Cynonfardd Eistedfodd 2005

Croeso -- Welcome

Welcome to my album of an unusual old-fashioned cultural event.

These are photographs of the One Hundred Sixteenth competition at the Dr. T. C. Edwards Memorial (Welsh) Congregational Church of Edwardsville, Pennsylvania, not exactly its real name but a combination of the names used in the last one hundred and twenty five years.

Please visit last year's album for more on the church, the congregation and the community. This year we're going to concentrate on the church building and the event. This page will look at the fine old building in more detail. Once there were forty five Welsh churches in Luzerne County, PA. Many remain with dwindling congregations and many have been absorbed into the mainstream and lost their "Welshness". Two blocks from here the First Welsh Baptist congregation is now the Green Street Baptist Chapel.

We'll start at the same place this year, the notice board on the corner of Main and Church Streets in Edwardsville. The sign with Y Draig Goch (The Red Dragon) is updated with the correct date for the last Saturday in April 2005 and the dogwood hovers over the rhodadendron in the background. A cloudy but mild spring day welcomed us to this landmark of Welsh Heritage in Northeast Pennsylvania, not unlike the weather over in the land of our ancestors.

As we continue past the spring flowers to the stairs we see another sign of the history embodied in this congregation. (If you need handicapped access there is a ramp around the back of the building for your use.) The memorial on the side of the church is an Honor Roll for "Members of the Welsh Congregational Church and Sunday School who Participated in the World War." It was erected before the Second act in the World War of the twentieth century. Eighty two soldiers and five nurses from this one congregation! Three soldiers and one nurse are marked with a Star in honor of their sacrifice. Members of the community continue to serve their countries overseas missions.

As you enter, the central feature of this building is the magnificantly restored organ. Its decorations have been carefully preserved and refreshed. The sound is as beautiful as the pipes are decorative. A portrait of the founder of this church, Dr. Thomas Cynonfard Edwards, is displayed as well.

Looking upward you see the strange, by today's standards, ceiling. It is varnished wood with sloping sides. The lights are new but in keeping with the overall atmosphere of this historic building. The hard surface, sloping sides and overall shape of the auditorium allows for unsurpassed acoustics. This place was built before electronic amplifiers and they knew how to build a room for music and preaching. It's ideal for a competition of music and recitations.

The balconies around the church are decorated with the flag of Wales. Maybe I should put that as the "Flags" of Wales because each one has a different dragon on it. Choose your favorite.

Most of the glass is about a century old but one large window is only about twenty years of age. The more modern glass window is, in part, a memorial to a dear friend of my family, David Morgan. Dai's portion is to the right of the center pane. He is also remembered in the Eisteddfod program along with my father and other dear friends.

The detail of the window medallions carries its own story. To one side is a Harp medallion honoring the musical heritage of the culture. The other side features the Scales on which your heart will be weighed to measure your fitness to enter heaven.

As the day opens the adjudicators who will judge and evaluate the artists are seated at the front and Interim Pastor Louis Falcone is ready to bless the opening of the competition. The fact that Pastor Falcone has been in Interim status for 26 years is just part of the atmosphere in this church. They don't seem to feel it's worth the paperwork to make it a permanent appointment.

The festivities begin, like all Welsh gatherings it seems, with the congregation singing. In this case it was the National Anthem of the United States followed by sisters Megan and Morgan singing the National Anthem of Wales. They later competed in the recitations and vocal competitions.

Click here to visit the other pages of the 2005 album.
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Copyright 2005 William V. Evans