Hope finds a home in Tonypandy
With church buildings closing up and down the Valleys, a Tonypandy church is bucking the trend. Hope Church Rhondda (www.hopechurchrhondda.org.uk) has successfully bought and refurbished a new community hub on Dunraven Street, where they will begin to meet and serve the local community in January 2017. This dynamic faith community has been meeting in the town’s Bethel chapel for the past three years.
With an average age of 25, the congregation is made up mainly of Tonypandy residents who have plans to use this new centre to continue running a distribution point for the Rhondda Foodbank as well as youth and children's work. A range of other initiatives are in the pipeline, including toddler groups, after school clubs and other community events.
Church Pastor, Ben Franks, 28 and a Cardiff boy originally but now living in Tonypandy, said: 'we have been meeting in an old Chapel building with pews and an organ for the last few years, and whilst it's been an incredible blessing, we're ready to be in a new home that better fits the modern church we are.'
As church attendance across Wales has been in decline, this relatively new congregation is growing, and attracting a young age profile with it. Known for their Nativity Photo booth each year at Tonypandy Christmas Market, the church is looking forward to moving their guitars and drums to a venue more fitting with their modern style.
Hope’s new home used to be a disused charity shop in the town’s old Co-op precinct. Having significantly invested in refitting and modernising the building, the church is looking forward to using it to benefit local projects and the wider community.
Ben Franks said: 'there are lots of traditional chapels and churches across the valley, perhaps appealing to an older generation. Our hope is that this new venue will be a welcoming location for a younger demographic to explore the message of Jesus' death and resurrection, which has totally changed our lives'. One way they plan to do this is by launching an Alpha course (www.alpha.org), offering people the chance to consider the meaning of life and explore the claims of Christianity.
Hope Church meets at 4.30 on Sunday afternoons and offers a warm welcome to everybody; young or old! If you are interested in using the space, or the church can support you in any way, please contact the office on 01443 442635 or get in touch through Facebook: www.facebook.com/hopechurchrhondda.