Friday, March 23, 2007

John Pugh XXI: Into the Valleys

The early work of the Forward Movement had been among the people of the South Wales coastal towns. It was inevitable, however, that the movement would begin to look up the railway tracks which led into the valleys, hard coal mining towns, most notable among them being Merthyr Tydfil.

Sergeant Barker, formerly of Saltmead Hall, moved to Merthyr in 1905, reporting back his conclusions to Pugh, who published them in the Forward Movent Torch. Seth Joshua joined Barker to evangelise the notorious town, reporting to Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis:

"A hard fight is going on with the forces of darkness. Nearly every error under the sun finds root in this place. There are strong spiritualistic societies, ethical societies, agnostics, Christadelphians, and the last importation would be the Pentecostal Dancers. Strange to say they are drawing a strong following at Dowlais. We ourselves have seen the temperance hall crowded for the past fortnight and every service we see victory in conversions. Still I never felt Satanic forces so strong at this place."

A hall was built at Penydarren, initially ministering in the Welsh language, but switching to English as the area became increasingly anglicised.

In the Rhondda, a hall was opened at Treorchy in 1891, gaining a congregation of 130 within two years, as well as a thriving Sunday School. A year later, the Forward Movement took over the English language work at the Graig, a suburb of Pontypridd. John Thomas, a Forward Movement evangelist, launched a frontal assault on Porth, where a hall seating 700 people was opened in January 1894, despite fierce opposition. In the same year, a hall was opened at Treharris. By 1907, Halls had opened at Maesteg, Cwm Park, Abercynon (pictured), and three other towns in the valley.

At the same time, the work of the Forward Movement expanded in the valleys of Monmouthshire. Halls were opened at Cross Keys, Abercarn, Abertillery, Ebbw Vale and Elliotstown. At Pontypool, the Rev. Watkin Williams began a work in 1904. His untiring efforts bore fruit, with a church of one hundred and fifty members being formed within the first year. The hall was named St. David's after Pugh's old church at Pontypridd.

In Elliotstown, John Harris preached alone on street corners, for that mining town was not even possessed of the nucleus ofa church. Harris' efforts were swiftly rewarded, his sermons attracting growing crowds. Soon Harris was able to rent a hall. By the end of the first year, there was a growing church of fifty-eight members, which was growing too large for the hired building.

God was blessing the work mightily, but there was far more to come. Soon, the Holy Spirit was to be poured out in power over Wales.



Post a Comment

<< Home