Church1076

Church1076 - Churches of Wales

High up on the mountainside above Pontardawe, and surrounded by wild and windswept moorland, and as often as not swept by driving rain, hail or sleet, stands a lonely and isolated chapel. The chapel is built a short distance off an ancient roadway, now referred to on the maps as St. Illtyd's Way which dates from prehistoric times. It's a lonely single carriageway mountain road. Hundreds of years ago was a major route north and south, but now it carries scarcely any traffic, now that the modern roads are mainly down in the valley bottoms, where the population centres of post-industrial times are to be found. The whole area around Baran consists mostly of high, windswept moorland in a triangle of land at the points of which are the modern day communities of Rhydaman (Ammanford), Pontardawe and Pontarddulais.

The chapel is called Baran, and is still open and home to about a dozen members who attend the monthly Sunday afternoon services there. How long it will remain open is uncertain, but it is the kind of chapel of which there are many in Wales, which a small, determined and dedicated group of people will fight to keep going, more because of a strong attachment to a rich and incredible past than in order to continue be a vital witness to the gospel in the future. Nevertheless, the testimony of those who have worshipped in this remote area for centuries is an inspiring one, which can encourage us to fulfil the purposes of God in our time and to seek His kingdom in greater measure, even if that is best outworked where we live rather than up in a mountain wilderness where few now live and work.

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