Getting to know: Janet Matthews

There are people of all sorts in our churches, with different stories of how God has worked in their lives. This time, we meet someone very active in Breconshire Association…

Lovely to meet you, Janet! So how did you come to faith and end up where you are? 

Well, I was actually brought up in Bristol as an Anglican! And despite confirmation as a teenager, I drifted away. But then I met my husband, Terry, who was from Blaenavon and had a clear desire to go into Baptist ministry. So that changed my life! We arrived in Breconshire in the early eighties, with five rural churches forming a ministry area for Terry. I had my own full-time work as a social worker and community development officer, but I got very involved in Sunday school work and children’s work in the chapels. 

And you have also had wider involvement in ministry too over recent years? 

I got heavily involved in my own chapel, where I am now secretary, when we started a building project a decade ago. Our chapel is in a remote spot in the mountains, but it’s such a beautiful location! So we wanted to convert the old minister’s stable (!) into a space that could be used by the church and the community. Then I also serve with the Breconshire Ministry Trust, that has made a lot of difference around here – and then had the honour of serving as BUW President! 

How have you been encouraged in church life? 

Well, being able to go to the European Baptist conference when I was President was so exciting for me. Because there were people there from all over and you got to really experience what it means that our small chapels are a part of a global church. So many different expressions of church, and voices and backgrounds. Meeting some of these people made me realize properly for the first time the freedom we have to worship, and how we really do take that for granted. I think the other thing is the support I received from church people when Terry died. That made such a difference and I do believe that churches have a huge role to play in people’s lives. 

Thank you. What signs of hope do you see as you look forward? 

In our Association we are looking forward enormously to Paul and Robyn Smethurst coming as missional ministers – we really are full of hope because of that! We are small in number and spread around over a dozen rural chapels. But we do feel that God is leading us in this new chapter, which is exciting! 

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