Thursday, February 22, 2007

John Pugh I: God's Work

This year marks an anniversary that ought to be remembered. On March 24th 1907, a man greatly used of God was called into His presence. He was just sixty-one years old, worn out by a life spent devoted utterly to the proclamation of the Gospel. John Pugh was the founder and first superintendent of the Forward Movement of the Calvinistic Methodist Church. He did more in those sixty-one years than many men, even faithful men, have done in far longer lifetimes. His body lies in Cathays cemetery, equidistant from two churches that owe their existence to him.

John Pugh was born in New Mills, Montgomeryshire, on the border with England in 1846. Born into a humble, pious Calvinistic Methodist family, Pugh was instructed in the ways of the truth from an early age. At the New Mills Chapel, he heard the preaching of many of the 'names' of the denomination. Young John became steeped in the history and culture of Calvinistic Methodism. Growing up on the Welsh border, Pugh grew up bilingual. While the library of the chapel was Welsh, the language of the school and the market was English. This was a Wales that was changing, and the distinction was not unique to New Mills. Throughout the border regions and the Southern counties of Wales, English was replacing Welsh as the language of everyday life. And, in Montgomeryshire, many families were moving South with the railways and the coal trade, following the fortunes of the Calvinistic Methodist millionaire, David Davies, Llandinam.

One of those families was that of John Pugh. When young Pugh was fourteen, his father took a job in Pembrokeshire with David Davies' railway company, to build bridges on the Pembroke-Tenby line. The family left New Mills for the seaside resort town of Tenby. It was there, amid all the rawness of the newly-developing Wales, that John Pugh was to meet the eternal God.



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