01/Sep/2014 - Last News Update: 18:50

Church group in Llandudno meets at Cineworld cinema

Category: Wales

Published: 15th Jul 2012 09:53:38

An evangelical Christian group is holding its meetings in a cinema in an attempt to make its followers feel more comfortable.

The church, called i61, began using Cineworld in Llandudno after it outgrew its previous home in a pub.

It is one of a growing number of congregations which prefer alternative venues to traditional churches.

Senior pastor Steve Houghton said: "If they were hitting the mark they would be full - and they are not."

With discussions like "God at the Movies" and "Twitter, Facebook and the Lord's Prayer," i61 was never going to be your typical church.

Its venue is hardly traditional either, meeting every week in a Conwy cinema.

Founded in 2006, the group outgrew its first home in a pub, and can now be seen in screens four and five on Sundays at Llandudno's Cineworld.

Senior pastor Steve Houghton, 54, said he wanted a contemporary independent church where people felt "comfortable".

Statistically, traditional forms of church are dying all over Britain. The current trajectory isn't looking very good."”

i61 aims to provide an alternative place of worship for people who do not wish to visit traditional churches or follow traditional methods.

The name - Isaiah, chapter 61 - was ultimately chosen by younger congregation members because it reminded them of iPhones and iPads.

Mr Houghton, a businessman and co-founder of the church, has no formal qualification as a minister, believing life experience, and 13 years with a Baptist church, was his "training ground".

He said: "I was in my mid 30s when I started going to church. I was an atheist, I avoided it like the plague up until then.

"I remember thinking how hard it was for people to go into a church."

After outgrowing its pub origins, a deal was struck with Cineworld to use the premises, for gatherings attended by up to 150 members.

The group has a band, practice drama, and tries to use imaginative ways of teaching traditional values.

"I did a message once called Twitter, Facebook and the Lord's Prayer, because probably today God would use social media to try and communicate with us," Mr Houghton said.

Despite the differences to traditional churches, Mr Houghton says i61's message is "fundamentally Christian".

"There's a generation now that don't know where to go if they have spiritual questions," he said.

"They think 'Oh, I didn't want a bible over my head'.

"I wouldn't be negative about churches at all, but if they were hitting the mark they would be full - and they are not."

Mr Houghton describes i61 as an independent church, but it is a member of the Evangelical Alliance Wales (EAW).

Elfed Godding, EAW national director and a friend of Mr Houghton's, said i61 was innovative and "ticked all the boxes".

Mr Godding said in theory anyone could start up a similar group, but the "acid test" for a church to become one of their members was whether the "church starts and operates successfully and whether it is endorsed by other existing churches".

Paul Williams, Llandudno Cineworld's general manager, said branches in London and Manchester ran church groups.

"Sundays are usually a quieter day for us anyway. It's good to have people in the building," he said.

The Church in Wales does not compile figures or categorise alternative church groups, unlike the Church of England, which calls them "fresh expressions".

Andy John, Bishop of Bangor, said: "The Church in Wales is committed to finding new ways of expressing Anglican identity and the many successful projects that we run have become a vital part of church life today."

Baptist minister James Karran, who ran a church group in the bars of Cardiff for four years, said: "The way things are going, statistically, traditional forms of church are dying all over Britain.

"The current trajectory isn't looking very good."

BBC News External Link Show Citation

Latest News

Harvard Citation

BBC News, 2012. Church group in Llandudno meets at Cineworld cinema [Online] (Updated 15th Jul 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1440597/Church-group-in-Llandudno-meets-at-Cineworld-cinema [Accessed 1st Sep 2014]

News In Other Categories

  • Woman's body discovered in Loch Morlich, near Aviemore

    A woman's body has been found in a loch in the Cairngorms.
  • Boris Island airport plan 'to be rejected'

    A plan for an island airport in the Thames estuary will be rejected, the BBC understands.
  • 'Cloud' concerns after celebrity picture leaks

    Experts have raised concerns over the security of "cloud" storage sites following the leak of intimate pictures of celebrities.
  • Nottingham's first free school opens in Sherwood

    The first free school in Nottingham has opened with an intake of about 100 year seven pupils.
  • Bristol Academy extends reach overseas with first foreign students

    With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
  • Boris Island airport plan 'to be rejected'

    A plan for an island airport in the Thames estuary will be rejected, the BBC understands.