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Laughter in church

07 November 2014

SHE has a vivid memory from seven years ago when, after a small fiasco with a children's talk in church which made everybody laugh, she found one of the men in the congregation was quite taken aback. He shook her warmly by the hand and said he had never experienced laughter in church before.

That remark has made the Revd Dr Rosie Dymond, Vicar of Bedwelty and New Tredegar, in Monmouth diocese, determined to "demonstrate that laughter and celebration are entirely in keeping with the followers of the carpenter from Nazareth who spoke of the Kingdom and loved a great meal with friends".

So the idea of the Parish Pantry at St Dingat's, New Tredegar, is to provide the same enjoyment of a great meal with friends in church. So, on the first occasion last July, the hard pews were transformed with cushions, tables were laid, and a dead tree from the churchyard was brought in and made the centrepiece of the decorations. The professional chef, Emma Evans, and her assistant came from a local restaurant and, with a rented oven installed in the vestry, were able to produce excellent dinners for 60 people, mostly with local produce. "I had no idea Caerphilly had so much to offer," Ms Evans says, "from prize pork, vegetables, coffee-makers, and even chocolates. I just had to get creative to design a menu that uses ovens and hobs as little as possible."

"Some people were a little sceptical when they hear that tickets were going to be £25," Dr Dymond says, "but, in the event, diners came from both our local communities, and as far afield as Abergavenny, Bridgend, and Cardiff. There wasn't a spare place." There was a musical entertainment after dinner and, she says, many visitors were "wowed by the beautiful interior of St Dingat's". It proved a very enjoyable evening, with lots of laughter, and also raised funds to support a foodbank in the area.

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