Just before the last millennium celebrations, someone in Wales had a cool idea.
In 1999, Dan Boucher, Evangelical Alliance Wales' then
Assembly Liaison Officer, invited a number of churches and organisations
to form an umbrella body for the Christian voluntary sector in the
Gweini was born - a collaboration between Cornerstone Church,
Swansea, Evangelical Alliance Wales and Tearfund.
Since then, Gweini has established local groups across Wales,
harnessing and mobilising Christian action in their localities. Through
conferences and workshops, thousands of volunteers have been presented
with opportunities of service and encouraged to reach out to others with
the practical love of Jesus.
Reports and surveys have been published, revealing the extent to
which local churches are working together to make a difference in Wales.
Last year saw the publication of Power of Ten, how Christian
collaborations are changing the face of Wales.
Gweini is at the heart of promoting and encouraging a wide range of
programmes, from food banks, CAP and Street Pastors to local night
shelters. Tens of thousands of residents in Wales are being cared for,
kept safe and lifted out of poverty through the enterprising
intervention of local Christians.
Amongst other highlights, last year Gweini hosted the Equipping the
Church in an Addictive Society conference, showcasing how Christian
charities are helping people deal with the effects of addictive
A number of the speakers and participants spoke openly about their
addictive histories and how personal faith and the help of other
Christians had brought them through.
It also gathered the expertise and
support of specialists throughout Wales with a view to publishing a
Manifesto for Wales. This will represent Christian perspectives to the
various political parties in the build up to the next government
But Gweini is facing financial difficulty and it's launched an appeal
to raise money to continue its work. As a charity that is reliant upon
the support of Evangelical Alliance of Wales.
The Reverend Elfed Godding, national director for Evangelical Alliance Wales is realistic about the current state of play.
"To be frank, Gweini's future is in danger. We are in great financial
need at a time when the need for this work is greatest. Without the
generous support of those who care deeply about a Christian voice
speaking out in Wales' voluntary sector, Gweini's future looks bleak.
"This is a need that is close to my heart. Gweini is at the very core
of the Welsh Alliance's vision and all that we are working for to give
Christians a voice. Your generosity will enable us to speak directly
into your communities by developing more local Gweinis, expressing
across the Welsh constituencies all that Gweini is doing nationally."
In his impassioned appeal, Godding illustrates Gweini's role as it
hosts a groundbreaking conference in January. One in three: the church's
response to violence against women will be held on 28 January at
Glenwood Church, Cardiff.
The conference will help articulate a response
to violence against women, which includes physical, mental and sexual
abuse, whether this takes place in churches, homes, friendships or
According to Christian charity, Restored, violence against women is
as much an issue within the church as outside. It seems that the gates
of the faithful offer no greater protection than anyone else's.
the faith community may create a conducive context for violence against
women through promoting ideas of male headship and female submission.
This is only one reason why Gweini is so important to Wales and the
UK. It takes on big, controversial subjects but in a tone of voice that
is helpful, supportive and practical.