Church Life Over The Years
There are few records of church life during the period that the church was a Wesleyan Methodist chapel.
A few minute books are available at the Gwent Archives, but contain little that tell us about the life of the church and despite considerable efforts it has been difficult to find first-hand accounts. Some information has been gleaned from old copies of the Newport Methodist Magazine.
What we do know though is that the church was one of the few impacted in Newport by the 1904-1905 Welsh Revival. Brynmor Jones in his book, Voices from the Welsh Revival 1904-1905, recalls that a team of revivalists visited the church - including Mary Roberts (sister of the revival’s leader, Evan Roberts), Sidney Evans (Evan Roberts’ best friend) and Sam Jenkins (who wrote many of the revival songs). Evangelistic messages were given, prayers made for a “baptism of the Holy Spirit” and meetings continued until well after midnight.
What is clear though is particularly after the second World War, Wesleyan Methodism in Newport went into a decline. The chapel was built in the 1880’s, to seat over 900 people, but by the 1960’s numbers had decreased significantly. The costs of running the church, including maintenance and repairs was causing the Newport Methodist circuit considerable concern and it was eventually decided to close the church and offer it for sale, with the congregation being dispersed to other, smaller chapels in the town.
In 1974 the building was purchased by Bethel Community Church (then Bethel Temple). Bethel Temple was a Pentecostal church under the auspices of the Assemblies of God. They had been worshipping before that at a church in Commercial Road in Pill (currently owned by New Seasons Church) that had become much too small for it’s purposes.