Elder Ron Dennis of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Unveils the Blue Plaque
Llanelli saw the official unveiling of the blue plaque commemorating Island Place Meeting House and the Elim chapel on a bright and sunny morning on Saturday, 25th August 2018. The chapel was originally a Mormonite [a] church, one of the first in Britain. Approximately fifty people as well as some interested passersby attended the unveiling, along with a few who were probably waiting for a bus.
The plaque on a stone plinth in the Eastgate car park had been attracting attention from townspeople for almost two years while we tried to find someone connected with the original church to perform the official unveiling.
This year we heard that Elder Ron Dennis, a retired professor of Welsh and Portuguese from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, was visiting Wales leading a tour group around Britain. We also learnt that he was being inducted into the Gorsedd of Bards at the National Eisteddfod in Cardiff for his contribution to 19th century Welsh Mormon history. He was obviously the ideal candidate to perform the official unveiling ceremony and we were delighted that such a distinguished member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints agreed to do it.
The event was attended by Chairman of Carmarthenshire County Council, Cllr. Mansel Charles, by Town Council leader, Shahana Najmi, and by the sponsors of the plaque, Cllr. Edward Skinner and Cllr. Bill Thomas.
Lyn John, our chairman, welcomed the tour visitors from the United States, before thanking Cllrs. Skinner and Thomas for sponsoring the plaque. Town Cllr. Skinner spoke briefly, followed by County Cllr. Mansel Charles who stressed the importance of our industrial and cultural heritage to the growing tourism industry in and around Llanelli and Carmarthenshire, and the work of LCH in promoting it.
Elder Dennis explained the history of the Mormon Church in Wales, and the role his great great grandfather had played in the inauguration of the church in 1849. He also asked that anyone who had had relatives who were involved with the church in the past to get in touch with him [b] - he is keen to continue his researches into early Mormonite history in Wales. The foundation stone was laid in 1848, making this year the one hundred and seventieth anniversary of the event.
[a] Mormonite - archaic name used on contemporary town plans for the Mormon Church, now known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.