Posted by Mission Catalyst at 13:08 on 9th June 2011
Hengoed Chapel serves an area of high unemployment and child poverty and where a fear of youth prevails. The chapel had been closed for many years and was a focal point of antisocial behaviour.
Following discussions with the local community partnership about the needs of local people, it became apparent that our initial priority was the youth of the area.
From the beginning we witnessed how the old building fascinated and attracted young people. However, whilst very willing to enter the building, they did not have the desire or ability to participate in any form of structured Sunday service.
So, a morning service was established to provide a quiet, uninterrupted opportunity for the adults of the chapel to partake in a time of shared worship.
Alongside this, a different way of doing church was needed for us to share the love of God with the youth and see the freedom, restored relationships, purpose, meaning, peace and joy, that only He can bring, come into their lives as well.
We began by emphasising that Jesus came for everyone, so everyone was welcome. We worked on craft projects signifying their ownership of and shared responsibility for the chapel. The words of Jesus in Matthew 19: 13-14 were shared repeatedly. Antisocial behaviour on site fell dramatically.
The next priority was, and still is, to tackle the divisions that exist between various groups of young people - they fought whenever together. We emphasise respect for ourselves, each other and the world in which we live, because all are a part of God’s creation. (Photo credit: John Perivolaris)
The ministry emphasises grace – God bans no one because of who they are or what they have done. For young people who have been excluded from school and banned from every other organisation in the area, this has a powerful impact.
We now see youngsters from these opposing groups serving each other with refreshments, partaking in craft together and playing team sports. They ask why we do what we do - we tell them about Jesus.
By Kath Miller
More at http://hengoedchapel.vpweb.co.uk
And read a story by BBC News about Hengoed Chapel at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/southeastwales/hi/people_and_places/religion_and_ethics/newsid_8976000/8976578.stm