Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Free Church of the Welsh. Five

The crisis at Chatham Street came to a head on 11 July, 1900, when the Mothly Meeting of the Liverpool Presbytery found W. O. Jones, the minister, guilty of behaviour unbecoming a minister of the Gospel and expelled him from the Connexion. Jones was horrified that a dispute with his elders about the discipline of a church member had become a trial of his own moral fitness.
W. O. Jones appealed to the Association, which in its meeting at Pwllheli, Caernarfonshire, on 22 August. Had declared that it 'completely rejected Mr. William Owen Jonesas a preacher and minister in the denomination, and ... trusted[ed] that he should not despite this be considered an enemy but should be prayed for.'
Appealing against the ruling, Jones set out his position in the pages of the Y Cymro (The Welshman), a weekly Welsh-language newspaper. At the same time, 255 members of Chatham Street church protested to the Liverpool Monthly meeting, unhappy at their treatment of W. O. Jones. On 12 January, 1901, a Defence Committee was set up, while November 1900 saw William Jones' first church, Waunfawr, Caernarfon pass a resolution favourable to their former minister, a course followed also by three churches in Birkenhead. Public petitions were also circulated.
The appeal was duly held, amid attacks on the legality of the actions of the original investigating committee. This time evidence was given under oath. Jones and other passengers contradicted the evidence of drunkenness aboard the Vito. However, the accusations of the first mate of the Vito became more lurid, accusing the minister of visits to brothels. The evidence may have been shaky, but the appeal was dismissed in the summer of 1901.
Having appealed, Jones found that the full weight of the denomination was to be brought against him, with serious suggestions that he be expelled from the membership of Chatham Street, as well as the ministry. Jones was alost crushed, although his diary indicated that he remained confident in his final vindication, even if that were to be at the judgement:
'How wronged I have been. God knows. I know that my Redeemer liveth, and thathe will stand in the end etc.'
As for justification before men, Jones did not have too long to wait. In April 1902, Mr. Justice Mills heard two slander cases which Jones had brought against some of his ministerial opponents. Both of these cases ended with the allegations (one of which was particularly unsavoury), being withdrawn and formal apologies being given.
In the meantime, Jones had taken further actions, which had led to a complete and formal separation from the Calvinistic Methodist Church and the creation of a new denomination.



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