The Union of Welsh Independents is made up of some 430 churches, around 23,000 members, over 3,00 children and young people, and 80 ministers. Most of the churches are Welsh speaking.
The churches of the UWI have their roots in the Puritan movement of the 17th century. The first church was established at Llanfaches, in South East Wales in 1639. Throughout their history there has been a strong emphasis on effective preaching of the gospel, and educating and empowering church members who have always been known for their strong social conscience.
The Union is a free and voluntary body. Its aim is to help, as far as possible, to make churches fellowships that will be free to serve Jesus Christ.” (Dr R Tudur Jones) Today it is a forum for discussion, seeking to encourage the churches to face the challenge of being church in the 21st century, offering resources that can revitalize worship and mission.
Currently the denomination is working on a new mission strategy. The AGAPE Programme, which ran from the beginning of 2005 to the end of 2007, was regarded very much as a foundation programme, a period of adapting, experimenting and seeking out new ways of promoting the work of the Kingdom. Many lessons were learned, and as the Union implements its current mission strategy, good use is being made of them. This new strategy is known as ‘The Welsh Independents’ Development Programme’, and, though it was planned to run from 2009 to 2013, it will now extend through to 2018 and continue to encourage congregations to become missional in their outlook while engaging in menaingful social action.
The main challenge for the Union at this time is to enable churches to witness more effectively in their communities. Various projects will be undertaken to secure a more holistic approach to mission, and these will include such things as local outreach, projects involving care of the creation, alternative forms of ministry and aspects of Christian education.
More information about the Union of Welsh Independents can be found at www.annibynwyr.org. The website is bilingual in (Welsh and English).