Alwyn Rice Jones

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Alwyn Rice Jones (25 March 1934 – 12 August 2007) was Bishop of St Asaph from 1982 to 1999 and also Archbishop of Wales, the Welsh province of the Anglican Communion, from 1991 to 1999. During Rice Jones' tenure, the Church of Wales reformed its rules in order to ordain women priests, and to allow divorcees to remarry in church.

Early and private life[edit]

Rice Jones was born in Capel Curig in Caernarvonshire, and spoke Welsh as his first language. He was educated at the grammar school in Llanrwst, and was orphaned at the age of 14. He read Welsh at St David's College, Lampeter, graduating in 1955, and then read theology at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, graduating in 1957.

He married Meriel Thomas in 1968. They had a daughter together. He suffered from ill health in later life, and was cared for by his wife. He died in St Asaph in Denbighshire, and was survived by his wife and daughter.


Rice Jones trained for the ministry at St Michael's College, Llandaff. He was ordained as a deacon in Bangor in 1958 and as a priest the following year. The early years of his ecclesiastical career were assisted by the patronage of the Bishop of Bangor, Gwilym Williams, who recognised his talents. He was a curate in Llanfairisgaer for four years, also serving with the Student Christian Movement in Wales. He was Director of Education in the Diocese of Bangor from 1965 to 1975. He served as Vicar of Porthmadog from 1975 to 1979, developing close relationships with the local Roman Catholic church, and was an Honorary Canon at Bangor Cathedral from 1974 to 1978. He was Prebendary of Llanfair for one year, from 1978 to 1979, before becoming Dean of Brecon Cathedral. He was installed as Bishop of St Asaph in 1982, and as Archbishop of Wales in 1991.

Rice Jones adhered to a liberal theology, and supported ecumenism. He supported the ordination of women, but his first attempt to bring a measure in 1994 to make the reform failed. His second attempt, in 1996, was passed, and the first female priests were ordained the following year. He courted controversy by condemning the NATO bombing of Kosovo in 1999.

He attended the World Council of Churches Assembly in Canberra in 1991, and the Anglican Consultative Council in Cape Town in 1993. At the Lambeth Conference in 1998, he persuaded the Welshmen present (including Rowan Williams) to entertain their guests during a Welsh cultural evening by singing or telling jokes.

He was a member of the Welsh Gorsedd of Bards and regularly attended the National Eisteddfod. He supported Welsh devolution, arguing that the disestablishment of the Church of Wales in 1920 made it stronger. He took part in the special service to mark the opening of the National Assembly for Wales in May 1999.

He retired in 1999, shortly after his 65th birthday, and was succeeded as Archbishop of Wales by Rowan Williams, Bishop of Monmouth, who would later become the Archbishop of Canterbury.


Church in Wales titles
Preceded by
Harold John Charles
Bishop of St Asaph
Succeeded by
John Stewart Davies
Preceded by
George Noakes
Archbishop of Wales
Succeeded by
Rowan Williams