It’s 185 years and counting for Horeb Penydarren ...

This year at Horeb Penydarren, we celebrate 185 years of Christian worship on the same site. Established by the Reverend Joshua Thomas as a ‘daughter’ chapel to Adulam in the centre of Merthyr Tydfil, it originally met at his Penydarren day school. Within a couple of years a parcel of land had been purchased alongside the school building and the first chapel constructed. Horeb was the first place of worship for the burgeoning community of Penydarren. 

The closure of several chapels and St John’s church in recent decades, has meant that Horeb remains today as the only place of worship in Penydarren. Although situated in an overwhelmingly English speaking area, a number of our congregation are Welsh speakers and the Welsh language plays an important part in our services, even though our sermons are in English today. We are fortunate in that several of our young people attend Welsh medium schools and are only too pleased to support our services, keeping our Welsh language traditions alive into the third century.

Our current chapel is the fourth building, having lost our last beautiful building to an arson attack in 1973. The 70s rebuilding programme, culminating in the official handing over of the keys in October 1975, brought together and strengthened the congregation. That strength of character remains today. We have a vibrant, active congregation always ready to try something new. The Sunday school meets at the same time as our morning service and we welcome wider family members to lively family services during the year.

A Christian partnership has developed over the last decade with Penuel Rhymney and joint services and activities have become popular. Weekly foodbank collections, Christian Aid community collections, donations to young carers and local children in need, as well as donations to national and world crises, are hallmarks of the generosity of the church from its inception.

Horeb loves music and singing, a fact which is often commented upon by visiting ministers. A close relationship has developed with the local primary school which invites parents to share in a joint Horeb Christmas carol service along with our good friends, Dowlais Male Choir.

Always willing to embrace new technologies, we had already installed a drop-down screen and projector in the chapel. Throughout the pandemic, our approach to technology has meant that most of our members were up for a crash course in Zoom meetings. We were able to stay in touch through online services, video family services and weekly e-newsletters. Friends and members of other churches often joined us and we are still amazed at just how effective and well received the services were. As Horeb emerges from the pandemic and moves towards its bicentenary with renewed confidence in using technologies to enhance our worship, we sometimes wonder what the Reverend Joshua Thomas would make of it all.

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