The birth of Christchurch
When plans for a new housing development in Llanedeyrn were announced, Albany Road Baptist Church challenged the Roath Park Council of Churches to plan for a United Church in the area. They were convinced that such a Church should be in place as soon as possible so that new residents could be welcomed by the Church as soon as they arrived.
With the Roath Park Council of Churches unable to act, Albany Road, being a Baptist Church, and therefore not centrally governed, went ahead independently to put in place plans for a Church in Llanedeyrn. They applied for one of three sites on the estate earmarked for Church use, challenged their members, living within the vicinity of the new estate, to leave Albany Road and form the nucleus of the new congregation. So, Christchurch began in 1967 with a small congregation of some twenty of so people worshipping on Sunday mornings in St. Teilo’s Church in Wales School Hall, on the edge of the new development.
Albany Road Baptist Church
St Teilo's Church in Wales Hall
The Revds. Trevor Thorn & Graham Davies with Mr. Ivor Hayward and Mr. Harold Morgan discuss the plans for a new building
A site at Wellwood was chosen and building on the site began in the late summer of 1968. By May 1969 the new Hall was ready and it was opened on May 10th 1969. The photo below shows The Revd. Graham Davies, Christchurch's first Minister, holding an umbrella over Mr. Norman Plummer, Chairman of the Cardiff Baptist Board, as he presents the key to The Revd. Dr. W. J. Grant, President of the Baptist Union. The Revd. Trevor Thorn smiles through the rain, and the Revd. Dr. J. Ithel Jones, Principal of the S. Wales Baptist College, is kept dry before he preaches at the opening service.
The Hall set out for evening worship
The congregation had committed themselves to completing the building of the church and in the summer of 1976 the builders moved in. In March 1977 the new building was opened. On Sunday morning, March 6th, 1977, family worship began in the hall and then the congregation walked into the new church to complete the service.
Albany Road believed that not only should the Church be in the area from the beginning but that it should have a full time Minister. As the whole of the funding for ministry was coming from the Baptist Union, through an initial pastorate grant, the Minister had to be Baptist. However they were determined to look for a person who was sympathetic to an ecumenical expression of the new Church’s life, because of their belief, that denominational divisions made no sense in a new area and would be a betrayal of the Church’s mission to affirm that in Christ all things are reconciled.
How Christchurch has grown
From the very beginning the congregation at what became known as ‘Christchurch United Church’, continued to appeal to the other denominations to join them. The Church in Wales responded positively and for four years the Curate at All Saints, Cyncoed worked in partnership with the Minister at Christchurch. They shared Sunday Services of Worship alternating between the Free Church and Anglican Liturgies. Christchurch concentrated on involving the other Free Church Leaders in what they were trying to achieve. This took several years of prolonged and sometimes painful debate, but eventually it was agreed that the Minister at Christchurch should be Recognised and Regarded as a Methodist Minister and the Church accepted as part of the circuit.
This relationship was strengthened in 1994 when the local churches, made up of the Benefice Churches of the Church in Wales (All Saints, Cyncoed, All Saints, Llanedeyrn, and St Edeyrns), together with Cyncoed Methodist Church, St David’s Ecumenical Church, Pentwyn and Christchurch United Church, entered into a local covenant under the auspices of ‘Churches Together’. This was strengthened with the opening of the new Community Church on a new estate at Pontprennau supported by all the local churches involved in the Covenant.
Christchurch in an Ecumenical Partnership
The Churches mentioned above, together with the Methodist Church at Rumney, Anglican Churches at St Mellon’s and Llanrumney, together with the newly formed ecumenical church at the new St Mellon’s Estate continued to meet and discuss the best way forward. In June 2005, the New Cardiff East Local Ecumenical Partnership was affirmed and celebrated. Within the partnership, the clergy and ministers work as a team, meeting each week for prayer and planning. Regular United services are held, especially to celebrate the various Festivals throughout the year. The Church is also a member and strongly committed to the Covenanted Churches in Wales, Enfys. Continued dialogue continues to take place with the various Church leaders to discover where God may be leading us in this direction.