We have just returned from a flying visit to Wales, where we attended the funeral of my second cousin, Phyllis Williams.
Phyllis and her husband belonged to the Plymouth Brethren, so her funeral service took place, not in the church of the Glyn-Taf cemetery and crematorium, but on the mountainside that forms part of that huge cemetery.
Those attending made their way up the steep slopes to the area where the burial would take place and awaited the arrival of the hearse, accompanied by the close family. The coffin was then pulled and pushed with some effort even higher to the actual burial site, with everyone following. We then gathered around the gaping hole, as the attendants lowered the coffin into the grave. Strange, a grave on a steep hillside, as the head end is far deeper than the other extremity, which is, presumably, at at least the minimum required depth.
There was then singing, preaching, praying, more preaching, and more singing. There must have been fifty or sixty people in all, both around the gravesite and further down the slope (not all were able to climb up such a steep hillside). Thank goodness the Welsh weather didn't live up to its reputation and Phyllis was able to be sent off in lovely sunshine that lit up the valley below.
When the interment was completed, we made our way down the slopes to where the cars were parked. Most of us then drove to the Bethesda Church in Rhiwbeina, Cardiff, for another service (the Bethesda Church is more a meeting hall than a church, with no statues, paintings, or any other form of "graven image"; the otherwise plainly painted walls are only relieved by a couple of quotes from the bible, painted in large letters).
Bethesda was chosen instead of Phyllis's normal "assembly" (the term used by Plymouth Brethren to refer to the places where they meet to worship), Treforest, as it was thought that Treforest would be too small. It turned out that Bethesda was also too small, with some 200 people coming along, there was insufficient room inside the hall and some who attended had to follow along outside.
The service consisted of several well sung hymns (what do you expect in Wales?) and a number of prayers and preachings, interspersed with "Amens" and "Praise the Lords" and other appropriate interjections.
After the service there was time for much shaking of hands and other forms of greeting, soon to be followed by refreshments, provided by the ladies of the Assembly. The excess of people made this part rather problematic, especially as the refreshments were served in the small hall behind the larger meeting hall. Still, everyone seems to have been able to get something to eat and the TDC (Tea Distribution Centre) did a fine job, despite the small space which was available for their work.
Phyllis had a good send-off.