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Last Updated: Friday, 27 June, 2003, 08:33 GMT 09:33 UK
Congregation outgrows church
Penrallt Baptist Church
The congregation has outgrown the Penrallt building
A north Wales church is bucking the trend by searching for bigger premises to accommodate its growing congregation.

Penrallt Baptist Church in Bangor is in the process of buying larger premises in the town because the building that has been its home for the past hundred years has become too small.

The church currently has to meet at a local school hall on Sunday mornings so that its 200 worshippers can fit in.

As churches across the country are fighting to stay open, Penrallt is hoping to go ahead with a 600,000 project to buy and adapt the redundant Presbyterian chapel, Twr Gwyn, in Upper Bangor.

It is a flexible mix of the best of modern and the best of the traditional with a little Celtic style
Andrew March, deacon

"We have basically outgrown Penrallt, which holds around 140 people," says church deacon Andrew March from Deiniolen.

"We are constantly at full saturation and the morning services are particularly well attended.

"We are now meeting at Ysgol Tryfan in the mornings, but still holding evening services at Penrallt.

"I think one of the attractive things about Penrallt is our style of worship and the fact that we are inclusive.

"It is a flexible mix of the best of modern and the best of the traditional with a little Celtic style and some bilingual worship too.

"We run a Sunday school for the younger people in the church and we have a long standing practice of including the students from the university."

The chapel was established in 1874 and has a wide catchment area - it attracts worshipers from as far as Amlwch on Anglesey and Deganwy in Conwy.
Gwyneth Brindley
Gwyneth Brindley has seen many changes at Penrallt since childhood

Gwyneth Brindley is a church organist and has been a member at Penrallt all her life as three generations of her family have lived in the house next door since the 1920s.

"The fact that we have modernized the inside could have contributed to the church's success.

"The pews were taken out some years ago and chairs put in instead.

"It's more flexible and maybe less intimidating for people who are not used to attending a church.

"I've seen big changes over the years. There is more emphasis on song now while it used to be the traditional hymn-sermon-hymn pattern.

"Maybe that attracts people - but we are not happy-clappers!" she added.

The old church organ was replaced by a keyboard some years ago and the church makes use of young members who play electric guitars, violins and wind instruments.

The words of hymns and songs are also projected on the wall.

Twr Gwyn is a majestic 350-seater grade two listed building in Upper Bangor.

If Penrallt succeed in taking it over, they will need to make drastic alterations to the inside.

Twr Gwyn Church
Twr Gwyn is a grade II listed building

"We want to create an adult baptistery there, remove the pews, install underfloor heating and make it a fully modern auditorium complete with PA system and include a community centre as part of the building," said Mr March.

"We are waiting for CADW to respond and will also be applying for Assembly funding."

The intention is to sell the Penrallt building, which has served the congregation well for more than a century, to the Welsh Evangelical Church.

"I am glad we are moving to bigger premises," said Ms Brindley.

"But I am also pleased that this place will remain a place of worship."


SEE ALSO:
Churches face closure threat
24 Jun 03  |  Southern Counties
Congregation wins chapel fight
23 May 03  |  North East Wales
New building for congregation
31 Mar 03  |  England


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