The Free Church of the Welsh: One
Liverpool, the great Lancashire Port, is most definitely in England, yet in the late nineteenth century it was indupitably a centre of Welsh culture, with 60,819 Welsh people living in Lancashire as a whole. The Calvinistic Methodists, the most distinctively Welsh of the denominations, had a dozen churches there, and such luminaries as William Rees, Henry Rees and Owen Thomas ministered there, as did lesser men. It is with the story of one such man that our history is concerned, but more with the lessons this teaches us about church discipline.
The setting is Chatham Street Chapel, the year 1899. The chapel itself was nothing extraordinary, with 467 members and six elders. The minister, William Owen Jones, was a product of the push for an educated ministry. He had attended Bala Theological College, and the University College of North Wales, Bangor; from which he had gone on to St. John's College, Cambridge. He was a young man of talent and of promise.
However, the frequent calls on his time as a minister began to undermine his health, and in January 1899, he decided to return to Wales for a rest. While on the train, he met John Jones, Sefton, Prestatyn. Jones mentioned that he was an official with a shipping company, and was able to get the minister cheap tickets on the Steamer Vito, for a cruise in the Mediterranean, departing 19 January.
Despite a storm in the Irish Sea, the cruise was a success, and when W. O. Jones returned to Liverpool in 17 March he was fully recovered. But his troubles were only just beginning.
Labels: Free Church of the Welsh