Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Tony Campolo comes to Carmarthen

June 12, 2009

One of my favorite Christian thinkers of our time is Tony Campolo, I have huge respect for him. This Saturday he’s the keynote speaker at the English Welsh Baptist’s annual Union meeting and the evening meeting is public so I’m going to hear him speak live. I’ve been reading the books and tuning in to the podcasts for some years now so I’m really looking forward to see and hear him in flesh. It really saddens me that some Christians go around branding him as a Liberal only because he preaches the Kingdom of God in it’s full glory and not only personal salvation. He still affirms the importance of personal salvation only that he teaches that the Gospel is more than personal salvation only. In my view he knocks the nail on it’s head and brings a much needed counter emphasis to the evangelical world.

The meeting is at 7pm, Saturday 13th June at Tabernacle Chapel, Waterloo Terrace, Carmarthen – £5 on the door. Arrive early to avoid disappointment.

I’ll let the man speak for himself now….


A stand for civil rights

June 4, 2009

ffredffransisFfred Ffransis, a veteran language campaigner and a committed Christian, was banned from taking a Welsh Bible into jail and forced to eat only potatoes while behind bars at Bridgend’s Parc Prison this week. Fred was sentenced to five days at Llanelli magistrates on Monday for refusing to pay an eight-year-old fine of £100. The 60-year-old campaigner said he was appalled at the lack of effort to serve the Welsh community. He was reduced to eating only potatoes because he refused to fill in an English-only form to request vegetarian food. After taking his Bible from him on the way in they didn’t provide him with a Welsh Bible in his cell either.

Ffred has been sentenced to around 6 years in total over the last 40 years, and has served around 4 years in prison. He has been sentenced to prison a total of 8 times. Here are the times he was sentenced to a lengthy periods:

  • 1987 (Cardiff Court) – Campaigning for a body to develop Welsh Language Education (1 year – served 9 months)

  • 1973 (Huddersfield Court) – Welsh language channel (1 year – served 9 months)

  • 1971 (Mold Court) – Welsh language channel (3 years – served 2 years)

  • 1970 (High Court, London) – In support of Dafydd Iwan, Road Signs campaign (3 months – served 2 months)

Personally I’ve been arrested four times in the past four years, but have never been given a prison sentence.

It’s very sad that even in modern post-devolution Wales Welsh speakers still have to resort to non-violent direct action to draw attention to our lack of civil rights in vast areas of day to day life.

Welsh medium education at university level

April 28, 2009

Back in 2004 a few hundred of us camped out over night in-front of the Welsh Government building in Cardiff to show our protest about the lack of Welsh medium education in our universities. It's a blessing now to see all that campaigning over the years bearing some fruit.

A post today about one of the Welsh language campaigns I have been involved in over the past few years. One of the main hurdles that still faces the Welsh language today is the lack of Welsh medium education in the higher education sector, university level. Welsh universities over the years have been institutionally anti-Welsh; things are much better now but developing education through the Welsh language is still far down on the agenda of all institutions and some universities such as Cardiff University have no plans at all to move towards providing the education in Welsh. It is believed therefore that to increase the Welsh language provision in the sector we need to see a new institution established to oversee, maintain and develop the Welsh language provision in the sector. This new institution is needed because current institutions have failed to deliver over the decades.

The model written by Menna and myself, first put forward in November 2007, was conceived with the demise of the University of Wales taken into account. In formulating the model we had examined comparable situations such as Welsh language broadcasting where S4C had been established as a separate channel to provide focus and momentum.

The model’s four core principles can be summarized as follows:

i.) The Welsh Federal College should constitute a new independent academic institution that will bear the responsibility of overseeing, maintaining and developing the Welsh language provision in the sector. The independence of this new institution will bring a new and much needed impetus to Welsh language provision within the sector.

ii.) The Welsh Federal College should have ‘ring fenced’ funding. This funding would be used to implement a step change in the provision, development and marketing of Welsh medium eduction in the sector. Also, the ownership of it’s own ‘ring fenced’ budget will command respect towards the institution from the rest of the sector so that it’s not seen subordinate to other institutions but rather as an equal partner and provider. It should stand shoulder to shoulder and not under current sector institutions in a sector wide hierarchical sense.

iii.) The Welsh Federal College should work under it’s own charter, or other similar legal document, stating clearly its mission, aims and objectives; this will ensure the founding vision is kept central as the institution develops and expands over the coming years.

iv.) Finally, the Welsh Federal College should keep a register of students and academic staff. New appointments under future schemes and current sector personnel who are involved in Welsh language provision should be able to publicly show their membership to the College. This idea of ‘ownership’ from the student and teaching staff perspective is central to the ethos of the new institution – without this membership idea the institution will not be an academic institution but rather nothing more than a Welsh education funding council – this would not be fruitful in terms of creating a Welsh language academic sphere.

The provision itself would be catered through current sector institutions – the Welsh Federal College would work the provision through them. To implement and administrate this it is proposed that the Welsh Federal College would have a ‘branch’ in each sector institution. The size and workload of each ‘branch’ would differ from institution to institution but the long term aim is to have Welsh Federal College co-ordinated Welsh medium provision spread across the whole of Wales in all institutions. The paper makes it clear that this will not be achieved overnight but the model provides a clear framework, given appropriate Government funding, how to move towards this goal. The model can be read in full (in Welsh and English) on the website:

The idea of establishing a Welsh Federal College have been adopted as Government policy and currently the Government is considering how best to implement the policy. I hope and pray that the Welsh government will see fit to establish a proper institution with proper funding, as we have argued for, so that the injustice suffered by Welsh speaking students over the decades can be bought to and end.

Llanw – when the music fades

April 20, 2009

Post in Welsh | Cofnod yn Gymraeg

The blog has been quiet of late because I was away at Llanw last week. Meirion Morris and Hywel Mereydd were the two men who came up with the idea of establishing a Word Alive/Spring Harvest like event in Welsh to inspire and equip Welsh language Christians and their churches. This year’s Llanw was the second and I became involved early on when arranging the first last year. Now I have responsibility over the website, branding, design and online booking pre-event and audio and video systems during the event itself. I also played drums for the evening praise and lead worship in one of the morning services. In short, God has lead me to play a pivotal role in Llanw – I’m sharing this because I need your prayers. Anybody who has been deeply involved in arranging and running an event like this knows that your so busy and so stressed out at times that you your yourself get no time for reflection and find it strangely hard to concentrate on praising God despite the fact that all your hard work makes that very easy for others who only attend a receive!

On the final night a farmer from Cefn Meiriadog near St. Asaph gave his testimony and explained that he did not know Jesus as his saviour in last year’s Llanw and that his experience in Llanw last year was the first important mile stone in his journey towards faith. He retuned this year saved by the grace of God. I’ve never spoken to Huw the farmer beyond the “Hello” passing him in the corridor and I’ve certainly never spoken with him about Jesus but I did make Llanw possible and it was Llanw that God used to start the work in Huw’s heart. It’s stories like these which make the effort and the work worthwhile. While I might have been too rushed off my feet at the event itself to appreciate and praise God like I should, the following Monday, when the music fades, is when it dawns on you how great God has been and such and honor it is to have been involved in his big plan.

Here is a video of Huw sharing his story, I’ts in Welsh, another reason for you to learn the language of heaven!:

[ ?posts_id=2024300&dest=-1]

Llanw website

Llanw – the Welsh New Word Alive

April 8, 2009


Next week I’ll be going to Llanw. It’s sort of like a Welsh New Word Alive, or at least the closest thing to that you’ll get in the Welsh language. I’m one of the organizers so this week I’ve been busy getting things ready from checking credit card payments, to painting banners to making sure we’ve got all the music ready for the worship band. Here is a little word about Llanw.

Llanw is a festival that brings Christians throughout Wales together in order to celebrate and deepen our relationship with the living God. There will be an opportunity to socialise, learn and worship with our fellow Christians. The festival is for everyone aged between 9 hours and 900 years old, there’s no excuse for not coming! Come to enjoy!

Date of Llanw 2009: 14-17 April

What happens at Llanw…

A service will be held every morning and evening, and there will be an opportunity to take advantage of the adventurous facilities that are at Gwersyll Llangrannog during the day, attend seminars on various subjects or go for a walk to visit the beautiful paths and villages on the Cardigan coast. Following the evening service there will be an opportunity to join in a further informal worship or an opportunity to relax and socialise over a hot cuppa.

watcynBreakfast, lunch and supper are included in the price. This year, in order to accommodate more people and to offer a more competitive range of prices there’s an opportunity to camp or hire a room indoors. This year you can book online, and we encourage you to do this; we use an experienced Christian company called Good Book Co. to administer this and your details will be totally secure.

There will be a full provision for children during the week, clubs during the services and freedom to enjoy activities such as skiing and go-carting in the afternoon. It will be a family festival for the entire family of Christ. Individuals between 14 and 17 years old can attend the festival without their parents if a Church or Guardian is responsible for them.

There is a warm welcome for non-Welsh speakers. There will be translation services in all the main services.

Praying for the G20 meeting in London

April 1, 2009

tearfund rallyOur world has been living beyond its means, financially and environmentally, while the most vulnerable suffer the consequences.

This financial crisis means radical policy changes are being discussed at the forthcoming G20 summit in London tomorrow.

Right now is a unique opportunity to pray for a fairer, more sustainable world.

Tearfund is calling on Christians to put God first and join the movement asking for jobs, justice and a greener economy.

Billions of dollars have been made available and ‘thrown’ at bankers in recent months by Western governments despite their frequent failure in the past to meet aid targets.

There is anger about these double standards in developing countries.

World leaders have the chance to build economic policies that will sustain the environment and will limit the effects of climate change on the most vulnerable communities.

Pray for the G20 leaders and finance ministers as they focus on how to respond to financial crisis and formulate new global financial arrangements
Pray for all Christians to show their concerns at this crucial time through prayer, fasting, marching and simple advocacy approaches to local and national leaders. We worship a God of justice and power. Let’s place our hope in him to work through world leaders at this time to bring about justice and change.


Going to New Word Alive? Get your “ll” right!

March 24, 2009

I have know Gethin Jones, who blogs over at The Grace Race, for a few number of years now. He is the UCCF relay worker at Bangor University, the nearest university to Pwllheli where New Word Alive kicks off next week. He wrote an excellent post over the weekend for you lot who are coming to Wales over the next two weeks to remind you that your not just coming over to western England and that your coming to Wales, a different country. Gethin is a linguist, and his mastery of his subject comes over clearly in his post:

I thought I’d put up a post for the benefit of those of you who’ll be attending New Word Alive this year. Last year, people were wimping out of saying the name of the place where NWA so, being a Welsh speaker, I thought I’d help you out.

The name of the place is Pwllheli (means salt pool). If it helps any of you to see it in the phonetic alphabet, it’s [pʊɬ’hɛlɪ]. Think ‘pullellie’ but change the ‘l’ at the end of the first syllable to that weird sound what Welsh has.

There are two main bits to look out for to get it right.

1) the “ll” – it’s a sound which you don’t get in many languages – if you’d like the technical term, it’s a voiceless alveolar lateral fricative, which in the International Phonetic Alphabet is [ɬ]. “Thanks Geth, that’s a great help!” I hear you cry…

So how do you say it? The shape you need to make with your tongue is the same as that of an ‘l’ but rather than voicing the sound, just blow while your tongue is in that position. (so it’s not like the Welsh ‘ch’ sound or a ‘cw’ sound – just a blowy ‘l’ sound).

2) the ‘w’ – it appears that some people try to put this after the ‘ll’ because in English, /w/ is a glide, so it sort of works like a consonant would – I’ve heard people try to say “Pwllweli”.
But in Welsh, ‘w’ can work as a vowel like the ‘u’ in ‘pull’ so you don’t need to put it in front of another vowel.

Any questions?

Here’s a few more Welsh phrases which you might find useful. How about practising them with your friends this week. And if there are any other phrases you’d like to know, just put them in the comment section here, and I’ll put them up for you in another post during the week.

(the stress almost always goes on the penultimate syllable of each word – I’ll put the stressed syllables in itallics)

Good morning – “Bore da” – ‘bor-reh dar’
Good afternoon – “Prynhawn da” – ‘prinn-haoon dar’
Good evening – “Noswaith dda” – ‘noss-waeeth ddar” (dd – like the ‘th’ of “the”)
Good night – “Nos da” – ‘norse dar’

Thank you – “Diolch” – ‘dee-olch’ (not the ‘ch’ of “chocolate” but like in the German “Bach”)
Welcome / You’re welcome – “Croeso” – ‘croy-saw’
Please – “Os gwelwch yn dda” – ‘oss gwel-uch unn ddar’ (unn as in “done”)

Cup of tea – “Paned o de” – ‘pan-edd or der’
‘Cuppa’ – “Paned”
Cup of coffee – “Paned o goffi” – ‘pan-edd or goffee’

what else would you like to know?

On the whole I think New World Alive benefits the local area. Although it’s an all English affair in the middle of the Welshiest part of Wales (over 70% speak Welsh there), it brings much needing money into the local economy. Also, I understand New Word Alive made a generous financial contribution towards the work of Trobwynt, a children and youth ministry in this rural area of Wales. So it’s good to know that New Word Alive are sensitive to the spiritual need of the Pwllheli area and are not parachuting in and out with tunnel vision! I hope all who go have a blessed time, and please do spare some time to pray about the local churches and their witness among the native Welsh speakers.

Speak up for for the rights of all who are destitute

March 23, 2009

It’s been a busy month so far, but after this week things start winding down for easter. The main project I’ve been working on is this first final chapter of my PhD thesis. I finished the first draft last night, I hope to get it to my supervisor before the end of the week then proceed to start work on the next chapter before Easter if at all possible. On the preaching front it has been my busiest month yet; I have preached every Sunday this month so far. March 1 at Trefor, March 8 at Bangor, March 15 at Llanberis and March 22 (yesterday) at Llangefni.

On the social/political involvement side things are relentless too. Have I mentioned before that I’m the Vice-Chair of the Welsh Language Society? And to add to the pressure Menna, my trusted companion, is the current Chair! At the moment two campaigns are in overdrive, the campaign for equal status and civil rights for Welsh speakers in all sectors of life and the campaign for a new Wales-wide institution to provide Welsh medium eduction in the Higher Education sector.

Menna and Dafydd Iwan, President of Plaid Cymru, at a recent public meeting to discuss the LCO at Caernarfon

Menna and Dafydd Iwan, President of Plaid Cymru, at a recent public meeting to discuss the LCO at Caernarfon

At the moment the Welsh Government in Cardiff are trying to pass an LCO (Legislative Competence Order) which would transfer law making powers in relation to the Welsh Language from Westminster to Cardiff. Since 2006 Wales has had it’s own law making powers of sorts but it still has to get a nod from London in the form of an LCO to do anything! I know, imperialism it still alive and kicking! The Welsh Language Society, along with many other institutions from Wales’s civic society including, interestingly, The Presbyterian Church of Wales, have demanded the LCO transfer “all power” in relation to the Welsh Language to Wales. The moral right to legislate in relation to the Welsh Language should reside with the Welsh people themselves, it’s common sense.

But British unionist MP’s, both from the Labour Party and the Conservative Party, are determined to weaken the LCO in Westminster and return it to Cardiff with limited scope. A weak and toothless LCO would mean that the Welsh Government then couldn’t pass a legislation that would give Welsh speakers equal rights in all spheres of society. It seems that the LCO, at best, will give rope for the Government in Wales to legislate to give Welsh speakers some more rights in relation to the public sector but if Westminster gets it’s way the LCO will not give enough meat for the Government in Wales to legislate so to give Welsh speakers equal rights in the private sector, the sector we live most of our daily lives in!

Anyway, the LCO is going through the consultation process at the moment and the Government in Cardiff and the Select Comity in Westminster are inviting people to bring forward evidence for and against the full transfer of power in relation to the language to Cardiff. Menna gave evidence in Cardiff last week and today she is traveling to London to give evidence to the Select Comity at Westminster this afternoon.

Please pray that the Spirit will lead Menna boldly so she can ‘speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.’ (Proverbs 31:8-9)

I’ll say more about the other issue of Welsh medium education in the HE sector in the next post I think.

Stop Press: Tony Campolo visiting Wales this summer!

March 17, 2009

Tony Campolo, well-known American pastor, author, sociologist, and public speaker is coming to Wales this Summer! He is best known for challenging Evangelical Christians by illustrating how their faith can offer solutions in a world of complexity. With his liberal political and social attitudes, he has been a major proponent for progressive thought and reform in the evangelical community. He has become a leader of the movement called “Red-Letter Christian”, putting the emphasis on the reported words of Jesus, found in many Bible publications in a red font. He is, one of my present day heros.

He’s the keynote speaker at a conference organized by the Baptist Union of Wales to be held at Carmarthen on the 11th and 12th of June. As i understand the Friday night meeting will be held at Tabernacle Chapel and attendance is open to all with a request for a £5 donation. The Saturday event needs people to pre-register – i have no more information about the Saturday event yet.

This is very exiting news indeed!

Pictures of WalesWide conference

March 13, 2009

Yesterday I went to the WalesWide Church planting and transplanting conference. It was an awesome day filled with inspiration from the Spirit. I’ll try and find time over the weekend to write a detailed post about the conference but for now just a post to share some brilliant pictures i took at the conference:

David Ollerton

The rest of the photo set