Saturday, March 10, 2007

John Pugh XII: The Work Expands

The tent at East Moors was destroyed, but the work went on. A temporary wooden building, with seating for 500, known as 'Noah's Ark' was erected in early November of 1891. By the summer of 1892, that building had been supplanted by a purpose-built hall seating 1,000 and costing £2,000. Designed by Fawkner of Habershon and Fawckner, Cardiff, the hall was light and airy, in contrast the the heavy decoration of many Welsh chapels. Himself a Christian, Fawckner had long dreamed of building such halls. Even so, there was a certain poingiancy in paying farewell to the wooden hall, where so many had been born from above. One elderly woman at the service echoed the feelings of many in her prayer:

"Lord, thank you for this fine building, but we have a 'hiraeth' for Noah's Ark. That's where we saw your glory and where we first proved the joy of your salvation."

H. G. Howells, who had ministered there since July 1891, became the first minister of the congregation at East Moors Hall, while the mission moved on, into the Canton district of the city, Joshua erecting a tent there on 28th June 1891. Again, Seth Joshua took morning and evening services, while John Pugh preached in the afternoon. When inclement weather began to threaten the tent, the work was moved to the loft of an undertaker's workshop.

This inauspicious setting became known as 'the upper room;' Seth Joshua observed that: 'Mr. Marsh [the undertaker] is in one room making coffins for the dead, and I am in another room trying to raise the dead."

Canton was notorious for its drinking clubs and vice. Before the coming of Pugh and Joshua, a non-denominational evangelical group had erected a mission hall seating 350 in Clive road, about a mile to the west of the centre of Canton. They had met with little success, and in September 1891, the hall was offered to Pugh for £470. Pugh accepted it at once, bringing in Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Ray to superintend the work. It was not an easy situation, but the sort that cried out to Pugh, who later observed:

"There were two notorious streets on both sides of the Mission Hall; and the vicinity seemed left without let or hindrance as the happy hunting ground of the enemy."

Still, the work was greatly blessed, and soon a new hall, seating 500, had to be erected. At the same time, great efforts were made to clothe the naked and feed the hungry, understanding that a man cannot hear the Gospel if the rumbling of his stomach is too loud.
People had begun to take notice of this new work, and now it had a name: 'The Forward Movement.'



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