Church History

The Beginnings of Nonconformity in the Area

In 1662, Samuel Jones was forced to leave his church at Llangynwyd due to the Act of Uniformity. He established an Academy at his home, Brynllywarch, where he trained young men for ministry.

He died in 1697, but his work was continued by one of those young men, the Rev. Rees Price of Tynton, Llangeinor, who founded two meeting houses for Nonconformists, one in Bridgend and the other in Betws. During the next few years, the congregation at Bridgend erected a Meeting House on a piece of land at the foot of Newcastle Hill. They met there from the early years of the eighteenth century until the early nineteenth century.

Elder Street Tabernacl (1810) and Adare Street Tabernacl (1850)

In 1806, a dispute arose, and a group of members left the Meeting House to worship in a barn on West Street, until a chapel was erected in Elder Street. That chapel opened in 1810 under the name ‘Tabernacl’. They joined with the congregation of Betharan, Brynmenyn, and invited the Rev. William Jones of Bala to be their minister (1811-1847). The condition of the chapel deteriorated, and a new chapel was built in Adare Street which opened in 1851 under the ministry of Rev. John David Williams.

The Rev. J.Bowen Jones (1859-1874) opened a very successful Grammar School in the Old Chapel and trained close to three hundred young men, a number of whom were destined to become ministers themselves. In 1866, a vestry was erected at the rear of the Tabernacl in Adare Street.

During the ministry of Rev. Herbert Rogers (1910-1922), the Old Chapel in Elder Street was adapted and converted into a hall, with a schoolhouse in the loft above. Over the years, the hall has been of great use to the community and to the congregation of the Tabernacl Chapel.

During the ministry of Rev. John Howell (1924 – 1942) a pipe organ was built and the freehold of the buildings purchased. The Rev. J. Cyril Bowen (1944- 1978) edited a ‘History of the Tabernacl 1662-1950’, as part of the centenary celebrations of the building in Adare Street. Rev Cyril Bowen’s successor was Rev Ronald Williams (1976-1979), followed by Rev Ifan Wynn Evans (1981-1989).

Derwen Road Tabernacl (1989)

In 1985, after much discussion, the congregation decided to sell the chapel and vestry on Adare Street to developers, and to build a new chapel in Derwen Road that would connect to the hall on Elder Street. The last service at Adare Street was held on 21st September 1986. The hall was turned into a temporary place of worship until the new chapel in Derwen Road opened on Saturday 6th May 1989.

The most recent ministers to serve the Lord here at the Tabernacl include: Rev. Robin Wyn Samuel (1991- 2003), Rev. Hywel Wyn Richards (2004 – 2014) and Rev. Dyfrig Rees (2014-2018).

In 2011, a ‘History of the Tabernacl 1950 – 2010’ was published to mark the bicentenary of the chapel in the town centre.

In 2020, it was decided to join with Tabernacl Porthcawl to form the ministry partnership, ‘Gofalaeth Glannau Ogwr’. In 2021, Rev Dylan Rhys Parry was invited to be the minister for the new partnership. His ministry began in June 2021, but due to pandemic restrictions, his official inauguration was postponed until 9th June 2022.