Saturday 17 August 2013

Keeping a low profile

Earlier this week the S4C current affairs programme Hacio took a look at the activities of The Victory Church in Cwmbrân. Victory is embroiled in a number of controversies, not least for its claims relating to faith healing.

Whatever else can be said about this American-style evangelical church which is part of the Elim Pentecostal group, it is not shy.

Back in Carmarthen Towy Community Church appears to have decided that it would rather not have any publicity after all. Having once again removed an article announcing plans for a Mercy Ministries hostel for young women in Carmarthen, the church's website has gone through further drastic shrinkage, and now consists of little more than a map and contact details, although it says "as you browse our site we hope you'll catch something of our vision for the future and consider getting on board for the ride!"

The church is now about as reclusive as Howard Hughes used to be.

But while the church has been busy scaling back its web presence, its bowling alley has been beefing up its marketing.

It now has a rather scrappy website (here), and some pages on Facebook.

Despite receiving huge amounts of money from the Lottery, the county council and other public sources, not a single word of Welsh appears on either of these sites.

The Lottery's policy on these matters is clear-cut. The opening paragraph of the guidance to anyone seeking funding states:

If you receive funding from the Big Lottery Fund to deliver a project in Wales, you will need to do
so bilingually, in line with Big Lottery Fund’s Welsh Language Scheme.

As we have seen on other occasions, the church does not have a good track record when it comes to keeping promises.

When Carmarthenshire County Council's Census Working Group gets round to looking at what the council could do to help the language, one question it might want to consider is the council's habit of funding and promoting organisations in the county which do not even pay lip service to the language of half its people.


Mrs Angry said...

What is it about bowling that Towy Church thinks is so suitable for a venue in Carmarthen? Is there much demand for the game in the area? Is it even popular as a form of leisure activity any more? The charges seem rather high: are there concessionary prices for the unemployed, retired, or children? What is their business model? How much revenue must the venture generate, or will it be subsidised in some way?

Cneifiwr said...

You're right. At £8.50 for a child I think they must be counting on tourist trade - the main route to the West runs very close to it.

Given that almost every penny cam from the taxpayer and the Lottery, it's fair to say that the whole thing is heavily subsidised. How many other businesses have all their start-up costs paid?

Any profit will be ploughed into community projects, the church says, without specifying what those projects are. Mercy Ministries perhaps? Contributions towards the cost of the planned new church (sorry, auditorium)?

There is an almost complete lack of transparency.

Mrs Angry said...

It seems to me that in the public interest this generosity with the hard earned taxes of local residents should be subject to a rather more rigorous application of scrutiny.

Simply incredible.

Anonymous said...

I was there the other night - a Saturday. Had a lot of fun. Place more than half empty though.