HEBRON Church in Cogan is emerging from lockdown under a new roof. 

A few years ago the relatively small but faithful congregation at Hebron Church in Cogan set about raising money to renovate the church building, restoring the original roof with its striking Queens Trusses back in view. 

In the 1980’s a false ceiling was installed to help with heating efficiency. 

This was a practical decision at the time, but as extensive renovations were now necessary, they uncovered and restore the original high ceiling.

Penarth Times: Hebron Church, located in Pill StreetHebron Church, located in Pill Street

One unintended consequence has been that the acoustics inside the building are once again what the congregation of 1904 would have enjoyed.  All they need now is singing to return!

Another key change to the design of the restored building is that it includes a crèche. 

"It’s important to us that families feel comfortable in our building and we try our best to help people of all ages feel relaxed and welcome in the services," said Nathan Scott-Cook, one of the church leaders. 

Penarth Times: The Creche constructionThe Creche construction

"The crèche is situated in the main hall, so that children and their parents or carers can see and hear the service throughout.

"We are indebted to the late James Long, a local architect and long-term resident of the Penarth area. 

"James not only applied all of his professional skill, but also his kind and gentle nature, in helping the church produce a detailed schedule of work and managing the project. 

"Little did we know, that though semi-retired, this would be James’s final work in his chosen field of architecture.

Penarth Times: James Long working on the church James Long working on the church

"We are so grateful for his help and remember him often. We are also thankful for the skilful work of Camilleri Roofing, Humphries Stone Masons and Edmunds Webster Joinery.

"The renovation work was completed prior to the outbreak of Covid-19 and we were excited to be back in the building. 

"Little did we know what was coming!

"During the period of strict local lockdown, inevitably there would be changes in the way the church could run. 

"We heard various stories of attempted services on Zoom - many of them included funny anecdotes, usually ending in the now well-repeated phrase: 'You’re on mute!' 

"At Hebron we chose a simpler approach of connecting via a WhatsApp group; so every Sunday morning at the usual service time, we simply shared a pre-recorded audio talk, some songs, prayers and a children’s activity, which was often the most inspiring and joyful part. 

"An unexpected and positive consequence of this new format was that participation during the service increased. 

Penarth Times: The front stained glass windowThe front stained glass window

"Expressing thoughts in a social gathering can be quite daunting for many people, but the WhatsApp Service allowed people to express themselves from the comfort of their own home.

"Thankfully, now we are meeting again face to face, this newfound confidence to participate continues to grow.

"Not everyone of course, had access to WhatsApp or wanted to use it. 

"For these individuals it was vital that we ‘went the extra mile’ and found other ways to connect.

So, what’s next for Hebron Church Cogan? They have a new website and would encourage everyone to take a look: hebronchurchcogan.co.uk. 

"Perhaps Hebron is a church where you too can learn to walk with Jesus," he added. 

"He is a source of peace, comfort and compelling inspiration for many of us - otherwise ordinary people."

They meet every Sunday morning from 10.30 to 11.30am for an All Age Service or monthly Café Church and all are welcome to attend. 

Penarth Times: Hebron Church construction in 1904Hebron Church construction in 1904

Words of one of the congregation, Gareth Tucknott: “Hebron church is such an encouragement and support to me.

"I’m no ‘church man’ (or so I thought) but they’ve taught me that this is ok and that church is not the building but just interested people talking about God.

"‘Get fed and stay hungry’, ‘Draw close to God and He will draw close to you’.  

"I’m a bit of a loner (prefer my own company), don’t like being told, and am not keen on ‘close sitting’ either haha.

"Surprisingly, I’ve made the closest of friends here.

"There’s no pressure to be in the building and I come and go.  When there, I do actually enjoy the hymns now and even more so the talks, which are always relatable and something to chew on over the week(s).

"I encouraged my mother to come along to this church some years ago and also my uncle. Commenting for mum, she’s so thankful for the friends she’s made at Hebron.

"She’s remained upbeat, in spite of a nursing home Covid lockdown, which is no mean feat believe me.

"Church on WhatsApp was transcribed to paper and CD and delivered at the nursing home door; ‘These have saved me’ she says. 

"I’ve heard many people say that they don’t just want the ‘same old’ after lockdown and they can’t just go back the same.

"I would suggest that you could do no better than to come and make friends with the folk here. Just saying.”