Myrtle House, Llanelli (Sept 2007)
Press Release 09/07
A VIBRANT church in Llanelli is providing much-needed employment, help and support for the whole community through a host of projects at its recently renovated centre.
Bill Chapman and his wife Ellen have seen a dramatic change in Llanelli, South Wales, since moving to the town in March 1996 when they began leading The Elim Pentecostal Church.
Providing employment for local people is one of the key strategies at the heart of the work of the church, and the paid workers in turn provide a core of essential services to the rest of the community.
Bill said: "We started in a cold, crumbling chapel but moved to Myrtle House in 2000 because the council had compulsory purchased the old building to make way for a car park. Further Council grants covered the extension and renovation of the house."
After gauging the immediate needs of the community through discussions with councillors, the church set about developing its vision to be a blessing to the community and meet those identified needs. As a result the church currently employs around 20 local staff.
"We opened Myrtle House Nursery which employs a number of highly qualified teachers and child care workers from the community."
He added: "We now have a senior citizens lunch club where we provide a nice three-course lunch where folk come along and enjoy socialising. Part of the improvements we have made to the building includes the installation of a fantastic industrial size kitchen, which is well used for church events and conferencing, providing work for local cooks."
As well as children and youth clubs, Ellen Chapman and her team run a schools ministry, visiting 30 primary schools in the area, which has helped develop strong relationships with teachers and head teachers.
Bill said: "We host head teachers meetings here - we want them to know that their work of caring for our children is so important, we have developed a good working friendship with the schools."
Among the many groups to us Myrtle House's conferencing facilities are the Llanelli youth offending team, who use one of the rooms for workshops.
"We have an opportunity to train our young people for a mentoring scheme set up by this team to give support to young offenders aged 8-years-old to18-years-old, the aim is to let the work of the church seep into the community," said Bill.
"We're looking for ways to be a good influence and effective in the community. The things we do are tools to serve because the church is called to care for the helpless and vulnerable, we have to serve them first."
"It's about being and doing positive things, showing that the church is alive."
The church of around 200 members is now planning to plant a church in a neighbouring town and is in the process of considering where it is most needed.
Bill said: "There are lots of areas that need a good church. I would love to be able to plant a church in every school because people see the school as the centre of the community."
He added: "This year I want to see the number of people we employ increase. We are called to bring economic as well as spiritual transformation so every penny the church has we use to employ people."
"We have many plans, hopes and dreams for the future of our town, there are lots of business opportunities that we want to start. We are always focused on the Kingdom of God advancing There's a lot to do!"