Merthyr Tydfil Stake recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the chapel in 2013 with a series of events culminating in an Anniversary Spectacular and in a special Sunday commemoration service, where members of the stake, past and present, came to give thanks and share experiences. Celebrations began with a gathering of all invited guests in the reception lounge where the Stake Presidency and Church leaders mingled and met with local dignitaries, visiting church authorities and both visiting and resident building missionaries, and their representatives. After dinner, Stake President Govier introduced Elder Hans Boom, Area Seventy, who thanked all those who had been involved in the preparations, and spoke of those, present and past, who had helped to build the chapel fifty years ago. He also mentioned the two shovels, which were on display, and which had been used to break the ground on the chapel site by President David O McKay and were given to Ralph Pulman Senior and Emlyn Davies following the Ground Breaking Ceremony in 1961.
Back in 1963, the members of the Church met in a small wooden hut at Penyard, Merthyr Tydfil. Freda Entwistle recalls: “Every Sunday when it rained, I remember how we would place saucepans on the floor to catch the rain as it came in through the roof.” The members responded with enthusiasm to the news that a new chapel was to be built. Building missionaries were called and a building schedule began. When the Branch President, John Mahoney, received a letter from President David O McKay expressing his desire to dedicate the new building in August of 1963, these plans had to be revised, but the members responded and the chapel was finished in time for the dedication.
Today, this chapel is home to two wards and is also the Merthyr Tydfil Stake Centre. Julie Jones, a stake public affairs representative said: “It was great to see people here this weekend celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the church building. It was wonderful to listen to the stories from 1963 when the building was built, and to see the growth that has taken place. Over 550 people from Merthyr and surrounding areas attended the Sunday Commemorative Service this weekend, a substantial increase from the days of old Penyard.” Special guests over the weekend included: Elder Hans Boom, Area Seventy, President & Sister Govier, Mr Denis Sullivan, MT Scout Deputy Commissioner, President & Sister James Hayes, Cardiff Stake Presidency, Building Missionaries - Jim Perry, Tony Hipkins, Geoff Robinson, Mrs Susan Harrald, wife of the late Fred Harrald, Arnold Jones, Leighton Jones, Morgan Evans and John Headington. Elder Patrick Kearon of the Europe Area Presidency stated: “It is nice to look back and rejoice, but look forward and energetically engage. Look around you - that great missionary William Henshaw brought 500 people into the church in this area. There are 500 of you here today. There is work to do. We must be rekindled. We cannot look back and think that is it.'
The Mayor of Merthyr Tydfil, Graham Davies, attended the Sunday service and said: “I am tremendously impressed. Looking around now at this vast congregation, I wish all of our churches and chapels were as full as I have seen today and I wish you every blessing for the future.”
Merthyr Tydfil Stake includes wards and branches in Merthyr Tydfil, Aberystwth, Newcastle Emlyn, Llannelli, Swansea and Milford Haven and has a church history that dates back to Pioneer times when a great number of Welsh Saints answered the call to go west. There are families in the stake today who can trace their heritage back to family members who had to remain behind in Wales. There is a great deal of strength in this wonderful stake which is demonstrated in many ways from the high percentage of seminary graduations, which is the highest in Europe, to the number of missionaries serving all over the globe.