Church to close - but new £1m centre is still on cards
CHURCH-GOERS have been left devastated to find out St Paul's, Aberavon, will close at the end of the month.
The Post was contacted by a number of parishioners of the church, who were told the news last week.
Now they are calling on anyone with memories of the church to attend the final service at the end of the month.
The church recently received a £500,000 investment boost as part of a £1 million project to build a new community centre from the Big Lottery Fund.
Called the St Paul's Centre, it will include a cafe, shop and garden.
It will replace the current centre which stands in the church grounds, but is no longer fit for purpose.
It is understood this will still go ahead, but will not include worship provision.
Canon Nigel Cahill, Rector of Aberavon, said: "Any church closure is a great sadness for the locality, but thankfully our worship and witness to God continues as we have three other churches in the parish, and St Mary's, the parish church whose foundation dates back to the 12th Century, serves the same county borough ward, and is just a short distance from St Paul's.
"We hope people from St Paul's will join with those at St Mary's and give worship in the area a fresh impetus."
Tony Llewellyn has been attending St Paul's for his entire life, and has sang in the church choir for 67 years.
Now aged 71, he says he's filled with sadness at the news of the closure.
"It's a little bit of a blow," he said.
"A lot of people have got married there and so on.
"It's sad, it's a beautiful church, Arthur Pendarvis built the church for the community, it cost us nothing.
"But the congregation had gone down, the older people were keeping the church going."
The church closes on October 31, but the final service will be held at 9.15am on October 27 — and Mr Llewellyn urged anyone with memories to attend the closing service.
Mr Cahill added: "The closure of St Paul's Church in Aberavon marks a new transition in the life of the parish.
"We are enormously excited about the opening of the new St Paul's Centre in 2015, in the same area, which will enable the church to meet the needs of the community in a vibrant and meaningful way, catering for groups such as youth clubs, pensioner clubs, toddler groups and job clubs.
"It will also run basic skills courses and so help the church to engage with people as the 21st Century unfolds."