Posts Tagged ‘chapel’

Rhys Llwyd took the “Anglican Identity” quiz and the result is: Modern Evangelical

March 18, 2009

Facebook is the hub of community life these days, sounds odd I know, but in a post-community world Facebook is the closest you get to the real thing unfortunately. And it’s on Facebook tonight that I entered a rather deep theological discussion with a friend of mine. So interesting that i thought it would make a blog post. Tom will be entering the ministry through the Anglican Church and he came out as an “Anglo-Catholic” on the quiz on Facebook. Here’s how the discussion unfolded:

Me: i got “modern evangelical” in the anglican quiz!

Tom: hmm, do you think it fits?

Me: well, it depends what other categories there were? If I’m “modern evangelical” rather than “fundamentalist evangelical” then I’m happy with the label i was given!

But personally I try to avoid the “evangelical” label because of the unfortunate connotation attached stemming from the marriage between evangelicalism and the political right in the US 😦

Tom: Hmm, I think in modern Wales the denominations are quite blurred, though something of a Church Chapel divide still exists. I once went to a chapel funeral and afterwards I met an American Evangelical Missionary hoping to set up “missions” in Wales. He was from Bob Jones University apparently.

Me: yes, your right. Most of the activities I’m involved in are post-denominational (meaning all nonconformist denomination and non-denominational churches are involved) but Anglicans are never on the scene, thats odd really. Have the Anglicans got their own youth/young adults networks perhaps? Or do they generally lack that demographic group full stop? Not a loaded question, just a’n honest interest!

Tom: Personally, I dont think Anglican Churches get involved enough with social justice. Did you meet John Butler the previous Anglican Chaplain? In my home diocese of Birmingham there are quite a few youth groups and they tend to cross varying churches, for instance there is a Church in the centre of Birmingham which acts as a sort of hub for fresh expressions. The Cathedrals tend to attract the largest proportion of people and so tend to have groups for varying age ranges. Generally, parish churches have youth groups if they have any youth and on the whole that demographic is quite small.

Me: Interesting. I believe in the one universal catholic Church but within that I think we need different congregations, I believe it’s healthy and it goes to show the strength of the body of Christ. Unity in diversity is a model we see over and over again in the New Testament. The ecumenical movement tried to get unity through union, the movement failed because in my opinion it wasn’t a Biblical model. True unity can only be forged by a willingness to respect and tolerate diversity and to do that it’s naturally to have a choice of congregations: evangelical and high-church, traditional and charismatic, pedo and baptists, congregational and presbyterian etc. etc.

Tom: Well I see the Biblical model for church as being part of a universal church too, that church is part of one body that is in a particular place and carries a particular character according to the people of that place. For instance, the Church IN Corinth and Paul adapted his ethics to the issues facing the people of Corinth rather than seeking a universal ethics applicaple to all churches. I think the same applies to communion, that seems to be used as a means of recognising the validity of certain churches. So the ecumenical movement attempted to bring all churches into communion into with each other and that of course required a universal doctrine about communion, clearly this does not work as doctrine forms to time and place.

Me: yes, the requirement of universal doctrine was the nail in the coffin of the 1980/90s ecumenical movement. The movements leaders condemned evangelicals for damaging unity because they wouldn’t let go of their doctrinal stand point but what the ecumenicals were blind to their own dogma which stated that doctrine was not important – but that standpoint in-itself was a doctrinal one!

Very interesting discussion, must head to bed now! Take care. Rhys


Stop Press: Tony Campolo visiting Wales this summer!

March 17, 2009

Tony Campolo, well-known American pastor, author, sociologist, and public speaker is coming to Wales this Summer! He is best known for challenging Evangelical Christians by illustrating how their faith can offer solutions in a world of complexity. With his liberal political and social attitudes, he has been a major proponent for progressive thought and reform in the evangelical community. He has become a leader of the movement called “Red-Letter Christian”, putting the emphasis on the reported words of Jesus, found in many Bible publications in a red font. He is, one of my present day heros.

He’s the keynote speaker at a conference organized by the Baptist Union of Wales to be held at Carmarthen on the 11th and 12th of June. As i understand the Friday night meeting will be held at Tabernacle Chapel and attendance is open to all with a request for a £5 donation. The Saturday event needs people to pre-register – i have no more information about the Saturday event yet.

This is very exiting news indeed!

Report from WalesWide conference (part 1)

March 16, 2009

Please forgive my neglect of this blog again. It’s been a busy few days, trying to finish a chapter of the PhD by next week, and was preaching on Sunday at Llanberis and I had to work on an article for an academic journal over the weekend too! So don’t you believe those who say that PhD students are lazy wasters who don’t want a proper job! If I worked any harder people might start calling me a Puritan! (if you don’t get that joke, don’t worry!)

Addoliad - Praise

Anyway, here is a chance to say a word about the WalesWide conference I attended last Thursday. It was nothing short of an honor to be there. I arrived a big late – it was quite a drive down to Newtown from Bangor. When I got there i was astonished to see the car park packed, i walked into the building and into the main hall and to my astonishment there were the three hundred strong crowd shouting praise to the Lord. God’s people who turned despair into hope. People who turned their concern for Wales into a hart opening intercede before God. There was a deep sense in this conference that God can revive his Church in Wales, even a belief that the renewal had already started.

So who or what is WalesWide exactly? Waleswide facilitates the planting of new churches in Wales and the strengthening of existing ones where appropriate. They sense urgency from the Holy Spirit for this being felt across the various Christian networks in Wales. Waleswide seeks a cooperative effort among Christians throughout Wales in order to encourage the multiplication of Bible believing Christian churches throughout the nation. They work with church groupings and networks that share their values and doctrinal distinctives whether Anglican, Baptist, Reformed, Charismatic, Welsh Language denominations or independent. They are not seeking to form a new denomination or church grouping of their own.

Elfed Godding a David Ollerton

Jesus is ever intent on building His church (Matthew 16:18).  We live in a day of opportunity, resources and freedom to spread the Gospel and start new churches without hindrance. As society fragments, lawlessness increases and secularism breeds despair the living church of Jesus Christ stands out for truth, reconciliation and hope. The world at its worst needs a church at its best. At the start of the twenty-first century many areas of Wales are rapidly becoming a spiritual wilderness with ageing congregations, closing buildings, the Gospel rarely preached and little expectation of an improvement. It is time for obedience to the great Commission. A hundred and fifty years ago the majority of people in Wales were listening regularly to Biblical preaching.  Seventy years ago the chapels had more members than ever in their history. Today less than 2% of the population can be described as evangelical. Dozens of towns and hundreds of villages have no Bible believing church, and many that do have are seeing relentless decline. Stronger churches in other parts of Wales are doing much in their immediate area, and overseas, but few have a clear commitment and strategy for their own nation. Waleswide believes that the Lord Jesus would see healthy, Bible believing churches established in all areas of Wales including the inner cities, valley communities, mid Wales and Welsh speaking communities.

That is the vision of WalesWide, and that was the vision that was shared during the conference. The post has gone a bit long now so I’ll reserve the rest of my say for the next post.

Pictures of WalesWide conference

March 13, 2009

Yesterday I went to the WalesWide Church planting and transplanting conference. It was an awesome day filled with inspiration from the Spirit. I’ll try and find time over the weekend to write a detailed post about the conference but for now just a post to share some brilliant pictures i took at the conference:

David Ollerton

The rest of the photo set

R. Tudur Jones’ Christian Nationalism

March 9, 2009

R. Tudur JonesAfter the Second World War, the feeling that Welsh identity was in danger increased. For the Welsh Congregationalists this conviction exploded to the surface in the Undeb Ystradgynlais in 1950. The Undeb was the annual gathering of Welsh Congregational Churches who were members of the Union of Welsh Independents. The story is reported in the Tyst newspaper (the Tyst was and is the denomination’s weekly newspaper) in June 1950; this utopian report is in the June 15 edition:

The armies of Catholicism, Philistinism, materialism and totalitarianism are marching boldly and presumptuously. But among the principalities of the heavens, angels of ideals are at work. The country is waiting for the denomination’s unconditional declaration that it is on the side of the angels.

The following week, more flesh was put on the bones as the Tyst reported that the Reverend R.G. Davies had proposed that:

…in the face of the serious condition of the language in many of our churches, and also the constant threat to its prosperity in areas that are completely Welsh, this conference brings to the serious attention of the churches the appropriateness of establishing a branch of Welsh speakers in every church…

Promoting culture had been part of the denominations’ agenda for a long time, however Reverend Owen Williams’ next motion proved to be very controversial. He said:

That we the representatives of the Congregationalist Churches of Wales, firmly declare our conviction that we are acting according to God’s will in demanding self-government for Wales immediately.

Although it is not reported in Y Tyst, and although it should not surprise anyone, there are grounds for believing that Gwynfor Evans was partly responsible for the motion. The Congregationalists turned to R. Tudur Jones in 1952 in order to calm the storm of objections that rose against the Congregationalists’ stance on self-government for Wales. The pamphlet ‘The Congregationalists and self-government for Wales’ was published by Tudur Jones. In this publication, the young theologian makes his beliefs and convictions public to all.

Let us consider what Tudur Jones had to say about nationalism in this pamphlet. A key question that nationalists have to deal with is ‘why the nation?’ What is so special about the nation that measures need to be taken to protect and sustain it? First of all, Tudur Jones turned to Genesis 11, and the story of the Tower of Babel and the mixing of the languages and he argues that God destroys imperialism and places diversity as the order for the earth. He said: ‘Where men constructed uniformity, God demanded diversity.’ He said that uprooting the Welsh nation ‘…in the name of a kind of shallow internationalism’ repeated the crime of those who built the Tower of Babel. He is certain in his conviction that nations are part of God’s order and considers that his role, as a Christian, is to safeguard and protect God’s order to the extent that in 1972 he declared that promoting nationalism was ‘…one of the many ways of declaring the glory of the one who took us from darkness.’

Placing R. Tudur Jones on the theological spectrum

March 4, 2009

R. Tudur JonesHere is a little introduction to Tudur Jones’s place on the theological spectrum.

R. Tudur Jones was born in the Cricieth area in Eifionydd, North Wales, the son of John Thomas and Elizabeth Jones. The 1904-1905 revival had a profound influence on his parents and so we can take it for granted that religion was more than a cultural custom for his family. Although he was brought up in a Christian family, Christianity did not become a real experience for him until he attended an evangelistic crusade in the Promenade Pavilion in Rhyl in 1939. As he stated in a documentary on S4C in 1994, Christianity came alive for him during that meeting; he said ‘…a day comes when the match is lit, and that’s what happened to me in the Pavilion that night…’ The preacher in that meeting interestingly was the evangelical leader Martin Lloyd-Jones.

Dr. Tudur was a reformed Protestant rather than a liberal Protestant. He is of J.E. Daniel’s line rather than that of John Morgan Jones. In addition to the influence of the greats of the reformed faith such as Calvin, and Thomas Jones of Denbigh and Thomas Charles in Wales, Tudur Jones was also influenced by Dutch Calvinist theologians. Individuals such as Abraham Kuyper, who was the Dutch prime minister, developed Calvin’s doctrine on the sovereignty of God, ‘…Kuyper had to be practical. As Prime Minister he had to consider education, promote the arts and the relationship between the overseer and the servant etc…’

One of the Calvinistic teachings that Kuyper emphasized, and which attracted Tudur Jones, was the doctrine of common grace. The common grace doctrine states that grace ‘…falls on everyone with no exceptions’ – God doesn’t discriminate between who can receive the general blessings of grace. The aspect of the common grace doctrine which is relevant to my PhD thesis (i.e. the politics of Tudur Jones) is the concept that the blessings of grace means that justice is possible on this earth, at least at a civic level. The theologian Louis Berkhof said:

Common grace enables man to perform what is generally called justitia civilis, that is, that which is right in civil or natural affairs… Reformed theologians generally maintain that the unregenerate can perform natural good, [and] civil good…

Considering the social and spiritual condition of Wales in the twentieth century, it is understandable that the Dutch Calvinistic school of though with its reformed orthodox theology on one hand and its practical implications on the other was so attractive to Tudur Jones. Of Kuyper he says: ‘He took the challenge of secularism to the national life of the Netherlands very seriously’ and that his doctrine on

…Christ’s kingship echoed some of the fundamental ideas of Frederick Denison Maurice, the founder of the Christian Socialists in England.. And there is a striking similarity between Kuyper’s teachings on sovereignty and the radical and collective nationalism of Michael D. Jones

On the theological spectrum, Tudur Jones would therefore place himself close to Kuyper and the Dutch Calvinists but he was his own man. He was enough of a thinker to come to his own conclusions. Densil Morgan said: ‘…Kuyper and his followers corroborated the ideology that he already had, and Tudur was never slavishly indebted to them.’ It should also be noted as well that I don’t think Tudur Jones would necessarily commend and agree with Kuyper’s political views (for example Kuyper was an imperialist and he held unfortunate views on race and supported apartheid); it was Kuypers rational towards the political sphere that he agreed with rather than the politics itself.

Tudur Jones’ theology therefore was to do with this world as well as the next world.

Trouble in Amish Paradise

February 26, 2009

This post in Welsh | Y cofnod hwn yn Gymraeg

AmishLast night I watched an interesting program on BBC iPlayer, Trouble in Amish Paradise. Unfortunately I don’t think it’s sill up there so if you missed it I can’t think of a way for you to watch it for now – they might put a repeat out though. The program was very interesting and I felt there was a lot in it for us Christians in Wales – especially evangelical – to learn from.

First of all the program made it clear that the Amish today are a cult to all extends and purposes. They manage to persevere as a cultish community because of the absolute subordination of their members to their elders, called the amish bishops. The program followed the story of one particular brother; he had broken away from the cult side of amish through looking at God’s words for himself and refusing to accept the bishops leadership and guidance un-questioned. He was like a modern amish version of Martin Luther I guess. I very much admired this brother and found him to be a very humble and gracious man. But one of the most interesting things about him was that he wanted to keep to most amish traditions and culture despite his new life in Christ.

Are there any lessons to be learnt from this story then? Well, for starters it teaches us again that we must search God’s words and follow it rather than follow our movement, denomination, organization or tradition unquestioned. For example is it really wrong to play ball on a Sunday? No it’s not! Is it really a sin to have a pint or two? No it isn’t! I remember hearing a story once about a little boy who had a rather conservative evangelical upbringing; he saw a car drive past and declared that they were not Christians because the wife was driving and the husband was in the passenger seat! That goes to show how the power of tradition can deviate the word of God. Ok, the boy was little but there must be something wrong with the culture he was bought up in that he was lead to make such a remark in the first place.

The second lesson that can be learnt from the amish brother is that we shouldn’t turn our backs on our communities and culture after coming to Christ but rather we should commit to it anew so to serve humbly. This is a real problem in Wales today because some Christians leave Welsh churches to join English evangelical/charismatic churches after coming to faith. On one hand I understand why; trying to bear witness in a lot o Welsh churches is hard, unfruitful and disheartening; but when we have new energetic Christians leaving it just makes it much worse. Is this the right thing to do? What about your responsibility to your people? It would have been easier for the amish brother to turn his back on the amish community after coming to faith in Christ; but no, he was determined to stay with his people so to witness to them and to serve them. I have huge admiration for him.

Jerusalem Chapel, Pen-y-groes

February 25, 2009

Monday night I went with Menna to address a Dosbarth meeting of the Calvinistic Methodists at Jerusalem Chapel, Pen-y-groes, Carmarthenshire. We went to talk about our recent visit to Kyiv, Ukraine and also to try an encourage and inspire the old brothers and sisters here in Wales.

When I visit that part of Wales I always go a bit emotional, Monday night was no different. A good part of my roots come from the area; my Grandfather came from Gorslas and my  Grandmother comes from nearby Ammanford. My Grandfather also pastored his last Church in Ammanford; it was that very church that my grandmother was bought up in and it was also the Church Nantlais pastored during the 1904-05 Revival in Wales. There was also a blessing in the area around 1948. History, memory and myth is a powerful force.

One rather elderly brother at Monday night’s meeting, David Hughes from Cross-hands, told me that he knew my great-Grandmother! David Hughes must have been in his 90s. He used to work with my Great-Uncle Alun, my Grandfathers brother, down the mines. He had a very special story about my great-Grandmother, Ester. Ester lost her husband, my great-Grandfather, at a young age to an accident at the coal mine. David Hughes told me that people had huge respect and admiration for Ester as she bought up three children on her own; she was a very Godly woman. David Hughes remembered Ester for her public praying at Church – he remembers her down on her knees, literally, in tears talking with her Saviour. This was very very powerful testimony as David Hughes recalled.

The Holy Spirit has been at work in a very strange and powerful way in the area in the past. I got to see a glimmer of it on Monday nigh through the stories and prayers of the elderly Godly brothers at Pen-y-groes. These were not men and women who had read about previous blessings in the area, these were brothers who remember and had experienced that blessing. This is a meeting I will never forget.

Binge Drinking – a theological answer?

February 24, 2009

PintI welcomed the report published a few months ago by a group of MP’s saying that some concreat measures needed implementing to get with grips with the epidemic of binge drinking in the UK; a problem that is perhaps worse here in Wales than anywhere else. I am not a teetotaler but I do think that binge drinking is a real problem in society today. I’m not saying this in a judgmental and a patronizing way I hope; but rather I’m saying this out of love and care. The main recommendations that were put forward by the MP’s were a recommendation to ban drink promotions such as ‘pound parties’ and ‘buy two get three’; it was also recommended that supermarkets should be banned from selling alcohol as loss leaders.

The pro-Alcohol lobby and pressure groups, who are mainly funded by the alcohol industry, have come out strong against these recommendations. The pro-Alcohol lobby insist that there is no need for government measures and that the individual should take responsibility; they argue that the government has no place to determine how much alcohol one consumes in one given night. Their emphasis is on personal choice. But what they fail to understand (or choose to ignore) is that some peoples personal choice to binge drink is not really personal and private at all because binge drinking puts enormous strain on the NHS. Therefore those personal choices people make to binge drink actually effects us all, we all as tax payers pay for the NHS do we not? The reality is that binge drinking is only a personal choice – it’s consequences are unfortunately public. In my opinion the government therefore should take measures to do something about binge drinking.

When this story was on the news back in November Radio Cymru (the BBC’s Welsh Language radio station) got Wynford Ellis Owen to comment on the MP’s recommendations. Wynford is a recovering Alcoholic and now works as Chief Executive for The Welsh Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs (formerly know at the Temperance Society), a Church funded organization. What Wynford said was very profound, he pointed out that stopping binge drinking using such government measures were commendable but these kinds of initiatives were only scratching the surface of the problem. One must ask, he said, what drives these people to binge drinking in the first place? What are they trying to escape from? Of course, the answer to that question, as Wynford knew, is with the Church. People turning to Christ is the only full remedy to binge drinking, but the odd government measure here and there won’t do any damage I don’t think.

WalesWide and Church Planting in Wales

February 19, 2009

Church planting is a much talked about thing everywhere these days and Wales is no exception. There has been very few Church plants, those that came because of splits I don’t count here, in Wales over the past half century. The number of Welsh language plants have been even smaller. But planting is very much the vision, even the calling, of a man called David Ollerton who established WalesWide/CymruGyfan. I first heard about David through a good friend of mine who I met at University in Aberystwyth; John Derek Rees was bought up in his David’s Church, Rhiwbina Baptist in Cardiff. David has now moved on from Rhiwbina and is one of the leaders of a Church plant in Porthcawl, Grace Community Church, in addition to being visionary and director of WalesWide.

Here is a video of David sharing his vision:

WalesWide have got a conference coming up next month: ‘Church Planting and Strengthening Conference
 – Principles, models and examples
’; Thursday 12 March 2009, 10am to 4pm
Hope Community Church, Dolfor Road, Newtown, SY16 1JD. Speakers include Julian Richards, Marc Owen, Rob Jones and David Ollerton
. Seminars with Meirion Morris, Ian Parry, John Parkin, Darren Mayor and Mark Bennett with time for questions and answers.

It’s exiting stuff and I hope to attend the conference. Will I see you there?