Does this photo make you miss summer, or at least the warmer weather? Perhaps this report will at least warm your hearts!
‘It’s very important the mission carries on for the next 50 years’. These were the encouraging words from Lynford Thomas, chairman of Ceredigion County Council in Mid Wales, at a special bilingual thanksgiving service, attended by more than 70 people, in Towyn Chapel, New Quay.
The service last year was held to celebrate and give thanks for 50 years of work in the town by the United Beach Missions (UBM).
UBM started missions in Llandudno in 1953, with the aim of sharing the gospel with holidaymakers, with time on their hands to stop and think. Missions followed quickly in other resorts around England and Wales, and eventually in Ireland and continental Europe.
Roselyn Barnes and Hugh Michael were members of the first mission in New Quay in 1967, and it was a delight to welcome them back in New Quay, all these years later, to join the celebration.
In an interview with Dr Sally Venn (a present-day UBM-er), Ros, who was converted through the Beach Mission at Llandudno, shared something of those early days.
In 1967 UBM was operating in Aberystwyth, but the beach was not really a sandcastle, family beach. Someone suggested visiting the beautiful beach in New Quay, where there was sand and a bay that created almost an amphitheatre effect.
Having investigated the possibility and made contacts in the town, a team travelled down in a VW Beatle every afternoon after the morning programme in Aberystwyth to take a Holiday Special-style meeting on New Quay’s beach.
Ros described the first week and how the team in those early years made contact with Towyn Chapel, arranging the accommodation and so on, so a team could actually be based in the town.
She spoke of one 12-year-old boy with red curly hair who came to trust Christ in that first year. His name was Neville Evans, now organist at Towyn Chapel. Mr Evans gave the welcome and opened the service in prayer.
Another special guest at the service was Garin Jenkins, former Welsh rugby union international. Interviewed by Tim Howlett, UBM’s executive officer, he spoke with some humour of his life as a Christian in sport.
He told those gathered how, as a child, he spent family holidays in New Quay, where he regularly joined in the activities of the Beach Team and heard the good news of the gospel.
Professor Stephen Taylor, chairman of UBM, expressed thanks and appreciation for all the support for UBM in the town. We remain grateful, not only to Ceredigion County Council for permission to operate and the local community for their kindness and generosity over the years, but also to Towyn Chapel and St Llwchaearn Church for their practical support, through the use of their halls for team accommodation.
The concluding address was given by Gareth Jones, former director of education for Ceredigion County Council. In an interesting talk, alternating regularly between Welsh and English, he spoke on the theme of time and measurement and, true to UBM’s major principle, powerfully ‘shared the good news of Jesus’.
The service was followed by refreshments, including an anniversary cake decorated specially for the occasion, in the chapel hall. Members of many local churches enjoyed warm fellowship together and with the many beach missioners past and present.
It is encouraging to see there are still people, both young and old, seeking the things of God. Echoing those words of Lynford Thomas, it is indeed very important that the mission carries on for the next 50 years!