Tuesday, April 03, 2007

John Pugh XXV: The Legacy

It is just over a hundred years since John Pugh was called home to his father's house on high. Thus it is appropriate to look back over the years to what the Lord has wrought.

Seth Joshua lived to see the ebbing of the tide, dying in 1925. He saw the Forward Movement taken over by men who listened to the voices of caution and hesitated in their work. Good men, but men without the dauntless spirit and God-given faith of John Pugh. Even so, the work went on, spreading into North Wales and into new estates.

What of today, however? East Moors Hall is today a community centre. The church took over Jerusalem Calvinistic Methodist Church, Splott in 1927, and the old hall turned over to social work. Clive Street shut its doors in 1978, and Clifton Street Church is now an Arts Centre. The Church at Saltmead Hall is still open, although today it meets in a new building. Memorial Hall is gone, only two worked stones in a wall by the new St. David's hospital to remind people as they walk by. Someone was sprayed flourescent orange paint over them, and in a few years a hedge will have hidden even these.

Central Hall, Newport, is gone as well, destroyed in a ham-fisted post-war redevelopment of that town. Malpas Road remains open, however, recently and sympathetically extended. Like Heath Hall and Bethlehem, Sandfields, this church has left the increasingly liberal Calvinistic Methodist church, and is now an independent Evangelical church.

Heath Church has enjoyed remarkable seasons of blessing, through all the changes in Cardiff. Although a depleted band today, the church remains more full than the average church, and people are still led to Christ. May it long continue.

Crwys Hall is another story. The congregation strayed from the word, and in 1996 the church closed. A year later, however, the building re-opened, when a group who had split from Heath Church took over the building, which is now Highfields Free Church. The building has been re-developed and now serves a large congregation, with a foyer and offices on the site where Pugh had planned his Institute.

The legacy today is a mixed one. We cannot rest secure in Sion any more than those struggling congregations to which Pugh came. Men and women are perishing daily outside the walls.

And let us not use the excuse that these are bad times. Pugh faced bad times, he faced a culture marked by drunkenness, and he brought the Gospel to them. He was not content to pass by on the other side, nor to simply say the right words. He acted.

We too, must act. And in order to act, we must pray for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Like Pugh and those who accompanied him, the work today is work that cannot be done by men alone.



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