Unkindly dubbed ‘The hole with the mint’, the town of Llantrisant has more claims to fame than the Royal Mint which was relocated from London to the outskirts of the town in the 1960s.
In Welsh Llantrisant denotes ‘place of three saints’ – Illtyd, Gwynno and Dyfodwg – and the town has ancient Celtic roots. The focal point of the town is the Bull Ring, a commercial square that was used for bull-baiting, until it was disallowed in 1827 due to unruly crowds.
The square contains a statue of Dr William Price, a brilliant but notorious figure in local history. He tried reviving what he believed to be the religion of the ancient druids and became one of the most prominent proponents of the Neo-Druidic movement which achieved great popularity in Victorian Wales. Price became known as a pioneer of cremation, ‘the purging fire’ as he saw it.
When he had a son by a woman 60 years his junior, Price saw the child as a new druidic Messiah. Believing the child deserved a name that the world would recognise and worship, he named it Iesu Grist (Jesus Christ) Price. Sadly, less than five months later the baby suffered a convulsion and died in his father’s arms on 10 January 1884. Price was tried at the Glamorgan Assizes in Cardiff for cremating the child’s body (in the open air). He was eventually acquitted.
When Dr Price’s own cremation took place on 31 January 1893 an estimated 20,000 people ventured to Llantrisant. By noon every one of the 27 pubs in the town had run dry of ale as a carnival atmosphere prevailed.
Whether or not because of his influence, Llantrisant today has more than its fair share of spiritual darkness. There are numbers of spiritualists in the area, and the local primary school PTA is now organising its second séance to raise funds. Pagans also use the bullring to meet and at Christmas time can be seen performing various rites around the Christmas tree.
A light on a hill
While social and economic decline in Valleys communities in South Wales have made most chapels unsustainable, Llantrisant benefits from being close to the M4, the Royal Glamorgan Hospital as well as the aforementioned Royal Mint. The expanding University of South Wales at nearby Treforest is also a factor in drawing people to the area.
The Baptist cause in Llantrisant dates from 1650 and Tabor Baptist Church from 1824. Several chapels in the town are now derelict or used for other purposes but over the years Tabor has kept believing in the power of the gospel and biblical convictions have shaped the life of the church over the generations. The previous pastor, Richard Wigham, was assistant to Hugh Morgan at Malpas Road Evangelical Church in Newport before coming to Tabor in 1983. His long and faithful ministry proved influential for many. In August 2012 he and his wife Pam moved north to take up the pastorate of Carlton Miniatt Evangelical Church near Thirsk in North Yorkshire. Andrew Love, formerly in Brazil with UFM, was called to the pastorate of Tabor in April 2013. The church in 2015 has 44 members, along with several youngsters who have recently been baptised.
In early 2015, after extending the diaconate from three to six, two of the existing deacons were recognised as elders, having unofficially served in this capacity. This is a big step forward for the fellowship.
The church has also been encouraged by the way in which the Lord has provided funds (via various trusts and charitable bodies) for the refurbishment of the building. During 2015 work has been completed to renew the drainage system and insulate the floor. The pews have been removed and the congregation now sits on new chairs on a carpeted floor. The foyer has been enlarged, with new toilets installed and three sets of glazed doors replacing the inner wall, making the building more open for outsiders.
Tabor has a keen missionary interest. Over the years there have been trips to Uganda led by Creighton Lewis. Richard Wigham also made links with Sri Lanka and visited there. Now there is a link with Brazil with individuals from Tabor going on UFM summer teams to Brazil with Andrew and Jenny Love over the last two years. There is also an increasing interest in Romania. Peter and Janice Cox have made many trips and are now going out with Adrian Carey-Jones of Romanian ministries. As well as this Tabor supports a wide range of missionaries both prayerfully and financially.
The church reaches out to all ages with parent and toddlers, children’s meetings, youth work, sheltered accommodation services, special suppers, ladies and men’s events. As well as this there are special services to invite people to throughout the year, for example, St David’s Day, Mother’s Day and Harvest. Visitors have come in and at present there are some who are seeking. Door to door visitation through use of a survey and outreach at the Llantrisant Christmas Fayre are also important aspects of our evangelism. The real burden is for conversions. We at Tabor covet your prayers.