29 minutes | Jun 4, 2023
This week marks the start of the 'Churches Unlocked' festival in South Wales running between the 3rd and 11th of June. During this time thirty churches will be welcoming the public for events; from bell ringing taster sessions to wildlife spotting in churchyards. With the closure rate of churches in Wales increasing, Christopher Catling, Chief Executive of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, explains why he believes it’s vital to preserve church buildings, and how he believes events like this can help. The festival’s founder Sarah Perons explains how she hopes the event will help connect communities with their historic buildings. Delyth Liddell visits three churches taking part in the festival. At Margam Abbey Mark and Ruth Greenaway Robbins show her the historic Stanton Vestments and share their vision for a welcoming inclusive church. Bev Gulley takes Delyth on her ‘Trails and Tales’ talk about the great and the good buried at the Abbey, and tells some captivating Victorian tales. At St. Cybi’s Church, Llangibi, Peter Foden leads a pilgrimage walk, ‘Camino Cybi,’ and shares the story of a wild-camping Cornish prince who founded the church in the sixth century. In Barry pupils from Oak Field Primary School show Delyth around Merthyr Dyfan church and share why they love this small sanctuary situated in the middle of residential housing estates. Emma Ackland explains how the festival has given them the boost to open the church that has been locked since the Covid pandemic, apart from for Sunday worship.
30 minutes | May 28, 2023
Bishop Stuart Bell
Stuart Bell was once rector of one of the most thriving churches in Wales: St Michael's Aberystwyth. These days, his former curate (now Archbishop) Andrew John commands Anglican clergy to keep him at arm's length, and neither to receive communion from him, nor to invite him to take part in any service except with permission from their relevant bishops. The issue concerns the blessing of gay marriages within the Church in Wales, to which Stuart and some others strongly object. Rosa Hunt speaks to the newest bishop in the Anglican Convocation in Europe, with responsibility for Wales. Amidst this serious schism, Bishop Bell claims that many clergy and parishioners are set to join him, objecting to what he sees as the Church's departure from Biblical teaching on sexual matters. And yet, he declares, he would return to the fold as soon as the Bench of Bishops rescinded their decision to allow gay blessings in the Church in Wales. "I don't like where I am at the moment...it's been an enormous grief to me to step away from the Church in Wales".
30 minutes | May 21, 2023
And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind
As Easter draws to a close, Christians around the world will be focussing on the Day of Pentecost which comes a week today. This major festival has been given other names too - Whit Sunday or Whitsun for short. It’s even been referred to as the birthday of the church. Coming 50 days after Christ’s Resurrection, it’s the time when (according to the dramatic account in chapter 2 of the Acts of the Apostles) the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit. The passage continues, “Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them” The Holy Spirit had arrived in no uncertain terms. From then on – as the remainder of the Book of Acts relates - the disciples and their followers were inspired to go forth and set up the first churches in places like Corinth and Thessaloniki; their mission was far from easy. Down the centuries, churches have been opened and closed and indeed the landscapes of Wales and other places around the world are punctuated with neglected and derelict churches which were once proud testaments to fervent revivals. Here in Wales, many places such as Llandudno, Llantwit Major and Llanbadrig are testament to church cells founded by saints about 1500 years ago. Now, despite an increasingly secular society today, new churches are being opened with congregations growing in number. We ask why. With the help of his guests, Jonathan Thomas hears about the descent of the Holy Spirit on the very first Day of Pentecost, and its subsequent influence on new churches emerging around the Eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor. He also explores the work of the Holy Spirit today in Pentecostal and mainstream denominations, and learns about the seeming exponential growth of neo-Pentecostal churches in south America. Our guests: Catrin Williams: Professor of New Testament Studies at the University of Wales, Trinity St David. The Revd Dr Gareth Leyshon, a Roman Catholic priest and Director of Adult Education in the Archdiocese of Cardiff. The Revd Dr Jonathan Black: Lecturer in Theology at Regents Theological College of the Elim Pentecostal Church, and a minister in the Apostolic Church. Luca Sparey: an ordinand based at the Citizen Church in Cardiff. Professor Bettina Schmidt: Director of the Alister Hardy Religious Experience Centre based in Lampeter.
27 minutes | May 14, 2023
Muslim Mental Health
Azim Ahmed looks into some of the issues affecting mental wellbeing among the Muslim community in Wales and beyond. Whilst younger people might now be well versed in the language and lexicon of mental health, some older people may struggle to find the words to describe their mental state. In some cases, faith can be a balm for the troubled mind, but there are cases where certain religious beliefs can actually make things harder - beliefs such as attributing mental illness to the 'evil eye' or even demonic possession, for example. Attitudes are changing, but research suggests a need for sensitivity among health professionals in understanding the cultural backgrounds of some Muslim patients. And among Muslims, there's comfort in the example of the Prophet Mahommed himself, who evidently also experienced periods of low mood and anxiety, and yet was unafraid to express his feelings.