GodFirst Church Barry, a young plant into the Welsh town of the same name, officially partnered with Advance at the recent UK Conference. Rhys and Rachel Gronow give us an introduction to their fellowship and the journey to partnership with Advance.
Can you give us a brief bio of the Gronow family?
We are Rhys and Rachel Gronow. We live in Barry, a seaside town on the south coast of Wales. We have two boys; Elliot who is nearly seven and Jude who has just turned four. Currently we both work full time, Rhys as a Driving Instructor and Rachel as a Teaching Assistant in a local school.
We met in Cheltenham, England in 2007 having both joined a new church plant in the town. We fell in love and got married just over a year later. In 2015, we followed a clear calling from the Lord to move to Rhys’ hometown, Barry.
Can you tell us a bit about your town?
We love living in Barry and enjoy taking the boys to the beach or along the sea front on their scooters. Barry is most famous for an extremely popular comedy TV series, within the UK, called ‘Gavin & Stacey’, featuring James Corden.
Looking back to a century ago, in 1913 Wales was the largest coal exporting port in the world! The town has been undergoing a massive transformation over the last decade; it is in the process of changing from a post-industrial, poverty-stricken, forgotten coastal town to an ‘up-and-coming’, affordable housing alternative for young professionals.
The town’s proximity to Cardiff has also led to many local Christians in Barry attending thriving churches there – we are keen to for some of them to get a call to return to churches in Barry!
Tell us about your church plant, GodFirst Barry?
GodFirst Church Barry officially started in our lounge in February this year. We are still very much in the early ‘planting’ stage!
Through God’s providence and leading we connected with another couple who have strong connections with Advance and a heart for seeing a new gospel-centred church within the town. So in our lounge, with six adults and six children, we started worshiping, praying and seeking the Lord together on behalf of Barry.
God has been so gracious to us and has lead us step by step along this journey. We are enjoying our first season of ministry and have already seen growth and new life. In fact, we hope to baptise a few new brothers and sisters early next year, which is such a joy and privilege!
Since February, we have moved venues twice and we now gather in a community hall which includes great facilities and more space. We are currently gathering around forty people at our Sunday meetings.
We seem to be welcoming new people every Sunday, some of whom do not yet know Jesus!
We have spent most of the first year reminding each other of the good news of the Gospel and focusing on how to put our core values of ‘Mission, Discipleship and Community’ into action. We launched a couple of social community groups and a discipleship program. We have also just completed our first Alpha course, which has been really fruitful. We look forward to our first year anniversary in February where we will celebrate what God has done and call on Him to move again, by His Spirit, in our wonderful town.
Why do you think church partnership is important?
For us, the support of other churches within Advance has been vital. We have been encouraged by the stories of what God is doing in other churches within the Advance Wales hub and inspired by other couples, just like us, led by God to plant churches. It certainly helps that Advance itself is such a good fit for us personally! Advance’s mission to plant and strengthen churches along with the movement’s values, mirror our desires for the local church – our hearts desire for GodFirst Barry is that we would be a ‘gospel-centred, missionally-focused, Spirit-filled, disciple-making, elder-led’ church.
When we connected up with Advance we couldn’t have imagined the strength of support, advice, prayer, equipping and friendship we would enjoy in such a short period. It has been invaluable to us at GodFirst and we are so excited to be apart of this growing movement. We are so thankful for all the encouragement we have received from many other Advance churches in Wales and further afield.