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.