Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Tom Nefyn Williams: A Warning from History 9: The end of the Road

The Tumble congregation had decided to face down the Presbyterian Church, declaring that they had the right to entertain a minister who disagreed with the standards of their denomination. Having seen Tom Nefyn given every chance to recant had not softened their attitude. Whatever they expected, it was not what actually happened. The local Presbtery met on 2 October 1929 and voted to dissolve the church at Tumble. When they arrived at their chapel on Sunday 7 October, the congregation found themselves locked out. The presbytery officials told them that they had all been excommunicated. Only those willing to give their personal assent to the Confession of Faith and the rules of the Denomination would be allowed back.

The congregation refused, instead purchasing land for a new meeting house. The building would become Llain y Delyn, home to the 'Tumble Christian Fellowship,' a non-denominational congregation without a Confession of Faith, where the only standard would be the commitment to a 'quest' for truth. Naturally, the congregation's first choice for minister was their exiled hero, Tom Nefyn, who had returned to his native Caernarfonshire with his wife.

Much to the dismay of his former flock, Nefyn refused. In March 1931, he was received back into the Presbyterian Church of Wales. A year later, he was reinstated in the ministry. For the rest of his life, Tom Nefyn would fulfil an obscure pastoral ministry in rural North Wales. His former flock could only view his progress with bitter disillusionment, while for the Presbyterian Church, the experience proved so traumatic that they would never try a minister for heresy again.

We shall conclude tomorrow with a few final thoughts on what may be learned from this unhappy episode.



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