Bible Society to open £1m visitor centre in Wales

Bible Society will be telling the story of the Bible's impact on Wales and the rest of the world through a new £1m visitor centre.

The centre is to open at St Beuno's Church, at Llanycil, Bala, a deconsecrated church in North Wales.

One of the notable figures buried in the churchyard is Bible Society founder Thomas Charles. In 1800, 15-year-old Mary Jones walked 25 miles from Llanfihangel-y-Pennant, across the Welsh mountains, to Bala to get a Bible from Mr Charles. According to the legend, she saved six years to be able to afford the Bible and Mr Charles was so touched that he helped to establish Bible Society four years later.

Bible Society bought the church in 2007 and has already received planning permission to transform it into the new visitor centre.

The church is situated on the shore of Lake Bala and the visitor centre will have a car park, picnic area and outdoor facilities with access to local footpaths.

It is due to open in 2014 to coincide with the bicentenary of Thomas Charles' death.

The plans have been welcomed by the Friends of Llanycil Church, established after the closure of the building.

Secretary and local resident Rhiannon Dafydd, said, "It's marvellous that Bible Society is literally returning to its roots, investing and developing in the exact location that it was formed. The Centre will be a great resource for the local community and we look forward to welcoming people from all over the world to Llanycil. There's no doubt that this will also bring great benefits to the local economy."

Bible Society's Group Chief Executive, James Catford said, "Since my student days at Aberystwyth University I have looked for opportunities to celebrate the Bible's role in shaping the nation of Wales and the wider world. This work represents a significant part of Bible Society's growth in Wales.

"Bible Societies throughout the world are indebted to the nation and people of Wales for establishing what is now a global movement operating in 200 countries. We are deeply grateful and humbled by the generosity of some of these Societies who have given generously to this project out of their very limited resources."