Bridging the South Wales divide Rhodri Thomas completed his Graduate Diploma with Union School of Theology in June 2019. Since then, he and his family have moved to Sarn in an area nick-named the “Gateway” to the Bridgend Valleys. Rhodri gives us an update of how things are progressing. We’ve been sitting on a call to church planting for the past ten years. Katie and I met as undergraduate students in Cardiff University and were moved by the great Gospel need across South Wales. The rate of church decline, in a country once spiritually thriving, upset us and we knew that in some way, God was calling us to do something about it. We got married in October 2010 and moved to Porthcawl where we’ve served on the leadership team of Grace Community Church. It’s been an incredible season of life where we’ve learned so much, done so much and grown as Christians. But we kept on praying and asking God what he would do with us next. I was more than impressed with the standard of training and education I received from Union In September 2017, God prompted, and made it possible, for me to study Theology with Union on the GDip course. It was an act of faith and trust to put aside my career in Science, but I knew that this was an important step to be trained up for pastoral ministry and an important step forward towards church planting. I was more than impressed with the standard of training and education I received from Union, not to mention that the Learning Community met about 20 metres from my house then, which was incredibly convenient! However, we have moved to a new house since then. During the GDip, God clarified what was a vague calling to church planting into a certain vision to plant a church in the “Bridgend Valleys Gateway”. We’ve moved to a village called Sarn which clusters with Bryncethin, Brynmenyn, Tondu and Aberkenfig to form an area that sits at the bottom of three Valleys that converge on the large town of Bridgend. In South Wales, there seems to be an incredible disparity between the number of churches South of the M4 compared to the number North of the M4. We’ve long felt that God would use us to address church decline North of the M4, and after much prayer and listening to God, he made it clear that this “Gateway” area is where he was calling us to move and plant a church. We remark at how kind and gracious God has been whilst we sought his will for this church plant. Without any active recruitment, we’ve already seen our planting team grow with some high-quality people. God has provided financially and practically to make the training and move possible. Through the Advance network of churches we have built relationships with new and seasoned church planters who have provided us with remarkable support. We feel incredibly well primed for embarking on this mission for Christ! In November 2019, we moved to Sarn which has felt like a real change in gear as we enter into the pre-launch phase of the church plant. The plan is to keep attending Grace Community Church for Sunday worship but shifting our focus to the new area during the week. Already we have experienced God’s favour in making great connections with lots of people in the area. We thank God for the ministry of Union that has served us well We are now meeting weekly with our planting team to eat, pray and study God’s Word together, with a particular view of equipping and sharpening ourselves for evangelism and discipleship. An exciting development is that we are about to start monthly prayer meetings that we have opened up to a wider group of people who may want to show support for the church plant or take a look in to see what we’re about. We will be crying out to God together, asking for him to stir the hearts of the lost to come find eternal hope in Jesus Christ. Our hope is that over the coming months we will see our planting team grow in number and in zeal for mission. Simultaneously, we aim to make deeper connections with people in this community and bed ourselves in as locals. This should see us ready to publicly launch with our own Sunday services later on in the year. We thank God for the ministry of Union that has served us incredibly well so far, and through continued partnership will be enjoyed into the future too. We thank God also for all who will read this blog post and would join us in praying for South Wales – there truly is a great need for the Gospel message to be heard and received by the many who are without a Saviour.” Discover how Union can help you in church planting.