The Welsh Baptist Peace Society was founded in 1937, a year after the burning of the Bombing School at Penyberth, and when Mussolini had come to power in Italy, Franco in Spain and Hitler in Germany. Less than twenty years earlier, ‘the war to end all wars’ had come to an end, but the economic unrest across Europe and America caused fear and anxiety for many. The collapse of Wall Street had weakened western economies, and Germany’s Weimar government had come to an end in 1933, with Adolf Hitler attracting strong support there.
The declarations in favour of peace had begun during the Great War, with influential leaders such as Hywel Cernyw Williams, E.K. Jones and Wyre Lewis having leading roles in the cause. When a number of theological students returned home, disillusioned with their experiences on the battlefield, it was increasingly realized that alternatives to war needed to be found to solve the problems of the nations. By the nineteen thirties, in horror that another war might ensue, the Welsh Baptist Peace Society was established to affirm the principles of reconciliation and peace, in keeping with the best traditions of Welsh radical Nonconformism.
After the Second World War, the ‘Cold War’ era of the sixties, and the threat of nuclear extinction, the declarations for peace were as relevant as ever. An annual lecture sponsored by the Society, the ‘Lewis Valentine Memorial Lecture’, was delivered as part of the Union’s activities, and published and sold through the Cymanfaoedd (Assemblies). A collection of these lectures is at the National Library, and the subject matter was entrusted to the lecturers themselves. Donations were received from the supporters, and the Society has long been making financial donations to deserving bodies such as Christian Aid, Amnesty International and the Fellowship of Reconciliation in Wales. The Society has had no formal committee, but among its most ardent supporters were those such as E.K. Jones, Wyre Lewis and Lewis Valentine. Later on, D. Eirwyn Morgan, John Rice Rowlands, Idwal Wynne Jones, Emlyn John, Rosina Davies and Einwen Jones came to lead and promote the work.
The Christian conscience for peace and reconciliation continues to be nurtured, and this section of the website aims to summarize further information about the Peace Society.
Revd Denzil I. John