The History of the Ss Peter and Paul Windows

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Andrew Griffiths, a former chorister at Ss Peter & Paul Abercanaid, tells us the history of the stained glass windows now housed in the new Worship Centre. Thank you, Andrew. 

“The history of the two stained glass windows depicting St Peter and St Paul, and now installed in the rededicated church of Ss Peter & Paul in Abercanaid, goes back to the early 1960s. They have ties with my grandmother Gwyneth Symonds who lived in Cardiff Street, Abercanaid and who was a staunch member of the congregation. 

The windows were made by J Wippell & Co Ltd in Exeter and are of outstanding quality and craftsmanship. They were commissioned in 1964/5 by my American ancestors Forrest Williams Snr of Chicago and his sister Vera Riggs of California. Forrest’s parents William John Williams and Mary Ellen Williams lived in the parish, in Old Penyard, and when Forrest was just a baby, the family emigrated to the USA where Vera was born. William John Williams and Gwyneth Symonds’ father were, I understand, cousins. 

The window depicting St Paul was given by Forrest Snr and Vera in memory of their parents. 

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The window depicting St Peter was given in memory of my grandmother, Gwyneth, by my grandfather Leonard Symonds, a member of the choir of Ss Peter and Paul, and our family. 

Both windows were installed behind the font in the “old” church in 1965 and there is a photo of me, then a chorister, standing by them. 

The windows were removed from the “old” church after it was made redundant in 2009. They have been lovingly stored and subsequently prepared by Tim Lewis, Glantawe Studios, and are now presented in English oak backlit cases and feature in the sanctuary of the new Worship Centre. It was a privilege to be invited to stand at the altar at the rededication ceremony; the two pictures are taken 53 years apart.

If you ever visit the church of Ss Peter & Paul, take a close look at the quality and detailed craftsmanship of the windows and of the dedication inscriptions. The windows link Abercanaid with Chicago, California, and in more recent times Austin (Texas), Pensecola (Florida) and Stamford (Connecticut) where cousins of my generation now live.” 

Andrew Griffiths

A Joyful Licensing at Merthyr Tydfil Christ Church

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On the 9th October 2018 Reverend Mark Prevett was licensed by Bishop June as the Priest in Charge of Merthyr Tydfil Christ Church whilst remaining Priest in Charge of Merthyr Tydfil St David and Abercanaid. It was a very enjoyable service with a large number of the congregations from both parishes turning out to support this new beginning and to listen to Bishop June sharing her aspirations for a Diocese that is ‘up to something’. We pray, with her, that in this place we can; ‘Tell a Joyful Story’, “Grow the Kingdom of God’ and ‘Build our Capacity for Good’. 

Who said never work with children and animals?!

They say that you should never work with children or animals. I’ve just found out why - ‘cause if you do you have the best fun ever!!!

We have just had a weekend playing, worshipping and praying with children and animals and it has been an incredibly uplifting experience. St Tydfil’s has been full of many different sounds from singing and cheering, to food and drink being consumed, to a barked greeting and the silence of an ever watchful bearded dragon. It has been ALIVE and it has left those who participated feeling alive and thankful for all of God’s creation and His gifts to each and every one of us.

Special thanks to Rev Charlotte and her team who worked so hard to make this all come together, to Hayden at Nanty-y-Coed Farm and Alan from Owls 4 You for providing the icing on the cake.

See our Facebook page for lots more photos.

A Letter from Fr Mark

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Fr Mark writes an open letter about his appointment to Merthyr Tydfil Christ Church and the many opportunites and potential this brings to ministry in Merthyr Tydfil.

"Most of you are, I suspect, by now aware that a couple of weeks ago I was appointed as Priest-in-Charge of the above parish as well as remaining Priest-in-Charge of Merthyr Tydfil St David and Abercanaid. It will mean that I am half-time in both parishes for a while but will, hopefully, be enabled by some lovely colleagues in both parishes as well as our curate Charlotte. I need to be very honest with all concerned and say that I did seek this appointment in the genuine belief that it was the right solution at this time. I am anticipating that it will mean an increased work load for a period of time but I am very excited about the potential for us all to be working together for the future of God’s kingdom in this place. Each parish has a lot to offer and they can certainly receive from each other. The journey of learning and growing, accepting and embracing, challenging and adapting will be refreshing for us all. It is hoped that in the not too distant future we will be able to invite a colleague to join us working across the whole area bringing new insight and expertise to our ministry in Merthyr Tydfil and its surroundings. That is very much in God’s hands, but on earth the Area Dean, the Archdeacon and the Bishop are very much behind our thinking. They are very encouraging as well.

There are some adjustments that will have to take place in the very near future. Our Sunday Morning Service times will have to change for some. No one likes change but if we accept these things and think not of ourselves but of the future of the church, good things will be enabled to grow. There are two reasons that we need this change. One is purely practical; in order to cover clergy holidays / sickness one clergy person always needs to be able to cover two services on a Sunday morning. The best times for this seem to be 9.30am and 11.00am. The second is that when clergy are not on holidays or absent for other reasons it provides what I call ‘room for manoeuvre’. Clergy have time to do other things that help the church and us to grow. One example would be that a clergy person could go out with the Young Disciples at the Quar. Another would be to run a Café style church in the afternoon. And yet another would be to run some training initiative on a Sunday afternoon or evening. In Merthyr Tydfil St David and Abercanaid we have already experienced the change that having two clergy with lighter workloads can make; how we have been taken forward so far and so fast in Charlotte’s first year. Imagine what might be achievable with yet another person in full time ministry.

It will be just one month short of my having served here for five years when I am licensed to Merthyr Tydfil Christ Church and in those five years I have learnt a lot and made quite a number of mistakes. I shall continue on both those paths – learning and making mistakes, but in the long run, if we hold one another before God, forgiving, forgetting and seeking His will His Kingdom will grow. All I ask for is your patience and your prayers for all who are involved in doing their best to make this situation really work for the best.

Thank you."

Bishop June will license Fr Mark at Christ Church Cyfarthfa on Tuesday 9th October at 7.30pm. All are welcome.

Bishop June asks ‘Quo Vadis?’ - ‘Where are ‘we’ going?’

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‘Quo Vadis?’ Peter asks Jesus on the road as he flees Rome. ‘Where are you going?’ ‘I am going to Rome to be crucified again’ replies Jesus. And from that encounter Peter gains the courage to continue his ministry and returns to Rome.

‘Quo Vadis?’ is the question that Bishop June asked of us at the joyful rededication service at Ss Peter and Paul’s church in Abercanaid on July 11th 2018. We can certainly do no better than Peter following his encounter with Christ on the road from Rome. We can have the courage to continue our ministry to this area. The building itself is ‘fit for purpose’. Pretty well any purpose we choose for it. It is each one of us that must receive a fillip from the achievement of a long-held vision that gives us a multipurpose premises for the 21st Century. God can use this building, through us, to grow His Kingdom in the community.

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Our Open Day on 22nd September gives us an opportunity to show off and to share our vison for the future. This is a vision that can be seen in the practical, as in the car park we will have, but also in the development of the spiritual, with the building being used for groups that come to meet and then to pray. For me there is this lovely image of the worship space, the God space, being right alongside any and every activity in the community space.

This then, perhaps, answers the question that Bishop June asked of us. ‘Quo Vadis?’ - ‘Where are ‘we’ going?’ Walking, with courage, alongside our God in all he is doing in this place.

A Wonderful and Blessed Ordination Day!

 Bishop June, Ordinants and Clergy at Llandaff Cathedral 

Saturday 30th June 2018 was a very special day for the three new deacons and five new priests who were ordained by Bishop June at Llandaff Cathedral. Our very own Charlotte Rushton was amongst them and here she tells us about her day in her own words.

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“Following three peaceful days on retreat at Llangasty, the morning of Saturday 30th June had arrived. I woke at dawn - because who would want to sleep on such an exciting day - before departing Llangasty for a McDonald’s breakfast! After filling our tummies, we headed to Llandaff and to the Bishop's palace. Bishop June greeted us with coffee and flapjacks, and we had some quiet time with our families before the legal requirements were met. Everyone’s family went to the cathedral while we took our Canonical Oath of Obedience to the Bishop and received our licence to officiate.

As the service started, I remember looking into the cathedral from the steps and feeling in awe of both the beauty of the place and the gravity of what was about to happen. As I took the long walk down the aisle to the nave, all I remember is seeing the smiling faces of the people of this parish, my family and friends. The ordination service was beautiful and emotional. I came away feeling blessed by God and given a clear ministry to fulfil by the Bishop.

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The evening saw the joyous celebration of my first Eucharist at St Tydfil’s Church. I honoured the Anglo Catholic tradition of this parish, while Fr Mark led us in some Evangelical worship! It was perfect. I feel blessed that the whole parish came to show their support and celebrate with me. Thank you to my friends Edward LeBrun Powell and Ian Hodges for assisting in the celebration and to the Rev Christopher Burr for his fun and challenging sermon and the kind words about me.

The day of my ordination to the priesthood was a very special day; one that will live in my memory for the rest of my life. Thank you everyone who played their part in preparing me for that moment, and for all the hard work the parish put in to make it such a special day. God bless you all in abundance.”

And God bless you too Charlotte, we are so pleased, proud and fortunate to have you in our parish.

Many thanks to MLA Photography and Mike Komor for the lovely photographs.

 

Parish Play and Pray!

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It's been a fantastic week of playing and praying in the parish, with Messy Church does Science at St Tydfil's and prayer events at St David's as part of Thy Kingdom Come, the global wave of prayer. 


Science puts the Mess in Messy Church!

  Dr Josie Parker & Dr Claire Price

Dr Josie Parker & Dr Claire Price

Messy Science was our biggest Messy Church yet, with over 60 children attending accompanied by their families, and everyone having an amazing time. It was a joint event with Swansea University Medical School, represented by Abercanaid churchwarden, Dr Claire Price, and her colleague and fellow STEM Ambassador, Dr Josie Parker. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics and is a global initiative to inspire and educate children and young people in these subjects. Dr Claire explains "I love science and really wanted to try and bring that joy and enthusiasm to a wider audience. What better place than Messy Church to do that? So I spoke to Rev Charlotte about a potential collaboration and the rest, as they say, is history. We wanted to share that science and religion are not mutually exclusive - science is amazing but doesn't mean there is no space for God."

  Decorating volcano bottles! 

Decorating volcano bottles! 

The crafts undertaken during Messy Church does Science were a showcase for God's vision for us, in that we are all unique. Three simple white powders; sugar, bicarbonate of soda and cornflour, look similar to the naked eye, but each possess properties that make them unique, like each of us. When you look at each powder under a microscope you can see that under magnification they look very different. We then used sugar to make a sweet treat by decorating yummy biscuits. Snowflakes were made and decorated as no two snowflakes are the same, they are unique like us. Cornflour was mixed with water to produce Oobleck slime! And finally, bottles were decorated to make volcanoes, which were erupted using bicarbonate of soda and vinegar.

  Fr Mark, Dawn Bowden AM and Rev Charlotte

Fr Mark, Dawn Bowden AM and Rev Charlotte

With songs, stories and a picnic to top things off, it was a really special event, and we were pleased to welcome Assembly member Dawn Bowden and Martin Eaglestone, Welsh Policy Officer for Labour, who  came along to see the action and also to support Rev Charlotte as she prepares for her ordination as the first female priest in the Parish of Merthyr Tydfil.

We hope you enjoy the photographs and don't forget the next Messy Church is at St Tydfil's on 7th July from 2-4pm and it's called 'Fish caught in the net'.


Thy Kingdom Come

Our prayer events at St David's were part of the Thy Kingdom Come global prayer movement, which invites Christians around the world to pray between Ascension and Pentecost for more people to come to know Jesus Christ. The movement began as an invitation from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in 2016 to the Church of England and has grown into an international and ecumenical call to prayer.

  A quiet moment of prayer

A quiet moment of prayer

  Paper aeroplane prayers

Paper aeroplane prayers

As well as a service for the National Day of Prayer for the Police, the parish also held 24 hours of prayer for Merthyr Tydfil over two days. Different prayer stations were set up and people could stay for as long or as short a time as they wished. The photographs show the Mothers' Union prayer station, the Garden of Gethsemane and paper aeroplane prayers. Churchwarden Dorothy Evans said "I went along to this today and would recommend it to anyone who hasn't already been. There was a lot of information and guidance to help with prayers and also plenty of food for thought." Thank you to everyone who attended. 

  MU prayer station

MU prayer station

  The Garden of Gethsemane

The Garden of Gethsemane

A Marvellous Messy Easter!

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What a fantastic Messy Easter was enjoyed by everyone of all ages - as our photos show! That's the secret of Messy Church - it's all-age and all-fun! From games and songs, to building the Jerusalem arch and enjoying a picnic - it all happened at Messy Easter at St Tydfil's old parish church. Thank you to everyone who attended and to our fantastic Messy Team - we couldn't do it without you.

And don't miss our next event on Saturday 12th May 2-4pm - it's Messy Church does SCIENCE! See you there! 

Vision Day and Onwards

  St Tydfil in Llandaff Cathedral    (credit  Llywelyn2000 ) 

St Tydfil in Llandaff Cathedral (credit Llywelyn2000

Fr Mark reflects on God's Vision for the parish...

Being a day filled with God it is hardly surprising that three clear things emerged from the parish vision day held at Margam Abbey on 10th February and led by Rev'd Dr Rhiannon Johnson.  

First, for each and every person there was a much better understanding of the story of Isaiah and the way the people had gone into exile, and how God, through the prophet, had ministered to them there. 

Second there was the journey to understand the different ways of being church. From the ark to the sheepfold via the ladder of perfection. 

And finally, there was the story of Merthyr Tydfil from the days of Tydfil the Martyr to today.  

These stories showed the faithfulness of God down through many centuries and helped us have an understanding of how His people’s relationship with Him and understanding of Him has developed. 

Using this information, we decided that we wanted to be a ‘sheepfold’ church. Jesus said ‘I am the Good Shepherd and my sheep know me.’ All of them know me, not just the Priest in Charge. This means that all of us should be going in and out of the sheepfold doing God’s work. Like having 106 vicars and not just one. The other side of that coin is that although the Priest in Charge has a special job, he or she is only one amongst many. 

A number of people already take on responsibilities in the church but each of us needs to encourage more people to help out, more people to witness. Each one feeling confident to share their faith in appropriate ways. At the end of the day, that’s all that Tydfil did and she has affected lives for many generations even if Merthyr has forgotten the story. 

The ‘onwards’ part is looking to our structures and making sure they encourage the maximum participation by all. Looking to create opportunities where many with varied talents can exercise those talents. Making sure that we honour the history of this place and yet providing the Gospel message in a fresh way to new generations. I call it my Tesco Theology. Tesco opens new tills when it wants to get more people through. Each of us needs to find our part in getting another ‘till’ open and another cohort of new people relating to God.

We pray for our work together as we seek further understanding of God’s Vision for Merthyr Tydfil St David and Abercanaid.  

Fr Mark