Work has forged ahead to create a new larger ministry area – as called for by the Church in Wales 2020 Vision – in one area of Bridgend.
The parish of Laleston and Merthyr Mawr has been expanded to include Penyfai with plans being put into action to increase the already enthusiastic lay involvement in the parish.
The Rev’d Canon Edward Evans is vicar of the new parish and the Rev’d Mike Lewis his assistant curate. Edward and Michael took over responsibility formally for Penyfai at the end of last year – prior to that the two had provided cover for a year in the parish, after the previous non stipendiary (unpaid) minister had retired.
“Mike and I realised that we could handle Penyfai between us because of the size of the parish and because of the times of the services at the various churches and that is what we had been doing for the last year,” said Edward.
“What has now happened is that the arrangement that we already had, has been formalised – Penyfai is adjacent to Laleston and Merthyr Mawr and it makes sense for it to become one parish.”
As well as being vicar of Laleston, Merthyr Mawr and Penyfai, Edward is also area dean for Bridgend. His curate Mike Lewis, is a retired school teacher who has worked as a non-stipendiary minister in the parish, for the past 11 years.
“We have already developed a relationship with Penyfai, which is a small village with one church, and this relationship is now being to be built upon and developed further. There is no way that a parish that size could justify having a full time priest,” said Edward.
“What is happening in this parish is very much the way forward with the Church in Wales 2020 Vision as larger ministry areas are created and as we become more reliant on lay people to take more responsibility in various areas from taking services, to visiting the sick and taking communion to those at home.
“The Church is not just the vicar and the curate – it is the members of the church and if a parishioner visits another parishioner in need then it is the Church that is visiting. Obviously we will visit as well when necessary.
“There is an awful lot of talent out there amongst the laity and it is this talent that we need to harness. It used to be that the curate would run the local youth club or produce the parish magazine but there may well be people in the parish better suited to these sort of roles.
“The way forward is to get more lay people involved and this is happening already in places like Penyfai.”
An open meeting has already been held by the church wardens at Penyfai to discuss plans for the future.
“In Penyfai parishioners already take the lead on many things, such as buying in the communion wine, as they became used to doing things like this during their time without an incumbent. They already run many things themselves including a very popular knit-and-natter group that meet up regularly to make things like scarves for local charities,” said Edward.
“While in Laleston, the parishioners here are also very active and run events such as the village fete. Every year Father Christmas distributes selection boxes to local children – which is the church’s way of putting something back into the community.”
Already a joint service of worship has been planned involving the three churches and will be held at the new Penyfai Church in Wales Primary School. Other steps include the creation of one newsletter for the new ministry area and one website instead of two.
“It is still going to be a quite a slow process and we must be careful that it is a merger not a takeover but things are already beginning to gel,” added Edward.
There are now two lay readers in the parish, one at Penyfai and another at Merthyr Mawr.
The photo shows Father Christmas at St David’s, Laleston, distributing selection boxes.