On Tuesday, 24th April, over 60 union representatives came together for a reception at the Pierhead, one of the Senedd buildings in Cardiff, as part of the 150 anniversary celebrations of the Welsh Baptist Union. We were very grateful to Rhun ap Iorwerth AM for his willingness to sponsor the event. A vital part of the event was the invitation to some of the Union’s churches and associations, as well as Glyn Nest and the Sisterhood Movement to create exhibitions of the work they undertake in the community and beyond. In addition, the Reverends Peter Cho, Newbridge and Kath Miller, Hengoed spoke about the work of their church and Irfon Roberts about Glyn Nest home. Mike Hedges AM, a member of Seion Newydd, Morriston was responsible for winding up the programme and offered prayer. We then had the opportunity to chat and socialize over a light lunch. All Assembly members were invited to the event and we were very pleased to be able to welcome 15 of them including the presiding officer, Elin Jones AM. They showed considerable interest in the work of the churches and it also provided an opportunity for delegates to explain more about their activities. It was a delight to hear Rhun ap Iorwerth and Mike Hedges refer to the Union’s important contribution over the years to Welsh life.
After the event the following references were made in the main Assembly:
BUSINESS STATEMENT & ANNOUNCEMENT,24 APRIL 2018
Darren Millar: …And, finally, given your responsibility for faith communities, leader of the house, will you join me in congratulating the Baptist Union of Wales on its one hundred and fiftieth anniversary? Many Assembly Members were present at the celebrations, which were held across in the Pierhead this afternoon, and I do feel that that should be recognised here in the Chamber this afternoon, by you, in your capacity as the Minister for faith communities. The Baptist Union of Wales has had a tremendous impact, not just on the people of Wales, but also around the world, through its missionary activities, and I think we owe it to them to recognise that tremendous contribution that they’ve made.
Julie James AM:Yes, I’m absolutely delighted to acknowledge that contribution, not least to my own life. Many of the hymns that I know and love are as a result of attending Baptist chapel with my grandmother, and singing my heart out, three times a day on a Sunday, when we were privileged to be spending a day with her. So, I have very fond memories of that. And, indeed, I am very happy to acknowledge the contribution of the Baptist Union of Wales, and, indeed, of all of our faith communities, to the rich cultural and faith heritage that we are very proud of—rightly so—here in Wales. So, I’m delighted to be able to do so; thank you for the opportunity.
Nick Ramsay:Diolch, Dirprwy Lywydd. Can I concur with the comments made earlier by Darren Millar regarding the one-hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary of the Baptist Union of Wales? I also attended that event, as did many other Assembly Members. It was very successful, and we send them our best.
90 SECOND STATEMENT, 25 APRIL 2018
Mike Hedges AM:Diolch, Llywydd. I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to congratulate the Baptist Union of Wales on its hundred and fiftieth anniversary. I speak as a member of Seion Newydd, the Welsh Baptist chapel based in Morriston. Yesterday, I attended an event in the Pierhead to celebrate the hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Welsh Baptists, and I’m very pleased that so many Members, including you, Llywydd, were present.
I want to highlight the role that the Welsh Baptists, along with other Welsh nonconformist chapels, played in the continuity of the Welsh language during the early part of the twentieth century. It also played a major role in Welsh politics, and provided many members to the Liberals, Labour and Plaid Cymru. The success of the Baptists’ cause can be seen in the villages, towns and cities of Wales where there were in excess of 1,000 Baptist chapels.
Welsh Baptist ministers have played a major role in Welsh politics at hymn writing. Lewis Valentine was a famous hymn writer, whose most famous hymn was Gweddi dros Gymru, but was also an early member of Plaid Cymru and one of the three who in 1936 set a bombing school on fire. Thomas Price was a leading figure in the political and religious life of Victorian Wales, and a minister at Calfaria Baptist Chapel, Aberdare, whose first job was as a pageboy. Joseph Harris, Welsh Baptist minister—who had ‘Gomer’ as his bardic name—on 1 January 1814 launched the first Welsh language weekly Seren Gomer in Swansea. We, as a nation, owe a great deal of gratitude to the Baptist Union of Wales for what they’ve achieved for the last 150 years.