Churches loss a great shame

IT WAS sad to read of another traditional church, St Mary’s, Malpas, experiencing financial problems. Several weeks ago I wrote of the upsurge of the modern style Victory Church in Cwmbran, where money seems no problem. This Americanised showbiz, razzmatazz type of religion draws the people in, but I have found it rather superficial.

I recently paid several visits to a tiny rural Methodist church in Gwehelog, near Usk, well kept by local volunteers, here with a fully ordained minister a congregation of about 20 max (unlike 300 at Victory) we had a Cymanfa Ganu, a Whitsunday service with tea and cakes and there is a forthcoming Sankey hymn singing morning which attracts visitors from all over Britain, even America.

The simplicity of these services seem so right and sincere, no crowd hysteria, if we should ever lose these traditional chapels and churches it would be a terrible shame.

R. John Smith, Greenwood Ave, West Pontnewydd, Cwmbran

Comments (12)

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12:34am Fri 22 Jun 12

iandfox says...

I fail to see how a church can have financial problems,they are as a whole one of if not the richest institutions in the world but insist on begging disillusioned and deluded people for their hard earned cash.
I fail to see how a church can have financial problems,they are as a whole one of if not the richest institutions in the world but insist on begging disillusioned and deluded people for their hard earned cash. iandfox
  • Score: 0

1:23am Sat 23 Jun 12

Bertie_Bassett says...

Not so very long ago "R John Smith" was giving the oposite opinion. He then was saying that a chapel in some valley or other was under threat of closure and that local people signed a petition to keep it open. Some 7,000 people signed the petition, and R John Smith scoffed that if a small percentage of those had attended then the church would not have been under threat of closure. He then compared it to the work of Victory Church in Cwmbran, he gave such a glowing reference that Victory Church had it on the home page of their website and name checked R John in the process.

Will he ever make up his mind, my guess is he is hard at work writing next weeks letter no doubt slagging off Gary Barlow and his tax evasion. "More Tea Vicar"........
Not so very long ago "R John Smith" was giving the oposite opinion. He then was saying that a chapel in some valley or other was under threat of closure and that local people signed a petition to keep it open. Some 7,000 people signed the petition, and R John Smith scoffed that if a small percentage of those had attended then the church would not have been under threat of closure. He then compared it to the work of Victory Church in Cwmbran, he gave such a glowing reference that Victory Church had it on the home page of their website and name checked R John in the process. Will he ever make up his mind, my guess is he is hard at work writing next weeks letter no doubt slagging off Gary Barlow and his tax evasion. "More Tea Vicar"........ Bertie_Bassett
  • Score: 0

1:05pm Sat 23 Jun 12

Surfer-dude says...

So do we point the finger of blame at other churches, when the truth is the church was obviously not engaging it's congregation to the point that people stopped attending.

It's the attitude that church is all about drinking tea and eating cakes while we all sing cwm by ar around a camp fire whilst waving a tambourine that's killing churches all round the country.

Our mission is simple spread the gospel message not sit around in a members only club eating cake.

If a church is preaching the gospel, people are getting saved, the church is growing fast, then it should be applauded not condemned.

It is a shame that these little chapels are closing, but your missing the point massively. The building is not important, the church is the people not a building.

But hey, I bet it's falling on deaf ears Mr Smith, enjoy your earl grey and slice of maderia.
So do we point the finger of blame at other churches, when the truth is the church was obviously not engaging it's congregation to the point that people stopped attending. It's the attitude that church is all about drinking tea and eating cakes while we all sing cwm by ar around a camp fire whilst waving a tambourine that's killing churches all round the country. Our mission is simple spread the gospel message not sit around in a members only club eating cake. If a church is preaching the gospel, people are getting saved, the church is growing fast, then it should be applauded not condemned. It is a shame that these little chapels are closing, but your missing the point massively. The building is not important, the church is the people not a building. But hey, I bet it's falling on deaf ears Mr Smith, enjoy your earl grey and slice of maderia. Surfer-dude
  • Score: 1

2:15pm Sat 23 Jun 12

Sparkle007 says...

Of course it's a shame to see smaller churches closing, but let's put some perspective on things, what difference does it really make to the church as a body if a building lease expires? 'The church' is more than a building, it's the people that meet! Jesus didn't have a plush building to preach in, he did it on a mountain! And He didn't get the attention of one or two people, but crowds in their thousands!

Besides, I did a bit of research myself, and discovered that when Victory church was first founded, they did not have a building at all! They gathered at Pontypool Active Living Centre! Hardly a quaint setting! See, if churches have clear vision and a measure of faith, they can continue, even when bricks and mortar fail them.
Victory church was birthed out of one man's vision and obedience, but, no man is an island, and as the team expanded, so did the congregation. Which is when they found by favour, the location they're at today on Greenforge Way.

It was once said, 'if you really want something, you'll find a way, if you don't, you'll find an excuse.' the church knows THE way, the only way, so there's little room for excuses, lack of buildings, or otherwise.

To say that smaller churches are more sincere because of no 'crowd hysteria' is completely unfounded though. Wherever Jesus preached, there was a crowd!! Surely, this should be the same today- where the gospel is preached, people will gather!

Instead of criticising large churches and sympathising with small ones, let's get back to the main point. Why is their a decline in church attendance resulting in church closures? Maybe, it has absolutely nothing to do with the building itself, but rather a crisis of leadership within the church! Leaders are only as strong as the weakest one following. Maybe the focus needs to shift off account watching and building leases and move to strengthening, equipping and encouraging people!
Of course it's a shame to see smaller churches closing, but let's put some perspective on things, what difference does it really make to the church as a body if a building lease expires? 'The church' is more than a building, it's the people that meet! Jesus didn't have a plush building to preach in, he did it on a mountain! And He didn't get the attention of one or two people, but crowds in their thousands! Besides, I did a bit of research myself, and discovered that when Victory church was first founded, they did not have a building at all! They gathered at Pontypool Active Living Centre! Hardly a quaint setting! See, if churches have clear vision and a measure of faith, they can continue, even when bricks and mortar fail them. Victory church was birthed out of one man's vision and obedience, but, no man is an island, and as the team expanded, so did the congregation. Which is when they found by favour, the location they're at today on Greenforge Way. It was once said, 'if you really want something, you'll find a way, if you don't, you'll find an excuse.' the church knows THE way, the only way, so there's little room for excuses, lack of buildings, or otherwise. To say that smaller churches are more sincere because of no 'crowd hysteria' is completely unfounded though. Wherever Jesus preached, there was a crowd!! Surely, this should be the same today- where the gospel is preached, people will gather! Instead of criticising large churches and sympathising with small ones, let's get back to the main point. Why is their a decline in church attendance resulting in church closures? Maybe, it has absolutely nothing to do with the building itself, but rather a crisis of leadership within the church! Leaders are only as strong as the weakest one following. Maybe the focus needs to shift off account watching and building leases and move to strengthening, equipping and encouraging people! Sparkle007
  • Score: 1

3:02pm Sat 23 Jun 12

Surfer-dude says...

Interesting to read mr Smiths previous letter that was also printed in the argus which totally contradicts this one...

EVERY week in the South Wales Argus, we read of local chapels and churches closing down because of declining congregations, lack of money or falling into disrepair.

The latest is Christchurch Aberbeeg, but it is pointless 700 people signing a petition to keep it open if only 10 can be bothered to attend the church.

In many cases, if the churches do not fall down, they are turned into mosques or warehouses.

In Cwmbran the reverse has happened, a converted ex-convict, Pastor Richard Taylor, has converted a factory building into the Victory church, a modern independent Pentecostal Church, drawing a weekly congregation of 300 plus.



With modern musical backing to hymns, good sound amplification and TV screens, delivering hour-long inspiring sermons it is described as awesome by those who attend.

It seems someone has got it right while traditionalists are stuck in the past.

R John Smith, Greenwood Avenue, West Pontnewydd, Cwmbran

Make your mind up fella!!
Interesting to read mr Smiths previous letter that was also printed in the argus which totally contradicts this one... EVERY week in the South Wales Argus, we read of local chapels and churches closing down because of declining congregations, lack of money or falling into disrepair. The latest is Christchurch Aberbeeg, but it is pointless 700 people signing a petition to keep it open if only 10 can be bothered to attend the church. In many cases, if the churches do not fall down, they are turned into mosques or warehouses. In Cwmbran the reverse has happened, a converted ex-convict, Pastor Richard Taylor, has converted a factory building into the Victory church, a modern independent Pentecostal Church, drawing a weekly congregation of 300 plus. With modern musical backing to hymns, good sound amplification and TV screens, delivering hour-long inspiring sermons it is described as awesome by those who attend. It seems someone has got it right while traditionalists are stuck in the past. R John Smith, Greenwood Avenue, West Pontnewydd, Cwmbran Make your mind up fella!! Surfer-dude
  • Score: 0

5:16pm Sat 23 Jun 12

Piinkee_X3 says...

First I would like to point out that Mr Smith a couple of weeks ago you was giving positive comments about Victory Church and how they are doing something right. And now this week is the opposite?
It is a shame to see that churches are in decline and most often than not they close down. However you can not put the blame on another church.
I have done some of my own research on Victory Church and have found that clearly they are doing something right as they have a large congregation and there is a buzz about the place, people are excited to go! This is a good thing.
We should never judge a book by its cover, and somehow I don't think Victory church is a 'rich' church by no means whatsoever.
Maybe if people stopped looking at other churches and concentrated on their own something might change and they would see growth!
First I would like to point out that Mr Smith a couple of weeks ago you was giving positive comments about Victory Church and how they are doing something right. And now this week is the opposite? It is a shame to see that churches are in decline and most often than not they close down. However you can not put the blame on another church. I have done some of my own research on Victory Church and have found that clearly they are doing something right as they have a large congregation and there is a buzz about the place, people are excited to go! This is a good thing. We should never judge a book by its cover, and somehow I don't think Victory church is a 'rich' church by no means whatsoever. Maybe if people stopped looking at other churches and concentrated on their own something might change and they would see growth! Piinkee_X3
  • Score: 0

12:06pm Mon 25 Jun 12

Soup Dragon says...

Interesting to read the comments by Mr Smith. I must admit it caused me to chuckle when he compared Victory Church's 300 plus crowds and "Mass hysteria" to sitting around having tea and scones, singing Sankey hymns every now and then!

Let's really be honest here, was the Church meant to be a scone eating, tea drinking, hymn singing fellowship group or was it meant to be a means of making an impact in society by reaching people, meeting needs and bringing hope into a hopeless World. For a more detailed account of what Church should be like take a look at Acts chapters 1-4 in the Bible.

For those who are accustomed to nice little traditional, quiet, comfortable services in tiny, rural Chapels, Victory Church may appear to be "Americanized showbiz razzmatazz type religion". But for the 300 plus congregation it is more than that. I have spoken personally to people who have had their lives radically changed for the better since attending Victory Church. One young man gave a detailed account of how he had turned over a new leaf or in his words "Been born again". his life had formerly been one of drink, drugs and violence. Now he says his kids have a real mam and Dad! If victory Church had substituted reaching the lost for a "Cymanfa Ganu" then people like this in our locality would remain in a mess. What would Gwehelog methodist Church do if half a dozen drug addicts rolled up at their doorstep!

Let's stop criticizing successful, growing Churches who are reaching out and embracing the lost and broken in our society and instead get behind them and pray for them. This will achieve a lot more than finger pointing.

You made the comment "Where money seems no problem". Yet Victory Church have not even been able to pay a pastor and the most part of the congregation are unemployed! Never judge a book by it's cover!

The funny thing in all of this is that I am told that in Victory church they love the old hymns and sing them in every service and that the preaching is Biblical, sound, exciting and inspiring! Why don't you just go along and experience it yourself Mr Smith. you might enjoy it!
Interesting to read the comments by Mr Smith. I must admit it caused me to chuckle when he compared Victory Church's 300 plus crowds and "Mass hysteria" to sitting around having tea and scones, singing Sankey hymns every now and then! Let's really be honest here, was the Church meant to be a scone eating, tea drinking, hymn singing fellowship group or was it meant to be a means of making an impact in society by reaching people, meeting needs and bringing hope into a hopeless World. For a more detailed account of what Church should be like take a look at Acts chapters 1-4 in the Bible. For those who are accustomed to nice little traditional, quiet, comfortable services in tiny, rural Chapels, Victory Church may appear to be "Americanized showbiz razzmatazz type religion". But for the 300 plus congregation it is more than that. I have spoken personally to people who have had their lives radically changed for the better since attending Victory Church. One young man gave a detailed account of how he had turned over a new leaf or in his words "Been born again". his life had formerly been one of drink, drugs and violence. Now he says his kids have a real mam and Dad! If victory Church had substituted reaching the lost for a "Cymanfa Ganu" then people like this in our locality would remain in a mess. What would Gwehelog methodist Church do if half a dozen drug addicts rolled up at their doorstep! Let's stop criticizing successful, growing Churches who are reaching out and embracing the lost and broken in our society and instead get behind them and pray for them. This will achieve a lot more than finger pointing. You made the comment "Where money seems no problem". Yet Victory Church have not even been able to pay a pastor and the most part of the congregation are unemployed! Never judge a book by it's cover! The funny thing in all of this is that I am told that in Victory church they love the old hymns and sing them in every service and that the preaching is Biblical, sound, exciting and inspiring! Why don't you just go along and experience it yourself Mr Smith. you might enjoy it! Soup Dragon
  • Score: 1

2:55pm Mon 25 Jun 12

Paul R James says...

I think all these comment miss-understand the nature of this particular church. I've have the privilege of speaking to Rev.David Parfitt on several occasions and have no doubt he and St Mary’s really are bringing the Gospel to the locale.

My view is; while being part of the Anglican Church brings with it the ‘tea and sandwiches’ stereotype, this is still a very real and living church, albeit encumbered by a more traditional heritage and listed building to meet in.

As someone who was brought up in and still a non-traditional church, meeting in modern buildings etc. I’ve learned to appreciate the need for these old churches, as they have stood as a testament to our heritage.
I think all these comment miss-understand the nature of this particular church. I've have the privilege of speaking to Rev.David Parfitt on several occasions and have no doubt he and St Mary’s really are bringing the Gospel to the locale. My view is; while being part of the Anglican Church brings with it the ‘tea and sandwiches’ stereotype, this is still a very real and living church, albeit encumbered by a more traditional heritage and listed building to meet in. As someone who was brought up in and still a non-traditional church, meeting in modern buildings etc. I’ve learned to appreciate the need for these old churches, as they have stood as a testament to our heritage. Paul R James
  • Score: 0

9:58pm Mon 25 Jun 12

Soup Dragon says...

In response to the comments of Mr James, I too agree that there is a need for the old Churches. it is right to honour, respect and hold in high esteem those who have endeavoured to preserve and contend for the faith throughout the years.

I am not in a position to say whether or not the Methodist Church in Usk bring the Gospel to the locality or not. The more Churches there are the better I say! But when people say that the new, modern style Churches like Victory are Americanized and razzmatazz styled it makes me wonder what the real reasons for these comments are. It's sad to see people portraying this new Church in a negative and suspicious way.

If another Church is successful in bringing people in then surely that is a good thing that should please other Churches and cause them to rejoice!

The strange thing in all this is that Victory Church actually still hold to old traditional ways as well is blending them with the new and contemporary. The congregation is full of men and women of all ages including many from traditional Church backgrounds. The messages on the Victory Church website seem to very Biblical with sound, orthodox Christian teaching. at the end of the day shouldn't this be the true test?

If a pub or a night club opens up down the road no one bats an eyelid but isn't it funny that when a new church opens up everyone is up in arms!

I wish these unfounded comments and judgements made by other people who haven't actually experienced Victory church would cease. Why don't they just go there one Sunday and see what it's truly like.
In response to the comments of Mr James, I too agree that there is a need for the old Churches. it is right to honour, respect and hold in high esteem those who have endeavoured to preserve and contend for the faith throughout the years. I am not in a position to say whether or not the Methodist Church in Usk bring the Gospel to the locality or not. The more Churches there are the better I say! But when people say that the new, modern style Churches like Victory are Americanized and razzmatazz styled it makes me wonder what the real reasons for these comments are. It's sad to see people portraying this new Church in a negative and suspicious way. If another Church is successful in bringing people in then surely that is a good thing that should please other Churches and cause them to rejoice! The strange thing in all this is that Victory Church actually still hold to old traditional ways as well is blending them with the new and contemporary. The congregation is full of men and women of all ages including many from traditional Church backgrounds. The messages on the Victory Church website seem to very Biblical with sound, orthodox Christian teaching. at the end of the day shouldn't this be the true test? If a pub or a night club opens up down the road no one bats an eyelid but isn't it funny that when a new church opens up everyone is up in arms! I wish these unfounded comments and judgements made by other people who haven't actually experienced Victory church would cease. Why don't they just go there one Sunday and see what it's truly like. Soup Dragon
  • Score: 1

5:51pm Tue 26 Jun 12

Paul R James says...

Mr Dragon, ;-)
I have in no way criticized Victory Church, I have several friends who go there, and a big fan of the more contemporary style of worship.
I was merely defending St Mary's from the being lumped in with the stereotypical, “Church meant to be a scone eating, tea drinking, hymn singing fellowship group” which it isn’t, but it is “a means of making an impact in society by reaching people, meeting needs and bringing hope into a hopeless World.”
Albeit, within the confines of a more traditional veneer.

Although I live near St Mary’s, probably with it’s parish. I don’t attend there, but can’t fail to be impressed when my 10 year old child comes home with a smile on his face because Rev Parfitt has given a lesson or taken assembly, and chatting with my son discovered that Rev. Parfitt doesn’t compromise the message.

Scones, tea and hymn singing may be the style, but the Gospel is preached and this church does make an impact.
Mr Dragon, ;-) I have in no way criticized Victory Church, I have several friends who go there, and a big fan of the more contemporary style of worship. I was merely defending St Mary's from the being lumped in with the stereotypical, “Church meant to be a scone eating, tea drinking, hymn singing fellowship group” which it isn’t, but it is “a means of making an impact in society by reaching people, meeting needs and bringing hope into a hopeless World.” Albeit, within the confines of a more traditional veneer. Although I live near St Mary’s, probably with it’s parish. I don’t attend there, but can’t fail to be impressed when my 10 year old child comes home with a smile on his face because Rev Parfitt has given a lesson or taken assembly, and chatting with my son discovered that Rev. Parfitt doesn’t compromise the message. Scones, tea and hymn singing may be the style, but the Gospel is preached and this church does make an impact. Paul R James
  • Score: 0

12:09pm Thu 28 Jun 12

Matty639 says...

Is it at all possible to comprehend that there are just less relgious people around these days? I for one am not the least bit religious and neither are any of my friends. It is entirely possible that the area that St Marys supports has just lost interest? It could be just a sign of the times. I hope the building remains looked after if not a church anymore, might we even see it on Grand Designs in a few years ;-).
Is it at all possible to comprehend that there are just less relgious people around these days? I for one am not the least bit religious and neither are any of my friends. It is entirely possible that the area that St Marys supports has just lost interest? It could be just a sign of the times. I hope the building remains looked after if not a church anymore, might we even see it on Grand Designs in a few years ;-). Matty639
  • Score: 0

12:51pm Thu 28 Jun 12

Paul R James says...

St Mary's current financial delema is not of its own making, but an unexpected £70k vat bill repairs, generously invented by the westminster Government
St Mary's current financial delema is not of its own making, but an unexpected £70k vat bill repairs, generously invented by the westminster Government Paul R James
  • Score: 0

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