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Mary Jones centre

December 2014 | by Julian Evans

The story of how, around 200 years ago, 15-year-old Mary Jones walked barefoot over the hills of North Wales to Bala to buy a Bible is part of our Christian heritage.

She saved up and made a 26-mile trek on rough paths and over rocky terrain to reach Rev. Thomas Charles, because she so wanted her own Bible. This helped inspire him and others to found the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1805.

On Sunday 5 October 2014, the bicentenary of the death of Thomas Charles, the Bible Society opened ‘Mary Jones World’ at Llanycil, just outside Bala, to celebrate this milestone in making Scripture widely available to all.

The ceremony was attended by 300 visitors from across the world and Bala itself. Many Christian denominations were represented. The occasion began with a march from Bala to Llanycil. At the ceremony itself, there was a Welsh male voice choir, an address by the Bishop of St Asaph and an enactment of the lives of Mary Jones and Thomas Charles.

The ceremony concluded by unveiling a plaque to mark the opening by Thomas Charles’s oldest living descendant, 102-year-old Leta Jones, his great, great, great granddaughter. Ms Jones had received a specially inscribed Bible from the president of Japan’s Bible Society for the occasion of the opening.

Scripture was read, hymns sung and prayers offered, all with the hope that God would bless this new centre and remind us all of the centrality of the Bible and its message of Jesus Christ. The Mary Jones World centre will be open from April 2015.

Julian Evans