Thursday, March 22, 2007

John Pugh XX: Women's Ministry

The 'Women's Branch' of the Forward Movement began in the summer of 1894. Mrs Pugh was the driving force in the movement, among whose objectives were the rescue of prostitutes and keeping girls from being sucked into prostitution. These objectives were challenging, but they were also practical. The Calvinistic Methodist Association at Llanrwst saw this organisation start to expand on a national basis. Following the Amlwch Association, a woman worker was employed to work with Saltmead Hall.

Recent events have suggested that the idea of 'women's ministry' is in some way controversial. In fact, what is meant is the idea that women should play the part of men Pugh, for his part, had no doubt about the value of women's ministry:

"I am persuaded that a bird could as soon fly with one word as the Church of God can evangelise the great centres of population without Christ-possessed women to go in and out among the suffering poor. There is a work that no-one can do for Christ but them. It must be left undone for ever unless they turn to do it, by providing the means or volunteer to do it themselves."

Following the example of William Ross' Cowcaddens ministry, Pugh appointed 'Sisters of the People' to work among the poor and 'immoral women.' By 1909, there were eight such Sisters, stationed in eight Movement centres.

More, the Forward Movement's organisers were well aware of the difficulties such woem faced. It is not enough to hand a Gospel tract to a prostitute. Nor is it enough to tell a prostitute that she should turn from her sin. Women must have an alternative given to them. Women might profess conversion, but if they returned to their old surroundings, the old pressures soon became unbearable.

The Women's Branch and four Sisters petioned the Cardiff Committee in 1905, asking for the authority to establish a home for women leaving a life of prostitution. Two houses were purchased on Corporation Road, Grangetown, named 'Treborth Home' after the house of Mrs. Richard Davies, a major contributor to the purchase. The Pastor of Saltmead Hall, George Howe, was placed in charge of the home, work which he and his wife undertook for free. In the first year, the home served over one hundred and twenty-six women, girls and babies. In the home, the women were treated well and helped to find alternative employment (normally as domestic servants), children looked after to allow their mothers to work and support them. The home grew, eventually moving to a large house with its own grounds off Cowbridge Road, Canton, a setting far removed from the squalor of the streets.
The Sisters of the People were able to go where male evangelists could not, to visit brothels during the day, reach women individually before drawing them to the home with cords of love. The ministry of these sisters was amazing, hundreds led to Christ, lives mended and women saved from sin and death.
At the same time, the Forward Movement began to push into the industrial valleys.



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