Thursday, March 08, 2007

John Pugh X: Moody and Sankey Come to Cardiff

Not only did 1891 see the flowering of the work among released prisoners, but an event took place which was to further concentrate Pugh's thoughts on the teeming multitudes of Cardiff. The American evangelists Moody and Sankey held a mission in Cardiff, the meetings for which were held at Wood Street Congregational Church, the largest church building in Cardiff (demolished 1970s). Long queues formed outside the church early in the morning, as the masses sought to gain entrance to the meetings, as much to sing the vigorous hymns of the evangelists as to hear the Gospel. It is worth noting that Pugh favoured such a style of hymn in evangelism, and felt that much of the opposition to them had as much to do with snobbery as theology, a symptom of the way in which the Church was alienating herself from the masses.

Pugh met with Moody, and, perhaps not unsurpringly, they became close. Pugh took his daughter to hear Moody preach, visiting the evangelist at the home of Richard Cory. Moody asked John Pugh to return with him to Chicago. Pugh replied that Cardiff was the Chicago of Wales. Good soldier that he was, Pugh was determined to remain at his post.

The greatest effect that the mission had on Pugh was to show the need of the people of Cardiff. In the time since his arrival at Clifton Street, Pugh had undertaken a close study of Cardiff and its needs. The population of Cardiff was estimated at 128,000, with multitudes pouring into the town every day. The total seating capacity of the town's churches was 49,178, less than half that. How, Pugh asked, could the churches be sincere in inviting sinners to come to Christ when they could not handle them?

And Pugh had far more than a grasp of statistics. He had the contacts, both the religious leaders, such as Thomas Charles Edwards, and the civil, such as the Cory brothers. In this time, he also made contact with the Davies family of Llandinam, particularly Edward Davies, a willing financier of the work, being the son of Wales' first home-made millionaire. He was impressed with Pugh, and became his treasurer.

Pugh's first campaign was not far from his base camp of Clifton Street, the teeming working-class district of Splott, within sight of the spire of Clifton Street.



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