July 30, 2008

Organist Idea is Key for Chapel

By paul lewis

Meet one church organist who will never miss a service.

This musician doesn't catch colds, go on holiday or have any family commitments.

Because the congregation at one of Port Talbot's oldest chapels will be belting out the hymns - accompanied by a computer.

Like many other smaller churches and chapels across the UK, Beulah Presbyterian Chapel in Margam had problems finding a replacement when its organist had to stand down owing to ill- health.

So when the chips were down, the enterprising worshippers turned to microchips to get them out of trouble.

Courtesy of a pounds400 grant from Corus, the landmark chapel now has a new software package that allows a computer, linked to a keyboard, to play up to 400 hymns.

"Our organist wasn't well," said Deaconess Wendy Jones.

"We were looking around for a new one for more than a year and were having to manage without.

"Then we heard that many churches and chapels were deciding to use computers."

Beulah Chapel, known locally as the Round Chapel, was the only building to survive the demolition of Groes Village in 1975.

Back then, 21 houses and a school were destroyed to make way for the westbound M4 motorway.

The chapel, dating back to 1838, was dismantled brick by brick and rebuilt in Tollgate Park in Margam, where it reopened in April 1976 and is now a CADW listed building.

"Being a small and elderly congregation, our funds are limited and wouldn't stretch to the costs of the computer," added Wendy.

"It's been marvellous for us, and we're very grateful to Corus for their support."

Corus community spokesman Keith Farron said: "Beulah Chapel has a long and colourful history.

"And local people proved how treasured it is by insisting that it wasn't moved to St Fagan's Museum after the 1975 demolition.

"Corus is happy to support such a cause as this.

"We are all part of the area's cultural heritage.

"Hopefully, this new computer equipment will help the chapel to attract new members to ensure the survival of one of our oldest institutions."

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