Council leader Meryl Gravell and chief executive Mark James are very enthusiastic backers of Towy Community Church and its Project Xcel, so much so that they have taken to showering this evengelical group with public money to build a bowling alley, etc. Meryl told us only this week that the work the church is doing will help reduce the burden on the council's social services budget. It sounds wonderful, doesn't it? Almost too good to be true.
Buried deep on the church's website is a piece about Mercy Ministries, and it plans to open a Mercy Ministries house right here in Carmarthen. The website is fairly terse about this project, but just in case anyone decides to edit the church's website, here is what it currently says in full:
Why not, indeed? Or why not widen our search, and put Mercy Ministries into a search engine. Perhaps Mr James's office was too busy to do this, but if they had typed "Mercy Ministries Scandal" into Google, they would have been in for a shock.
Mercy Ministries was founded by an American fundamentalist Christian called Nancy Alcorn, and it now has affiliates in several countries, including the UK. Mrs Alcorn even has her own Youtube channel, where you can listen to her preaching about demonic possession and the need to cast out demons. As with so many other organisations of its kind, Mercy Ministries also teaches that homosexuality is inherently sinful, and it is virulently opposed to abortion.
You will find plenty of accusations on the Internet about the methods used by Mercy Ministries, including repeated allegations of exorcisms to cast out demons in cases such as eating disorders, and Mrs Alcorn is very critical of modern psychiatric practice.
In 2008 the respected Sydney Morning Herald investigated the Australian affiliate and uncovered practices which eventually led to the closure of two homes there. It is worth a read.
Towy Community Church does not yet operate a Mercy Ministries house, but it is a partner church of Mercy Ministries UK and intends to open a residential centre.
Carmarthenshire County Council needs to open its eyes and ask itself some searching questions.
Towy Community Church is not the only evangelical grouping to have sprung up in Carmarthen in recent years. Another is Living Word, a group understood to have some very influential adherents. Here is an extract from its Statement of Faith:
'That those who believe in him look forward to the sure and certain hope of eternal life whereas those who do not will spend eternity separated from Christ, in hell'
Of course, the more traditional Welsh chapels continue to minister to their flocks alongside these newer organisations. The Bethel Evangelical Church has applied for planning permission to change the old MFI building in Carmarthen into a community centre, and there's another one in Ammanford doing the same, without massive financial support from the county council.
A final thought. It would seem that the decision last week to loan Towy Community Church £275,000 on top of the huge sums already received in grants will not need to be ratified by our democratically elected councillors in full council because the Executive Board gave itself powers to complete the deal back in May.
What an extraordinary story: does Camarthenshire County Council not have a safeguarding duty of care to the vulnerable girls and young women who may be taken into the care of this centre? CCC may think it is getting Big Society style voluntary support, but ought that to preclude a rigorous examination of some of their extreme views and attitudes, and their suitability to provide treatment?
Now why does this not surprise me?
I long ago came to the conclusion that the two prize nannies of Carmarthenshire County Council, its leader and its chief executive, are the nearest to cloned Cheshire Cats - being worth approximately the same amount of credibility.
Let us hope, the Lord in his wisdom will put an end to this reign of the clowns, sooner rather than later.
It's some small consolation to know that all humans will one day be forced to shake off their mortal coils. Anyone for a wake?
Frightening! Well done you for exposing this scandal. I hope the members of this rotten council read your piece and speak out. Fat chance!
I believe Carmarthenshire County Council is under investigation by the audit office for mis-allocation of funds...well, this report therefore comes as no surprise. The Gravel family would appear to be trading off the rugby player's fame AND the fact that Meryl Gravel certainly seems to have the face for tiaras!!!
I thought the film "The Laundry Girls" about 'fallen women/girls' in Ireland was bad but this Mercy Ministry scam sounds worse. What on earth are we letting ourselves in for if this goes ahead and will it be an excuse to take funding away from such organisations as Women's Aid? Is that what the Blessed Meryl means when she says it will save money for social services? This county gets more Stalinist by the day.
I was interested to discover an Anglesey link to MM:
Mercy Ministries has caused great harm to my daughter and my family due to their poor therapy practices and cult-like traits.
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