Out of Taste, Out of Time: The Future of Nonconformist Religion in Wales in the twenty First Century

Paul Chambers

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    From the high point of the 1904 Revival and the 1914 Welsh Church Act, where as many as three-quarters of the Welsh population were regular church or chapel goers, Wales is now experiencing the most rapid and deepest rate of religious decline in the UK. Nonconformity, the traditional focus for Welsh religious and national identity, has been most affected - both numerically and in terms of its influence on Welsh society and culture. Today, it is a shadow of its former self and its future is growing evermore uncertain. Commencing with a context-setting overview of religion in contemporary Wales, I seek to chart and extrapolate past and present trends within Nonconformity in order to offer a prognosis for the future. This prognosis is not good. Mainstream congregations are ageing and shrinking, ministerial vocations are declining, chapels are closing and the long-term survival of indigenous denominations is in doubt. Evangelicals have proved more resilient but are still subject to the same social and cultural forces that have decimated the mainstream. A very few congregations are imaginatively seeking to re-connect to the general population through community based social action, but significantly, the majority seem incapable or unwilling of positively responding to the need to adapt to a transformed Wales.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)86 - 100
    Number of pages14
    JournalContemporary Wales
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2008


    • nonconformist religion in wales


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