God’s faithfulness at Newtown
It is 30 years since the crowds in Tehran heralded the Islamic Revolution, but March 1979 is also remembered by a small group of Christians for the commencement of the Sunday services of Newtown Evangelical Church (Eglwys Efengylaidd y Drenewydd) in mid-Wales.
The church was originally planned to be bilingual and many services were initially held in Welsh. It developed naturally out of a house group Bible study, when the Epistle to the Romans was studied a few verses at a time, and the discussions that followed proved lively and informative.
An evening of prayer was held before starting meetings in a public hall. Counsel was sought from Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones of Westminster Chapel, London, while he was staying at nearby Bryn Uchaf farm at Llanymawddwy. His comments were encouraging. Trehafren meeting hall was available on Sundays and was hired.
On that first Sunday a small organ was carried across from a nearby house and the hall cleaned before the service was held. Three families and three individuals, together with some visiting friends, made the congregation seventeen strong. It was a beginning!
In the ensuing years, with the addition of more members the church took shape, appointed its first elder, drew up a constitution, and began looking for a permanent building to meet in.
A piece of land became available at Vaynor. A contract was signed in faith with less than a fraction of the money to hand; the fellowship also appointed its first full-time elder/pastor. There followed testing times, but in God’s faithfulness there was never a shortfall.
The church grew and filled the meeting room. Some Christians transferred from other churches, and there were conversions followed by open air public baptisms in the River Hafren (Severn). A number of onlookers would congregate on the footbridge to hear the thrilling testimonies of the converts.
Seven years to the day after the fellowship started, the new building was ready for occupation. The first actual preacher was Elwyn Davies, General Secretary of the Evangelical Movement of Wales, who had been booked almost a year ahead.
The preacher at the official opening in March 1986 was Vernon Higham, the well known hymn writer and then pastor of Heath Church in Cardiff, whose preaching had led to the conversion of two of the church’s founding members.
Throughout the church’s 30 years, new ministries have developed amongst the children, youth, toddlers and elderly. Missions have been held regularly and members ministered at other local churches in English and Welsh.
Recent years have been no less exciting, under fresh, multi-elder leadership. Two full-time workers’ hard work has brought further growth. So many members have given freely and generously of their gifts, time and money. Deep bonds and friendships have been formed, and every effort continues to be made to welcome and integrate new members.
The risen Lord Jesus is still seeking lost sheep. Whilst over the years there have been times of disappointment, the church is grateful to God for this ‘light on a hill’ in mid-Wales.
The church is excited about 2009, with a mission spearheaded by Roger Carswell due to take place in June.