Llanfair Uniting Church: (8 Denominations)
The Story of Llanfair
In 1986 the Penrhys Christian Fellowship had just 10 worshippers, who met in one room situated next to the betting shop, in the local shopping precinct. John and Norah Morgans and their family came to live and work in Penrhys in 1986. John had been Moderator of the United Reformed Church of Wales from 1977 until 1989 when he became minister of Penrhys Uniting Church.
A maisonette block, scheduled for demolition, in the centre of Penrhys, was gifted to The Penrhys New Perspective Charity by Rhondda Borough council in 1990. By the end of that year a huge sum had been raised, in the main from the private sector, the Churches, hundreds of individuals, charitable bodies, Statutary Authorities and the business community. The refurbishment began in April 1991 and Llanfair was opened on 29 February 1992.
What We Believe
Ever since we opened in 1992 Llanfair has tried to stay faithful to the Gospel by serving the community of Penrhys. Work and worship have been at the heart of Llanfair’s actions. A pattern of Christian nurture has developed, shaped by two basic principles:
- faithfulness to the Text of the Gospel
- faithfulness to the Context of the Community.
The hope of Llanfair is to integrate the offering of worth to God in worship with the offering of life in service to the world in work. Wholeness for the person, the community and the world demands an integration of sacred and secular.
Llanfair has developed a theological framework which both reflects the Faith of the People of God as expressed historically through the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and explored universally today through the life of the Church. Llanfair has been particularly blessed in this exploration because of the nature of her ecumenical foundation. Llanfair exists as a Uniting Church, supported and recognized by eight of the historic Churches in Wales (The Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Baptist Union of Wales, the Church in Wales, the Congregational Federation, the Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church of Wales, the Union of Welsh Independents, and the United Reformed Church).
At the same time, the very nature of Llanfair’s address – Penrhys, Rhondda – has determined that nurture and mission are identical and at the heart of the Church’s existence. Not only is Llanfair geographically in the centre of Penrhys but it is at the centre of the life of the community.
Llanfair is a Uniting Church
In 1989 the Penrhys Fellowship was recognized as the Penrhys Uniting Church recognised by the eight denominations. This recognition was the culmination of a long journey. In 1971 the Free Churches in Rhondda and the Anglican Rural Deanery established the Penrhys Christian Fellowship to serve the new housing estate of Penrhys. All property in Penrhys was owned by Rhondda Borough Council who insisted that any ecclesiastical building should house some form of united church. The constitution of 1989 was created “in the spirit of the Covenant for Unity in Wales” and held together within the same Church, churches in Covenant and those outside.
Because the Uniting Church has such a wide foundation of support and recognition, it is able to present a united front to the community and reflects a coherent expression of the Gospel. This unity was symbolised by placing a stone from a redundant chapel of each of the supporting denominations in the neighbouring villages as foundation stones of Llanfair. Llanfair’s Church Bell and Crucifix are gifts from the Cistercian monks of Caldey Island and its Icons come from the Russian Orthodox Church in Blaenau Ffestiniog and the Greek Orthodox Church in Llanelli.
More important than these symbols are the everyday opportunities for mission provided by the church’s unity. Because Llanfair is the Church of Jesus Christ on Penrhys – and because that name has also been earned by action, Llanfair serves as “our church” for the schools, council officers and workers, for the commercial life of Penrhys, voluntary organizations, for local and central government, for the business community and most important of all, for the majority of Penrhys people. The mission of the church is a day to day presence and action.
Llanfair is a Welcoming Church
Since its very early days Llanfair and Penrhys has welcomed visitors from all over the world.
The Council of World Mission, a world-wide family of thirty churches has been the main source of the many overseas volunteers who have played such an invaluable part in the development, and everyday life of Llanfair. Through the Council of World Mission Llanfair has also created a close relationship with the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM), and with Akany Avoko, a home for girls in Antananarivo, for many years there have been one or two volunteers from Madagascar living and serving in the community. Llanfair also welcome volunteers from Time For God (TFG) who come to Penrhys for almost a full year to leave and serve in the community. They have come from many different countries.
Alongside the support of the overseas volunteers has been Llanfair’s commitment to local and international justice and peace. This reflects an unswerving commitment to Christian Aid. Llanfair is committed to Fairtrade in all its policies and has a strong nucleus of committed local volunteers. It is noteworthy that while here, the overseas volunteers are introduced to trade justice issues.