Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Free Church of the Welsh: Seven

The new denomination formed in the aftermath of W. O. Jones from the Calvinistic Methodist ministry now had a name, 'the Free Church of the Welsh.' Now it needed a creed. What was that creed to be? On Sunday 22 September, 1901, Jones read out a declaration which the papers called the 'manifesto' of the church. It contained the words:
'We have noticed for years the increase of the spirit of officialdom in the denom ination. In very many cases we could not close our eyes to the fact that ministers and elders dominate the churches. They have succeeded, gradually and silently, in taking possession of all authority to make laws, to govern, and to judge all important cases, without consulting the members, and very often against their wishes."
The declaration condemned the practice of electing elders for life and advocated making buildings the property of individual congregartions, rather than the denomination. This was to be 'a new religious organisation, with wider freedom and with more democratic characteristics..' The church would elect ministers and elders for fixed terms, although they could be re-elected if chosen. The councils of the church would be representative of the pews, as well as the pulpit and 'big seat.' Interestingly, nothing was said about doctrine, apart from an affirmation that the new denomination would be 'orthodox.'
In the aftermath of this, the new denomination began to expand, chapels opening in Garmoyle Road (April, 1903); Merton Road, Bootle (May 1903); Donaldson Street, Liverpool (June, 1903) and Claughton Road, Birkenhead (August, 1903). More minsters were called. By July 1904, the Free Church of the Welsh had seven churches, four chapels, nine Sunday Schools and four ministers. And the firs of Revival were to burn through Merseyside, bringing Evan Roberts in their wake.



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