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WALES: Brand-new chapel bucks closure trend; Worshippers thrilled by 'extremely rare' event.

Byline: By DAVID POWELL

WORSHIPPERS yesterday held the first ever service at a newly-built chapel - bucking the trend of closures which has seen an 18% decline in 15 years.

The congregation at the new Welsh Presbyterian Chapel in Llannerch Road East in Rhos-on-Sea were led by the Reverend Robert Owen Griffiths.

Chapel secretary Mair Pope said: "We have built a brand newchapel on the site of the former Hermon Chapel in Llannerch Road East.

"We're thrilled with it.

"It's lovely and extremely rare to open a new chapel.

"We can seat 120 members comfortably, can transmit the service onto a screen in a hall and there's a lovely new organ."

The construction work is by builders Anwyl, which has also built private flats on the site as part of the deal.

The chapel opens officially on Sunday, October 12 with an evening concert by pianist Annette Bryn Parri and harpist Dylan Cernyw.

The Christian Research group said the Welsh Presbyterian Chapel was "bucking the trend" against church and chapel closures.

Executive director Benita Hewitt said: "There has been an 18% decline in churches and chapels in Wales in the last 15 years or so, so this new chapel in North Wales is definitely bucking the trend."

Ms Hewitt blamed this decline on fewer churchgoers making it too costly to keep open buildings.

She said Christian Research estimated that in 2000 there were 285,610 churchgoers in Wales and by 2005 that figure had dropped to 240,738.

She forecasts that there will be only 211,235 churchgoers in Wales by 2010.

She said: "New churches have opened, but they tend to be in populated areas. It's in the rural areas like North Wales where they are in decline.

"The only way to stop churches closing is to encourage more people to come back to church.

"We want people to see that churches are not dull and boring places. Christian Research has sent non-churchgoers to services.

They find they are more friendly and have more relevant sermons than they expected."

The organisation estimates that by 2010 there will be only 4,075 churches and chapels in Wales.

In 2005 there were 4,350, a decline of 700 from5,045 in 1995. In 1990, the figure was 5,283.

A Back toChurch Fun Daywill be held at most British churches and chapels on Sunday, September 28. davidpowell@dailypost.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

Reverend Robert Owen-Griffiths with members of the congregation outside the newly-built Welsh Presbyterian chapel on Llannerch Road East, Rhos on Sea Picture: STACEY ROBERTS SR140908CHAPEL-2
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 15, 2008
Words:425
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