The new Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Wales, the Rev Gwenda Richards, has urged its members to be more vocal and engaged in the society around them.
In her first address as Moderator to the Church’s General Assembly last week, Ms Richards warned that Welsh churches generally seemed to be losing their capacity to address their communities, each other and God.
Ms Richards succeeds the outgoing Moderator, the Rev Haydn Thomas, who, earlier in the Assembly had called for the withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan.
In her address, the new Moderator said that Presbyterian churches needed to learn afresh to be "relevant and lively and contemporary" in their context.
“Going to the chapel and then ignoring the problems on your doorstep is not the message conveyed by the Gospel, but rather, trying to deal with local problems by offering a strong Christian voice on matters which concern people,” she declared.
Ms Richards continued: “In an age full of difficult questions about the value of life, the right to live, war and terrorism, the environment and the future of the planet, we have a Gospel to offer and a Saviour to present. We must rediscover how to speak to our society.”
She warned, however, that churches could not develop a relationship with their communities without first speaking to each other and "more importantly, without discerning how to discern that God is speaking to us".
"We must be ready to listen to each other and to share good ideas and good practice," she commented, adding: "We must remember that we are one Church – the Presbyterian Church of Wales. Although this is difficult as local churches face difficulties and pressures from every side, we must also develop a greater readiness to listen to each other and to understand the different opinions and needs which exist among us."
Rev Ifan Roberts, General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church of Wales, welcomed the new Moderator, saying she would "fully commit to moving the Church forward over the next year".
Ms Richards is minister of Seilo Church in Caernarfon, where she was brought up, as well as ministering to a small church in nearby Waunfawr.