BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 July 2006, 16:27 GMT 17:27 UK
Villagers get a prayer with pint
Dexter Moffat and the Rev Marian Barge
Services are conducted in the pub by the Rev Marian Barge
Those seeking spiritual guidance at a south Wales village can experience another kind of spirit - because the church is also the local pub.

The Islwyn Inn in Wyllie near Pontllanfraith has doubled as a place of worship since the Rev Marian Barge became the village deacon.

She contacted the owners of the pub when she realised there was no meeting place for Christian worship.

Rev Barge said she does not mind if people use the bar during a service.

"We usually keep the bar closed during a service," she said.

"But if someone walked in with a pint in their hand it wouldn't worry me after all Jesus used to go into the inns because that's where the people were.

"And that's where the people are today - you have to go to them.

"The pub and the church used to go hand in hand and it seems like it's slowly going back that way," she said.

The Islwyn Inn, Wyllie
The pub is a former miners' institute

The Rev Barge, who is priested in September, added: "Today we've got to go where the people are. I can see we'll be having services in supermarkets before long because we have got to find the people."

Although she does not conduct a regular Sunday service at the pub, major festivals such as Easter and harvest are celebrated there.

"The pub used to be the old miners' institute and it had a church and school and library all under one roof," she said.

"But once the pit closed, so did the institute and everything that went with it."

When she first took up the post, she said she would walk in the fields with worshippers in the village to pray.

Pub services

But after a while she contacted the owners of the pub Penny and Dexter Moffat to ask if they would let her hold services there.

"We had no problem with that at all," said Mr Dexter whose ancestor Robert Moffat was a missionary in Africa who married Dr Livingstone's daughter.

Mrs Moffat added: "I thought it was a good idea because I can't get to church on a Sunday because it's our busiest day."

The couple who are now semi-retired from the pub said their son Robert who is now in charge of the business is happy for church services to be held there.

The services are held in the restaurant part of the pub which used to be the school.

Although the tables and chairs are not moved to form a traditional church aisle, the Rev Barge does bring her own mobile altar and a keyboard for the hymns.

"The pub and the church are the heart of the community and with this, that's what's coming back," she added.

Church in a pub opens its doors
05 Jan 06 |  Southern Counties
'Let there be light' says vicar
13 Dec 05 |  South West Wales

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific