First Minister opens the Wesley Centre at Tondu

TonduThe congregation at Tondu were delighted to welcome Wales’ First Minister, Rt. Hon Carwyn Jones AM to open The Wesley Centre at Tondu Methodist Church this Saturday, March 22nd, after a £450,000 re-development scheme supported by the Methodist Church, the Welsh Government CFAP scheme, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Veolia Environmental Trust and various other funders. Celebrations continued on into Sunday with a United Area service at which Rev. David Deeks, former General Secretary of the Methodist Church, was the preacher. The photo shows the First Minister in conversation with Rev. Dr. Stephen Wigley, the Synod Chair and the Area Superintendent and minister at Tondu, Rev. Gordon Sollis, with the scheme co-ordinator Prof Jeff Jones also in the the picture.

A New World Record!


Rev. Irfan John and his wife Raheela proudly show the Synod Chair, Rev. Dr. Stephen Wigley, the Guinness World Record Certificate they received for the largest number of different nationalities to have taken part in a Nativity Play. This follows on from the special Nativity event which they organised at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff last November (see our earlier news story). Our congratulations to Irfan, Raheela and to all who took part in it.

World’s Largest Ever Multi Cultural Nativity Play!

Rev. John, who organised the World Record attempt.

Rev. John, who organised the World Record attempt.

A world record for the largest ever multi-cultural nativity play may have been set in Wales on 30th November 2013.

People were invited to take part in the attempt by Rev. Irfan John, synod enabler for the Methodist Church in Wales. Rev. Irfan John is employed to work with culturally diverse congregations and acts as a conduit between churches and Synod, as well as supporting asylum seekers and refugees.

Rev. John said: “It’s a way of building the bridge of care between people and taking the message of peace around the world…If people from different countries, different backgrounds, different nationalities, different religions, with different languages are working together in Cardiff, why not in other parts of the world?”

And the record looks set to be confirmed with 56 nationalities gracing the stage at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff to make up the seasonal scene.

The cast of the nativity, with 56 nationalities represented.

The cast of the nativity, with 56 nationalities represented.

The Superintendent of the Cardiff Circuit, Rev. Peter Holwell, who was a narrator in the event said: “The whole event was tremendous, but one of the most powerful moments was at the end where each country and the name of the representative was called out and the names of many of the nations that are in the news daily were heard, but instead of in the context of violence or tension it was of a group of people kneeling together around the 6month old baby who represented the Christ-child and knowing peace and harmony. This was a profound moment that should encourage us to work for the same result in the context of our daily lives.”

Archbishop Opens First Aberkenfig Charity Shop


Archbishop Barry Morgan pictured with Rev’d Chris Gray in the Storehouse Community shop

On December 3rd 2013 the Archbishop of Wales opened a charity shop set up by churches to support people in debt.

The Storehouse Community Shop is the first charity shop in Aberkenfig and will be run by eight local churches. It aims to raise about £600 a week which will go towards setting up a Christians Against Poverty debt centre and also local causes.

The shop employs a manager and a deputy manager part-time who are helped by about 20 volunteers from the churches. It sells good quality second-hard clothes, books and CDs.

Cutting the ribbon to open the shop, the Archbishop, Dr Barry Morgan, said, “This shop is an excellent example of Christianity in action – people working together to respond to a need and help others in their community. It will provide a service by selling second-hard items and the money raised will all go to helping others, particularly those among us who are facing increasing financial hardship and struggling with debt.”

Revd Stephen Pare, priest-in-charge of Aberkenfig, said the shop, on Bridgend Road, was the idea of church leaders from a variety of traditions in the community. He said, “It’s the result of nearly two years of regular, weekly-united prayer meetings. Our aim is to provide a service for the community – we talked to people and found out that they wanted a second-hand shop as there isn’t one at all in Aberkenfig. There was also a need to help people facing debt. So we hope this shop will raise about £6,000 to set up a debt centre. The charity, Christians Against Poverty, supports those in debt, helping some 20-50 families a week become debt-free.

“None of the money the Storehouse raises will assist the running costs of the churches and chapels – it will all go to the community.”

The Revd Chris Gray, Assistant Chair of the Methodist Synod, cut the cake to mark the occasion.

Rev’d Gordon Sollis, minister of nearby Tondu Wesley Methodist Church said that the idea for the shop arose out of the regular weekly meetings that local church leaders had been sharing in over the last two years. “We became aware of the impact of the current economic climate on our community and felt we had to do something in response. The shop will provide a service in itself but also create an income to enable us to buy in debt-management services from the Christians Against Poverty (CAP) organisation. CAP also enables local people to be trained to run courses giving people the skills that they need to prevent them getting into debt in the first place.”
Tondu Wesley Methodist Church is nearly at the end of a refurbishment programme that will provide community facilities. Rev’d Sollis said that he saw these two projects as complementary.
“Our new facilities will be an ideal place for the money management courses.
RELATE, the organisation that helps people with their close relationships, have been using our premises for three years already and are eager to move into the Wesley Centre when the work is completed early in the New Year.”

The churches supporting it are: Aberkenfig Bible Church; Aberkenfig Church of God; Wesley Methodist, Tondu; Nazareth Baptist Church, Bryncethin; St Roberts Roman Catholic Church, Aberkenfig; Smyrna Baptist Church, Penyfa;, The Parish of All Saints Penyfai; and the Parish of Llansantffraid, Bettws and Aberkenfig.

The shop is open Monday -Thursday 10am -4pm and Saturday 10am – 1pm.

Aberkenfig2 The photograph shows Mr Tony Jones, Senior Elder of Aberkenfig Church of God; Rev Stephen Pare, Vicar of Aberkenfig; Rev Gordon Sollis, Superintendent Minister of the Bridgend United Area; and Pastor Paul Homans of Aberkenfig Bible Church. Sadly, Father John Meredith, Priest of St Roberts Roman Catholic Church, who had been closely involved in establishing the Charity Shop, died just before the photograph was taken. 

Methodist Women in Britain

The commissioning service for Sandra Williams (Cathays, Cardiff) as President of MWiB in South Wales was held on September 8th 2011.


Rev. Darren Middleton (minister at Cathays), Margaret Bizzell (Swansea and Gower – immediate past president South Wales), Janet Neilson (Vice President MWiB South Wales), Sandra Williams (Pres MWiB South Wales), Rev Dr Stephen Wigley (Chair Wales Synod)

Sandra’s theme for her term of office is “Hands”. The preacher at the service was Rev Dr Stephen Wigley, who preached on Sandra’s theme, drawing on many examples of the uses of hands which are mentioned so many times in scripture and are so important as we live out our lives in Christ. Sandra and the ladies at Cathays are using their hands to knit blankets and baby clothes, which are been taken to baby clinics in African countries where they are needed urgently.


Sandra Williams and Mary Williams (Wales rep on the > MWiB Forum)

MWiB – forthcoming event – Quiet Day on Tuesday May 1st 2012 @ Nicholaston House, Penmaen, Gower. More details will be available in the new year from Janet Neilson (01792 202085)