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In the midst of Welsh government Faith Tourism Action Plan, Welsh pentecostals ask them to do more to protect , commemorate, and celebrate this heritage
“Why Wales should do more to celebrate its rich pentecostal heritage” was the topic chosen by Darren Millar, Assembly Member for Clwyd West who earlier this year was himself ordained as a minister by the Assemblies of God, for a short debate held recently in the Senedd on the topic of Welsh pentecostalism.
The three main branches of the Pentecostal Church in the UK - the Assemblies of God, Elim Pentecostal Church and the Apostolic Church - have celebrated or will be celebrating their centenaries (in 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively).
The Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles in 1906 is considered the birthplace of the Pentecostal movement - which, combined with the Charismatic movement, now makes up 8% of the world's population.
But the Welsh revival of 1904 was most certainly a precursor. The leadership of three main branches mentioned above, has been significantly influenced by the conversions during the revival in Wales of DP Williams and George and Stephen Jeffries alone.
FAITH TOURIST ACTION PLAN
The debate is very appropriate now that the Welsh Government has been promoting its Faith Tourism Action Plan.
Pentecostal movement's spiritual legacy lives on and hundreds of Christians come to Wales every year to visit places associated with the 1904 Revival and the pentecostal movement.
“Wales has a very rich Pentecostal heritage that has had an enormous impact on Christianity here in the UK and around the world”, Millard said during the debate.
“We need to do more to protect and commemorate and to celebrate this heritage, and to acknowledge the ongoing and positive contribution that they make to the Wales of today”, he added.
Kenneth Skates, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sports and Tourism believed that “it’s essential that we continue to promote faith tourism.”
“New content on faith tourism has been created on the Visit Wales website, including four articles identifying the must-see sacred places to visit in each of the four regions”, Skates affirmed.
The deputy recognised the importance of Wales religious buildings to national heritage and confirmed his commitment of “ helping safeguard our historic and religious buildings. This includes listing buildings and, wherever possible, providing grants for repair and conservation”, he concluded.
PENTECOSTALISM AND ASYLUM SEEKERS
Among the numbers of asylum seekers coming to Wales there have also been many who are Pentecostal Christians. Of note are the many Eritrean pentecostals who started to arrive in significant numbers around seven years ago, due to their government's clampdown on the pentecostal church.
Many have since had their applications for asylum accepted and have made Wales their home. Some have started their own fellowships but many also attend English-language churches where their presence and contribution is much valued.
You can read the transcript of the debate here