The pianist, who was among the first women to be ordained as a priest in the Church of England in 1994 - and is the first female bishop in Monmouth's history - has now outlined her key priorities for the diocese, with one of the most notable being the need to tackle the decline in church membership.

“I hope to be a very accessible bishop and I want to be someone who is known by the diocese and the wider community,” she said.

“I want to be visible and someone known to be very keen in working in partnerships across the Diocese.

“This is a very different province to the Church of England, and it works differently. I am aware that I have a lot to learn both about the church and how it works, but also about the past and what I am inheriting.

“I am also aware that the church is struggling to be relevant in people’s lives. I want to work with people to find ways of communicating, what is essentially, a message of love and hope to people who find the institutional church difficult or inaccessible.

“Institutions do not find it easy to change. I think what we have got, not just in Monmouth but right across the established churches, is an organisation that is struggling to meet the demands of the present age. An age where religion is seen as irrelevant at best and people do not understand what it is about. That is a huge challenge for everyone.”

South Wales Argus:

(Cherry Vann, Archbishop John Davies and other bishops gather in Newport. Picture: Church in Wales)

She added: “I am aware that this is not a one-person show. I am very collaborative by nature, but we need the wisdom and gifts from everybody.”

The Archdeacon described the moment she discovered she had been elected bishop as “unforgettable”.

She said: “I was quite struck by the process the Church in Wales adopts to find new bishops. It seems to me to be heavily dependent on the guidance of the Holy Spirit and that gives me great encouragement.

“I was asked on the Thursday before they [the Electoral College] met on the Tuesday if I would be willing to be nominated.

“I found out I had been elected at about 2.30pm on the Thursday afternoon [when] I got a call from Archbishop John.

“My whole world changed in a moment.”


Reflecting on the significance of her election as the first female Bishop of Monmouth, the Cambridge-educated priest stressed the importance for people to “work together with the gifts God has given us”.

“I am a woman and I guess people will rejoice but others won’t,” she said. “At the end of the day I am a child of God and the world is made up of men and women.

“The key thing is that we work together with the gifts God has given us.

“It will be wonderful to come here, where half of the bishops are men and women.”

Ms Vann, who is originally from Leicestershire, had previously served as chaplain with the deaf community.

“The experience as chaplain with the deaf community shaped my ministry,” she said.

“I owe an awful lot to those six years to the deaf community. I learnt British sign language and am now hoping to learn a little Welsh.

“My uncle was born on Anglesey and was a great Welsh advocate. I spent many happy holidays in Wales.”

She added: “I am really looking forward to the new job and ask people to hold me in their prayers.”

Ms Vann has served as Archdeacon of Rochdale, in the Diocese of Manchester, for the past 11 years. She trained for ministry at Westcott House, Cambridge, and was ordained as a deacon in 1989.

She will be the Bishop Elect until the appointment is formally confirmed by the Archbishop at a Sacred Synod service. She will be then be consecrated as bishop at Brecon Cathedral and enthroned as the Bishop of Monmouth at Newport Cathedral.