James Pantefedwyn Foundation

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Capel y Tabernacl, Efailisaf

There has been much talk over the last two years of the harmful effect of the pandemic on the chapels and churches of Wales. In Capel y Tabernacl, Efailisaf, the lockdown led to the launch of a valuable humanitarian service to support those who had been homeless but were about to move into a flat or bare bedsit, to help them turn it into a comfortable home. Following the period of the pandemic, this service has expanded dramatically and now receives support not only from members of the church but also from a large number of residents of the local community and beyond.

A solid foundation was laid for this new service when the pandemic was at its height, mainly because the church managed to keep in constant contact with the members and friends of the church by passing on weekly news about the church's activities and 'broadcast' a virtual service every Sunday morning for eighteen months, over digital platforms such as YouTube and Facebook. Having realized the value of the virtual services, the opportunity was taken to upgrade the technical facilities available in the chapel to offer a 'live' service for those who were unable to attend for various reasons.

Applications were submitted to the Pantyfedwen Foundation and the East Glamorgan District sponsorship scheme for contributions towards the cost and the chapel contributed a further sum to upgrade the resources and equipment, including the internet, laptop and speaker. We are very grateful for the generous support to the initiative which has proven to be a valuable service to our faithful members whose health no longer allows them to attend services, and to others who are unable to attend due to other duties. We also know of some who have watched a service on their mobile phone while waiting for a flight at an airport!

In practice, the streaming system transmitted over the church's Facebook page offers a very good quality picture and sound, considering that no dedicated lighting is needed. The audience is not aware of the location of the camera due to its size - the size of a tea cup - and its position at the back of the chapel (see photo), nor can they see that the 'broadcast' is being controlled from the Deacons’ Room where pictures of the presentations, and slides of the hymns and readings, are seamlessly interwoven for the viewers at home (see photo). The A5 size 'black magic' box which combines the pictures, and a laptop which transfers the stream from the chapel to the viewers' homes, are housed in the Control Room and seven of the members now share the work of directing the 'broadcasts' so that members, friends and visitors can share the blessing of the services wherever they are