THE HEART OF WALES
The Location of Arwystli
Arwystli was an ancient medieval kingdom, situated in the very heart of Wales. Today, Arwystli includes many of the most beautiful towns and villages in the area; Llanidloes, Llandinam, Trefeglwys, Caersws, Llanwnog, Carno, Llangurig and Penstrowed all surrounded by unspoilt countryside, forests, lakes and rolling hills.
The market town of Llanidloes is the centre of the Arwystli Area and is situated two and a half hours drive from Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and Cardiff, and served by the national rail network in Caersws. Aberystwyth and the costal resorts of Borth, and the castled town of Harlech lie to the West, and are within an hour and a half drive.
The local websites listed below convey information about Arwystli, and give a picture of life in Mid Wales, including leisure activities, social activities, and an overview in photographs of the area. The pace of life is slow here, people have time for one another, they value the opportunity to stop and talk, and share one another’s concerns and joys. There is a lively social calendar of local functions as well as theatres in both Newtown and Aberystwyth and those who thought they had retired here to rest have been surprised by just how much goes on.
Arwystli is a rural area, predominately sheep farming, and the Welsh way of life is highly valued. Although much of Arwystli is not Welsh speaking, the language is taught in the schools and the Welsh identity and culture is important to the people.
Arwystli Deanery before the formation of a Ministry Area
The Deanery of Arwystli was made up of seven parishes. Historically one incumbent served the parishes of Llanidloes, Llangurig, one incumbent served the parishes of Llandinam, Trefeglwys, Penstrowed, and recently a house for duty priest served the Parishes of Carno and Llanwnog with Caersws. The additional team that previously served the deanery consisted of an Area Dean, one retired cleric, one NSM retired cleric and four readers. The Deanery met together occasionally for united Deanery services and functions but historically the parish groups have operated very much as separate benefices. Lately there has been a growing sense of interaction between some of the churches in certain benefices.
Bro Arwystli Ministry Team
Bro Arwystli was formed in March 2014 as a new Ministry Area. The seven parishes were made into one parish of seven churches and Reverend Lynda Cowan, previously Vicar to the Llandinam Benefice, was installed as the Team Leader and Vicar of the united Parish. A new Ministry Team was authorised by the Bishop and at present consists of two retired clerics and one retired NSM cleric, four readers, one reader in training and a newly appointed full time CYFME (Children’s, Youth and Family Ministry Enabler).
As the relationships amongst the Ministry Team members grow, and as acceptance and trust in the ministry style develops, we will be reviewing the styles of worship in the churches and considering how the worship is meeting the needs of the surrounding communities as well as the existing congregations. We will be looking at the place of All Age worship services so that every Sunday there is a ‘child friendly service’ taking place in one part of the Ministry Area, and exploring how we can develop excellence and variety, which not only reflect our traditions but also introduce fresh expressions of faith, in our acts of worship.
A Learning Church
As a diocese we are committed to being a learning church, and in our own area have seen how those who have engaged in Alpha, Bible study and regular group meetings are the people who have grown in discipleship and are prepared to take on responsibility in the church. Through teaching and preaching we will continue to build upon the foundations already laid and encourage the concept of an all inclusive church where all will be encouraged to recognise that they have gifts that can be used for God’s ministry. By providing training, encouragement and support we hope to encourage others to join pastoral teams, prayer teams, hospitality teams, children’s work etc. so that the people of God feel nurtured and equipped to do His work. We are committed to continuing to lead the Exploring Faith course, which has been set up by the Diocese to provide an academic understanding of theology, and through which six members of this area have already gone forwards for ordination or readers training.
THE RUNNING OF THE MINISTRY AREA
The practical running of the Ministry Area follows the Governance documents set out by the Church in Wales.
Each Church has elected Churchwardens and sidespeople, treasurer and secretary, and is responsible for its own finances. Congregational meetings are called in each church prior to the Ministry Area Committee (MAC). In addition to these obligatory official Annual General Meetings which will be chaired by the Incumbent or an appointed deputy, informal discussions to encourage involvement from the congregation in the running of the church will take place at other meetings throughout the year. The style of these meetings will be consultative, the elected Churchwardens and representatives working with both the Incumbent and the congregation to explore new and innovative ways of reaching out to the community, to engage in fund raising projects and planning special initiatives to stimulate involvement: anything from pilgrimages to theatre trips.
Two representatives from the congregational meeting are elected onto the MAC, which meets at least four times a year and be chaired by the Incumbent or an appointed deputy. The MAC sets the missional agenda for the Ministry Area, co-operates with the Diocesan strategy, works for collaboration between each church and sets the direction for the Ministry Areas aims and objectives.
Children, youth and families.
We have a recently appointed CYFME who is at present working with three other ministry areas, and is overseeing the development of children and youth ministry. There already exists a Sunday school, afterschool groups in two of the churches and a new group recently started in Llanidloes. There has been a good history of children’s and youth work and four of the churches already have All Age worship services. Messy Church has been a great success and encouraged young families to come along, as have holiday clubs that have been held.
We have a good link with Llanidloes High School as the clergy are invited to take High School assemblies several times a year, and there are good working relationships in three of the junior schools, in Llanidloes and the surrounding villages. A working relationship with the other two junior schools in the area is being set up, and we currently have Open the Book teams to go into the junior schools.
There are also two toddler groups held in Llanidloes Church hall , which church members assist with.
Pastoral care for the congregations and for the community matters greatly. Many areas are rural and isolated and though there is a strong family network, in areas where there is no bus service, loneliness can be a real problem. The different churches are involved in lunch clubs, afternoon teas, and coffee mornings, some of which are to raise church funds, but all of which are equally as important in their role of supporting the community. The church, clergy and laity take services to the local residential home and there is also a group that regularly visits the hospital.
Outreach and Mission
Through many of the initiatives already mentioned outreach and mission are our priority. Social functions and fresh expressions of church provide opportunities to contact the wider community and to take church to where the people already are, both physically and spiritually. We will be mindful of the statement that the church exists for those who are not its members and develop opportunities to serve the community.
Mission links with other agencies and regular giving is a priority in the work of the church. Christian Aid as well as local charities is well supported. The Ministry Area has a history of working in Uganda, and we look forwards to developing the link with a twin parish recentlyset up by the Diocese.
The need for open communication and networking is paramount. Our Bilingual Area newsletter links the seven churches and shares service times, study groups and activities.
We are in hopeful negotiations with the Diocese about setting up a Ministry Area office that will act as a resource centre, an administration centre and a base from which our youth worker can operate.
- We are committed to working closely with Cytun, Churches together, and to growing the relationships between all Christian denominations.
- We are committed to nurturing both the indigenous Welsh communities as well as the increasing number of people who have moved into the area.
- We are committed to making our churches a welcoming environment where all people, irrespective of gender, race or sexual orientation or disability are welcomed.
- We are committed to nurturing our children in a safe environment where they may learn the love of God.
- We are committed to reaching out to the schools within our communities so that they may hear of the love of God and always feel welcome in the house of God.
- We are committed to honouring the elderly and those who, through their faithful worship, have fulfilled their responsibility to their generation.
- We are committed to providing teaching and opportunities to learn and grow together.
- We are committed to making sure that God is the centre of our teaching, our worship and our lives together.
- We are committed to showing the love and compassion of Jesus in our pastoral care and our availability.
- We are committed to providing inspirational worship, so that all may be nurtured in faith.
- We are committed to ensuring that the church is significant in the community that it serves.
- We are committed to enjoying our calling by God and the fullness of life that comes in fellowship with Christ.