Page last updated at 16:17 GMT, Friday, 18 June 2010 17:17 UK
Pastor Dai swaps DJ decks for a pulpit
Dai Sankey
Dai Hankey found it difficult to reconcile club culture with Christianity

When it comes to the traditional image of a church minister Dai Hankey, a former drum and bass DJ, is refreshingly nonconformist.

Dai is pastor of Hill City Church on the Trevethin estate near Pontypool.

He was living and working in Cardiff but moved back to Trevethin two years ago, feeling that God was calling him to set up a church there.

The church initially met in Dai's house but as numbers have increased they now meet at Cold Barn Farm youth centre.

Dai, 33, grew up in Pontypool but moved to Cardiff when he went to university.

Whilst he was living in Cardiff he became interested in skateboarding, rapping and the club scene in the city.

Dai lived and worked in the St Mellons area of Cardiff as a church youth worker.

He was involved in the youth bus project which turned a double decker bus into a mobile youth club working with young people in St Mellons, getting them off the streets and helping to keep them out of trouble.

Dai Hankey
Dai had previously worked as a drum and bass DJ in clubs across Cardiff

He also used to DJ in Cardiff at weekends at a pre-club night in Cardiff's Europa bar and also at a drum and bass night called Enthusiasm at Moloko bar.

However he found it increasingly difficult to reconcile being a Christian with working in an environment where drug use was prevalent and decided that he couldn't continue to work as a club DJ.

"I remember thinking how could I live with myself if someone dropped dead whilst I was playing," he says.

It was in August 2007 that Dai, his wife Michelle and young daughter decided to leave Cardiff and move to Trevethin.

Dai had felt increasingly strongly over the previous couple of years that God was calling him to set up a church on the estate.

By the start of 2008, the seeds of a new church were sown and Dai opened up his house for people to meet there on Sunday mornings.

At first it was just Dai and his family but gradually word spread about the new church on the estate and by the summer of that year they needed to look for new premises to meet as over 20 people were regularly coming each Sunday.

The church found alternate premises at the Cold Barn Farm youth club on the estate and it continues to grow and flourish with 30 to 40 people attending each week.

Dai admits that Hill City church is far removed from the traditional and sometimes formal image of a church even though the Christian message they preach is the same.

"We want people to come and say there's a difference to the people who come to Hill City," he says.

"It's like a family. There's no such thing as Sunday best. Come as you are."

Dai and his dog Boaz
Dai felt that God was calling him home to Trevethin

Hill City church wants to appeal to the whole community and in addition to its Sunday morning service, it holds house prayer groups, runs a youth club and holds curry nights.

They've even produced beer mats with their church logo and details on them to distribute around the local area.

Dai still combines his musical background with his role as pastor, holding DJ workshops at the youth club.

He also emcees under the name of Trueemcee and has produced a CD which he's distributing around the community which includes grime tracks such as My Girls where he pays tribute to the important women in his life.

He hopes that in the future they'll be able to establish churches like Hill City on other estates across the valleys.

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