Page last updated at 06:21 GMT, Wednesday, 8 September 2010 07:21 UK
Historic Cefn Hengoed chapel set to re-open
Interior of Hengoed Chapel
Sunday School pioneer Morgan John Rhys began his preaching career here

A Baptist chapel in Caerphilly county dating back to 1710 is set to re-open after being closed for over 20 years.

Kath Miller who was associate minister at Ebenezer Chapel in nearby Pengam will become the minister of Hengoed Chapel (Hen Dy Cwrdd) in Cefn Hengoed.

Work has already started on the chapel and local youngsters are helping to clean and tidy the building and land.

An open weekend will be held from Friday 24 to Monday 27 September to celebrate its reopening.

Baptists have been meeting in the local area since the 1600s. However they suffered persecution during the reign of Charles II and were forced to meet in secret.

The chapel was built in Cefn Hengoed in 1710 during the reign of Queen Anne and attracted large numbers of people from the surrounding areas for meetings.

Hen Dy Cwrdd was one of only two chapels in the area until the 1830s, inspiring the establishment of other chapels in the area during that time.

Morgan John Rhys, said to be the founder of the Sunday School movement in Wales, was a member of the chapel and began his preaching career there.

Hengoed Chapel - Hen Dy Cwrdd
The chapel needs some renovation work but is still useable

The original chapel building was demolished and rebuilt in 1829, with some of the interior made from oak salvaged from the original building.

The chapel closed for regular worship during the 1980s but a local group called the Friends of Hen Dy Cwrdd remained to raised money to try to and ensure the chapel could be preserved for future generations.

That organisation has now wound down its activities but former members are supporting efforts to restore the chapel.

The open weekend will formally mark the reopening of the chapel for public worship once more.

A Harvest Thanksgiving Service on Sunday 26 September will mark the occasion and celebrate the arrival of Kath Miller as the church's new minister.

Kath and her husband Carl and family were regular worshippers at another local church in Pengam, where Kath was an associate minister.

She seen Hen Dy Cwrdd but didn't know if the church was in use.

"We knew that the area needed something. There are a lot of anti-social problems," says Kath.

"The derelict chapel symbolised the lack of hope in the area."

Kath started praying privately about Hen Dy Cwrdd and its future and after about a year she received a phone call from a deacon with responsibility for the chapel asking if they knew of anyone interested in taking it on.

She and Carl felt God was calling them to the chapel at Hengoed so they agreed to take it on.

Kath pictured with her husband Carl and children Ben, Alice and Tia
Kath Miller will be minister of Hengoed Chapel when it reopens

Kath admits that there's a lot of work to be done but they are working with young people in the area, who meet at the chapel on Tuesday evenings.

They've been helping out in the chapel's garden and cleaning the inside of the building.

Getting young people involved in tidying up the church has helped to tackle the antisocial behaviour that was taking place on the site.

"Whilst we've been up there cleaning, we have built up relationships with young people from the area," says Kath.

"They would like us to run a youth club night and street dance classes, and we are giving them volunteering opportunities.

"It's not about doing the God spot - it's about showing them another way of life. The love of Christ is evident through who we are".

The chapel has applied for a grant for £5,000 make the graveyard safe and has received a £500 'spring clean' grant from Cadw .

The building requires work but is useable and Kath hopes that Hen Dy Cwrdd will once again be a vibrant centre of the community.

The chapel along with some historic documents and books will be open to the public to view from Friday 24 to Monday 27 September from 0900 to 1900 BST.

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