Saturday, March 17, 2007

John Pugh XVII: Blessing to the West

Just as the work of the Forward Movement spead to Newport in the East, so the evangelists looked to the West, where ports and industry were growing, drawing people from rural Wales and England. David Davies, father of Edward, and Wales' first millionaire, had opened a new coal dock at Barry, which soon became the largest coal-exporting port in the world. The town did not replace Cardiff, as had been Davies' intention, however, and with the exception of the offices of the Barry Dock Company (pictured), the offices of the coal companies remained centred on the Coal Exchange in Cardiff. Barry became what it remains, a rough, raw town, known for its spiritual difficulties.

A work was begun in Barry, coming to fruition in the opening of Dinam Hall (pictured) in 1903. Its construction was in response to the dying wishes of the Forward Movement's treasurer, Edward Davies. Its most notable minister was the Rev. Griffith Griffiths, a man who had laboured long in the mission field. This experience stood him in good stead at Barry, where his congregation included sailors from all over the world. Sadly, the fortunes of Dinam Hall declined with those of the port, and the building was demolished in 1997, the same decade that Memorial Hall went.
In Neath, above Swansea, great blessing attended the ministry of Frank Joshua of the Neath Mission. By 1900, this mission had been taken on by the Forward Movement, and Frank Joshua ordained. Within hours of this arrangement being formalised, John Pugh and John Morgan Jones had made arrangements to build a large permanent mission hall. A plot of land close to the old hall was bought, and a new hall erected, at a cost of £2,500. The new building held over two thousand, a size necessary for the rapidly-expanding congregation.

Between Neath and Cardiff lay Aberavon, a town that began to grow much from the opening of docks there in 1897. The flood of railway workers led to great concern among the local churches, who asked the Forward Movement for help. Pugh, who had been a railway worker himself, was not slow to respond. In June of that year, a school hall was erected in the Sandfields area of Aberavon. The work soon grew, only to fall back under two Pastors whose work was denied blessing. After 1907, the work advaced in fits and starts. It was not until 1914 that the church was able to erect a church building. Blessing was largely denied to the church, and one minister, T. J. Lewis, left the church 'with a broken heart.' It was not until the appointment of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones to the pastorate in late 1926 that the church enjoyed a season of significant blessing.



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