Only available in Welsh

It is the natural instinct of every organisation and society to commemorate its former contributors and members, not only as a mark of respect and gratitude, but also to make known the great diversity of people who have been involved in its work. In collecting the memoirs of past ministers who served the BUW Welsh Language Wing, the intention was not to collect stories regarding the individuals, but rather to note their backgrounds and contributions. Since the early days, hundreds of ministers have been involved, many without any formal education, save that the church invited them to partake in the work because of convictions that they were being led by the Spirit of God. Many of the early pastors were unpaid, receiving a salary for their secular positions. From the beginning, some were sponsored to attend learning centres, then the academies at Bristol, Haverfordwest, Abergavenny and Llangollen. However, with the development of the University of Wales from 1882 onwards, the colleges then moved to Cardiff and Bangor. These colleges’ account is another story, and research remains to be undertaken on the history of the local centres that prepared students for the denominational colleges. There will be references in these memoirs to Ilston School at Carmarthen and the Powel Griffiths School at Rhos, amongst others, whilst some ministers, such as the Revd R. Parri Roberts, Mynachlog-ddu, invited prospective students to their homes in order to prepare them for matriculation at the colleges in due course.

In summarizing these stories, it was important not only to note the contributions of prominent ministers, but also those who may have gone unnoticed; those who, possibly, did not make an appearance on any major public platforms and who were not, perhaps, eloquent or popular preachers, but nevertheless had been loyal witnesses to Christ, breaking the bread and sharing the wine with their flocks. Some ministers had been very productive, publishing books and commentaries and writing for publications such as Seren Gomer and Seren Cymru, whilst others had been diligently involved in establishing young people’s societies in their areas. Some had promoted the work of the Sunday Schools and prayer meetings, whilst, for others, the pastoral side took centre stage. Some served as County Councillors, or were prominent, under the auspices of the County Councils, in social services. Whatever their contribution, all were part of the multicoloured and rich tapestry of the ministry in Wales.

There is also reference, almost without exception, to the ministers’ wives. Many not only attended to the housekeeping and raised a family, but were also dedicated to the work of the churches. It is noted that some played the organ, others were Sunday School teachers, and others were prominent in promoting the Union’s missionary work. Women who led services further afield, beyond their local churches, were exceptions, although some did undertake this ministry.    

Whilst perusing these histories, I was amazed that God had called people of so many backgrounds and abilities, some young, others older, and yet each one had a contribution to make. There are several examples of brothers being called from the same household, or ministers’ sons feeling that God had led them to follow in their father’s footsteps. There is no single pattern, except that all testify to the hand of God touching their lives, and that the divine had sustained them along the journey, no matter what the difficulties. 

In the event that you have a contribution to share, or a correction to highlight, then please contact an officer at the Baptist Union of Wales.

Rev. Denzil I. John.