3 February 2024

Aberystwyth: Jesus at the centre of it all

Lieutenants Jo and Thomas Morgan

A photo shows Lieutenants Jo and Thomas Morgan.

Lieutenants Jo and Thomas Morgan give an insight into the ministry of Aberystwyth Corps.

Doing a new thing

We were appointed here in July 2022 – straight from William Booth College – following corps officers who had been here for nine years. This change of leadership came coupled with a need to leave our hall on safety grounds and worship in a little memorial hall on the edge of Aberystwyth, about a mile away from the town centre. These were big adjustments for the small, predominantly older fellowship.

The significant changes and challenges of the past 18 months have unexpectedly blessed the corps by giving them a sense of freedom. It has been an opportunity to review how we work, how we think and what we do, ensuring that Christ remains at the centre of everything. One key text that’s speaking to us is Isaiah 43, especially verse 19: ‘See, I am doing a new thing!’

In the run-up to Christmas we organised our Be a Star toy appeal differently. Due to lack of storage space for toys and donations, we issued gift vouchers instead. The feedback from the agencies and charities was that parents felt empowered by being able to go into a shop with a voucher, just like any other parent at Christmas. They could go up to the counter and buy their child a gift of their choosing.

A photo shows a table laid out with Salvation Army materials.
Open day at Aberystwyth University

Cultural cohesion

For a lot of communities around Aberystwyth, Welsh is their first language, and we are continually mindful of aspects of Welsh culture and heritage that are important to this place.

We have a vision of what’s needed and we’re building good ecumenical links and relationships. Our small town has nearly 20 churches and lots of different denominations. We’ve worked with a Catholic church and St Anne’s church, which is part of the Church in Wales. A small group of ministers from different denominations meets regularly to pray.

We have a corps charity shop that does brilliant work, both missionally and financially as we support vulnerable people. We have good links with the probation service, social services and homelessness charities in the town and we support them in all sorts of practical ways.

Local churches know that if somebody comes to them with a need, they can contact us at the shop and we will do what we can to help them. Likewise, if somebody comes into the charity shop, we can clothe them, and signpost them to other churches or agencies for additional support, such as hot meals.

We recently took part in a health, faith and wellbeing open day at Aberystwyth University. There were lots of other churches and organisations on hand to share useful information with the students and it was a worthwhile day of talking to people and developing links in that environment.

Often, if we’re doing something we’ll arrange to be in a specific place, and people can come and see us there. In that sense we can maintain a mission field and provide practical help in the community.

We hold our Bible study at an M&S Café, where we’ve had people approach us wanting to know what we’re doing and to chat. It’s good to be a visible presence with our Bibles in the town.

Prayer is paramount

Along with regular prayer walks, some corps folk are undertaking the Prayer Course II: Unanswered Prayer, linking it to where we are spiritually. We’re encouraging our fellowship to read Pete Greig’s God on Mute to get them thinking a little differently about why change happens and what we can do as a corps to develop our relationship with God out of this. Our prayer is that we’ll discern this and have open hearts and minds to receive and act on it, stepping out in faith and trust as we see new opportunities.

DHQ has been very supportive to the corps, and we’re excited to see what God has planned for the Wales Division.

One thing’s for sure – we’re out on the streets and have no plans to retreat!

Dyma Gariad – Here is Love

In 2024 The Salvation Army in Wales celebrates 150 years of mission and outreach.

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