Monday, July 10, 2006

The Church & Young People 4: Portland Street Congregational Church

In this series on the Church and Young People, I have thus far looked at the attempts of two Calvinistic Methodist Churches to deal with the slide towards an emphasis on entertainment and recreation in their work amongst young people. In this section, I intend to present a church which continued down the road of recreation and entertainment. That Church was Portland Street English Congregational Church, Aberystwyth.

Founded in 1866 to cater for the growing English presence in the town, the church was anxious to secure its future by retaining its youth. In November 1924, a 'Young People's Society' was formed. Meeting every Monday evening, the programme was decided by the young people themselves. To start with, the meetings consisted of singing and games, but later lectures and devotional meetings were added. Mixed dancing was allowed by the deacons for the group's socials. This Society continued until the outbreak of war in 1939 forced its dissolution.

In the early 1960s, a further attempt was made to attract young people. In the words of local historian and member, W. J. Lewis:

'Time and money were spent on equipping one of the basement rooms for table
tennis and another for billiards. Hikes and other activities were arranged and
for a while the movement thrived. Then came the pop song, record sessions, and
the twist, and the basement rooms were soon almost deserted, but the club is
still in existence (W.J Lewis, The English Congregational Church, Portland
Street, Aberystwyth 1866-1966,

The club is no longer in existence, Portland Street Church having amalgamated with St. David's Presbyterian Church in Bath Street. The basement rooms are now used by a theatre company, while the church building is a doctor's surgery.



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