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Out of Taste, Out of Time: The Future of Nonconformist Religion in Wales in the Twenty-first Century

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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.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2008

More about this publication?
  • Contemporary Wales is at the forefront of research into economic, political and social sciences relating to Wales. It contains both academic and practitioner-based articles, annual economic and legal reviews, and book reviews. Its interdisciplinary content drawing on current research on Wales makes the journal essential reading for students and researchers across a range of subject areas, including political and social policy, history, law, media and languages. Contemporary Wales has published articles in English and in Welsh.

    Mae Contemporary Wales wedi’i gyhoeddi’n gan Wasg Prifysgol Cymru fel llwyfan ar gyfer ymchwil blaengar ar Gymru o safbwynt y gwyddorau economaidd, gwleidyddol a chymdeithasol. Mae'n cynnwys cyfuniad o erthyglau gan academyddion ac ymarferwyr, adolygiadau economaidd a chyfreithiol blynyddol, ac adolygiadau o gyhoeddiadau yn y maes. Mae natur rhyngddisgyblaethol y cynnwys sy'n seliedig ar yr ymchwil diweddaraf yn golygu bod y cyfnodolyn yn hanfodol i wleidyddion, gwneuthurwyr polisi, y cyfryngau, gwasanaethau cyhoeddus, llywodraeth leol yn ogystal â fyfyrwyr ac ymchwilwyr mewn ystod eang o feysydd gan gynnwys polisi gwleidyddol a chymdeithasol, hanes, y gyfraith, y cyfryngau a ieithoedd. Mae Contemporary Wales wedi cyhoeddi erthyglau yn y Gymraeg a’r Saesneg.

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