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Ebenezer, Ammanford
51°47′29″N 3°59′19″W / 51.7914°N 3.9887°W / 51.7914; -3.9887Coordinates: 51°47′29″N 3°59′19″W / 51.7914°N 3.9887°W / 51.7914; -3.9887
OS grid reference SN629121
Location Lloyd Street, Ammanford
Country Wales
Denomination Baptist
History
Founded 1849
Architecture
Architectural type Chapel
Style Early 19th century
Completed 1851

Ebenezer is a Baptist chapel in Ammanford, Carmarthenshire. Services at Ebenezer are conducted in the Welsh language.

Early history

The chapel was founded in 1849 by baptists who previously worshipped at neighbouring Llandyfan and Saron. The earliest meetings are said to have taken place in a house in Field Street, with thirteen members in the first instance. The following year, a new chapel which was named Ebenezer was built near Quay Street adjacent to a property known as Primrose Cottage. Primrose Cottage was subsequently acquired by the chapel and served as the chapel caretaker's residence until it was demolished in the 1960s and replaced by a car park. The Rev. Daniel Jones of Felinfoel supported the church in its early years, baptising three female members in February 1850 and chairing the committee which oversaw the building of the chapel.

The first minister was Dafydd Morris, a native of Pembrokeshire whose pastorate included Ebenezer and Soar, Llandyfan. Morris was minister for three years. The second minister, from 1862 until 1867 was Dafydd Williams.

The ministry of T,F. Williams, 1867-1907

In 1867, the Rev T.F. Williams commenced his long ministry at Ebenezer. The pastorate included Saron, Llandybie, until 1891 but thereafter Williams restricted his ministry to Ebenezer alone. At the start of Williams's ministry there were around fifty members but by the time of his retirement in 1907 the membership numbered 670. During these decades the population grew rapidly as Cross Inn, renamed Ammanford in the 1880s, became a major centre of the anthracite coal trade. The chapel building proved to be too small, resulting in Ebenezer being rebuilt and enlarged in 1877. Ebenezer was again extended in 1895. In 1907, on completion of forty years as minister, Williams was presented with a testemonial "as a token of their regard and deep affection."

In the later years of Williams's ministry a number of smaller churches were formed in the locality as branches of Ebenezer. A schoolroom had been located at Pantyffynnon since the 1850s and this was established as a church in its own right in 1904, known as Bethel. Another schoolroom at Penybanc, built in 1893, became a church in its own right in 1912, known as Pisgah. An English Baptist Church was established at Ammanford in 1904 and finally, during the pastorate of John Griffiths, Seion, Tirydail was opened in 1913.

The ministry of John Griffiths, 1908-1925

John Griffiths was inducted as minister of Ebenezer in 1908, having previously served at Ponciau near Wrexham. At that time, Ebenezer had around 600 members.

In 1919, Griffiths was elected to represent Ammanford on Carmarthenshire County Council as a Progressive candidate, comfortably defeating a Labour candidate. A few months later, however, Griffiths resigned his pastorate to move to Llandudno. Within a few weeks, however, Griffiths reversed his decision and returned to Ammanford. He left for Cardiff some years later.

Later history

Griffiths was succeeded in 1927 by R.T. Evans, who came to Ammanford from Newport, Pembrokeshire. Evans was minister for seven years before being appointed Secretary of the Welsh Baptist Union in 1934. On his retirement from that role twenty five years later, Evans was elevated to the presidency of the union and the annual meeting of the Union was held at Ebenezer, his former church, in 1959.

The poet E. Llwyd Williams was minister of Ebenezer from 1936 until his early death in 1960. Williams won the chair at the National Eisteddfod at Rhyl in 1953 and the following years won the crown at the National Eisteddfod at Ystradgynlais. In 1962, Garfield Eynon moved from Seion, Cwmaman to become minister of Ebenezer and remained until his departure to Ebenezer, Aberavon in 1975.

John Talfryn Jones became minister at Ebenezer in 1977 and has served for over forty years. Like many other churches, Ebenezer remained closed throughout 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic

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