An extract of the book written by N.L. Thomas:
Sardis Independent Chapel, Swansea Road, now more than a century old, was opened for worship on the 24th and 25th May, 1860. Previously, in 1852, a small schoolroom was erected in the village to accommodate about 80 persons where members from Crwys, Cadle, and other localities held prayer, fellowship meetings and Sunday School services weekly.
Earlier, in 1833, members from Crwys started a school at the home of a John Lewis, Wern, and friends in Cadle organised similar school meetings in various places for many years. Groups of friends from these two schools united to form a Church at Waunarlwydd in 1858 under the pastorate of the Rev. John Llewelyn Jones, minister of Crwys and Penclawdd, who, however, failed to persuade the members to build a permanent chapel. The thirty members involved, including a number of farmers, felt that such a venture was too ambitious in view of their small congregation.
Consequently, by the end of about a year, the Rev. J. Ll. Jones resigned from this portion of his ministry. The story is related that his resignation was prompted by the members’ refusal to consider erecting a chapel and the fact that he had engaged the help of the Rev. B. Owen, Soar, Merthyr, to draw up a design for the said place of worship. The latter minister afterwards visited the village but did not receive any payment for his work.
Shortly after these happenings, the energetic minister of Cadle, the Rev. William Humphreys, gave a fiery address to the Waunarlwydd members in their schoolroom on their Christian obligation to build an Independent Chapel without delay. His exhortation won them over and they agreed to the project. As practical proof to the people of the village of the determined interest he was taking in the Cause, the Rev. Wm. Humphreys went the following day after the meeting to the timber yard of one, David Davies of Swansea, and purchased £50’s worth of timber for the new chapel and instructed that it be delivered to Waunarlwydd on the following day.
Next, he drew a design for the chapel himself, and paid a master carpenter and master mason for the work in hand in order to expedite matters as soon as possible. The construction of the chapel commenced in October, 1859, and was completed in the Spring of the following year. When the chapel was only partly completed a giant tea party was held on the site early in 1860. Hundreds of Independent followers attended the event from Landore, Pentre Estyll, Cadle, Penclawdd, Brynteg and Sketty to support the Rev. Wm. Humphreys. The resulting tea charges helped to reduce the debt on the building before its actual completion.
The Rev. Wm. Humphreys moved mountains for the Cause he cherished, and the Welsh Independents of the last century at Loughor, Cadle, Waunarlwydd, Cwmbwrla and Landore owed much to his indomitable spirit and drive. One of five children, he was born in 1824 at Trewyddfa, that prominent hillock between Landore and Morriston. His parents were descended from a religious lineage, who were Independents for generations; these were numbered among “those called to be saints” in Siloh, Landore. When his father died in 1837, he was compelled to undertake employment at a very young age because of the straitened circumstances of the family. For some years before 1851, he was a rollerman in the Hafod Copper Mills, where he remained up to within six months of his ordination when he went to a preparatory school. One of his co-workers at that time was the Rev. Wm. Roberts, Liverpool, chairman of the Union of Welsh Independents in 1884.
An inducement was given to Wm. Humphreys to take up preaching in 1847 by the minister, Rev. Wm. Morris, and the congregation of Siloh. He was ordained on the 12th February, 1851, his certificate as a minister being signed by some of the leading preachers of the day.
After the building was opened for public worship, a call was given to a Mr. John Bevan who had begun his vocation at Siloh, Nantyfyllon, and who had been guided earlier by the Rev. J. B. Jones, Penybont. He was inducted at Sardis on the 20th and 21st March, 1861, and served the Chapel faithfully and well for 45 years.
The Rev. J. Bevan did much to raise the social standards of the area, and was instrumental in having a Day School and a Post Office built here. (The present Post Office, is of course, situated directly opposite to Sardis). Nineteenth century society owes an immense debt to such progressive, pioneering spirits of Nonconformity as the Rev. J. Bevan and his successors. Such men aroused the public conscience in their strenuous efforts to improve the social amenities of Waunarlwydd and neighbouring districts. The Rev. J. Bevan died on the 14th December, 1916, and lies buried in the Church cemetery.
The Rev. D. M. Davies became the next pastor and laboured here for 10 years. During his ministry the church was altered and a pipe organ installed; a manse was also built. His ministry ended when he went to the Ragged School in Swansea. He lies buried at Bethel Church, Sketty.
From 1922 to 1926, the Rev. Rhedynog Evans served as pastor. He was followed in 1930 by the Rev. D. H. Fisher, B.A., who remained until November, 1933, when he left to take over an English pastorate in Mumbles. May, 1937, saw the Rev. Stanley Jones become minister of Sardis and he remained at Waunarlwydd for 15 years, leaving in February, 1952,for Drewyddel.
The present pastor is the Rev. Christmas Williams who came from Brynrhiwgaled, Cardiganshire. His induction services took place on the 3rd December, 1953.
Members of Sardis remain enthusiastic over the Lord’s work and its meetings are truly blessed. The Sunday School remains an interesting field of religious endeavour for young and old alike, while the Sister-hood is a flourishing institution. One noted preacher, among others. was raised here—J. D. Williams who began preaching in 1864 but unfortunately died two years later. He has been described as a splendid person, respected by all who knew him.
Many well known men and women were nurtured here. Today they hold responsible positions throughout the country. Waunarlwydd’s two other places of worship are: Bethany English Baptist Church, Bryn Road; and Zion, Capel Y Bedyddwr (Baptist), 1860, enlarged 1872, in Swansea Road, that section of which was originally Masons Terrace.
Bethany’s site was purchased on the 18th February, 1875, for a term on the lives of three people at an annual fee of one guinea. Their eventual deaths then meant the drawing up of a fresh agreement of tenure. The original Chapel was an iron structure which was replaced in 1908 by a stone building when a George Jones of Victoria Road obtained the contract for its erection. Zealous members actually quarried the required quantities of stone themselves locally.
The Church’s first minister, a Rev. Williams used to walk to Waunarlwydd from Swansea every Sunday morning and then return home again after the evening service. Mr. D. W. Bidder’s father was the first choir leader here. This small Church has been faithfully supported by its members over the years.