Friday, August 31, 2007

The Free Church of the Welsh: Three

On Sunday 29 October, 1899, the elders of Chatham Street Church went above W. O. Jones' head, writing a letter to the Monthly Meeting of the presbytery asking whether temporary expulsion of a member for immorality was the proper course. Four elders signed the letter, one of them protesting that the issue was now past. The presbytery ruled in favour of excommunication. Feeling that his authority was under attack, Jones submitted his resignation. On 20 November 1899, the church met to consider their minister's resignation.
The meeting was more than a little odd. W. O. Jones later commented:
"The officials one after another offered the highest commendation of my character and among the tributes of praise none was more fulsome than those of Mr. William Williams and Mr. William Jones ... At the end of the meeting I received a strong vote of confidence, and it was made clear that I should continue in my position."
The vote in favour of Jones' continuation was almost unanimous. However, the breach was deep and lasting. The church members wetre virtually estranged from the elders, although the latter had the support of the presbytery. Three other ministers met with the elders on 30 November, and once more a promise of peace was extracted.
But the troubles continued, and by March 1900 Jones' health had collapsed again. He left for Wales on 6 March, giving permission to the officials of the presbytery to meet with the elders of Chatham Street to reconcile the opposing parties.
The elders refused to meet the committee, announcing on Saunday 11 March that the Minister had resigned and that a church meeting would be called on 15 March to discuss the matter. Jones cut short his holiday to return to Wales.



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