10-13 JUNE 2018, NANTGWRTHEYRN
This year the BUW Welsh language annual meetings were held under the auspices of the Arfon Association. The event started with a lively family service at Tyddshon under the care of Caersalem, Caernarfon and a powerful address by the Revd Olaf Davies, Emmaus, Bangor. Following a ‘pig roast’ dinner a Singing Festival was held at Capel y Beirdd based on the hymns writers of Llŷn and Eifionydd and under the able baton of Mr Gwilym Griffith.
The remainder of the meetings were held at Nant Gwrtheyrn and for several delegates this was the first time they had visited this particular venue and had the opportunity to learn more about the important work being undertaken there, as a Welsh Centre for adult learning.
Following the Union’s Business Meeting on Monday afternoon, there was a ‘1234 denomination Seminar’ in which the Reverend Dr Rhys Llwyd questioned Arfon ministers, the Revd Aled Davies and Olaf Davies, about their experiences serving as community ministers. Unfortunately, the Revd Dylan Rhys Parry (who serves 4 denominations in Llandudno) was unable to attend due to illness. In his place, the Revd Eseia Grandis (Adulam Felinfoel, Salem Llangennech and Seion Llanelli) who served as minister in Patagonia was invited to share his experiences. It was an extremely interesting session at which several important questions were raised about the future of co-denominational developments.
The Lewis Valentine Memorial Lecture was delivered by the Revd Pryderi Llwyd Jones, Cricieth and his topic was ‘Valentine 2018’. He gave a probing analysis of the statement made by Valentine when he appeared in Caernarfon Crown Court after he burnt the RAF training ground at Penyberth in 1936 and we were challenged by him to consider the relevance of the Valentine statement in our context today. A copy of the lecture can be purchased at £3 by contacting the Revd Aled Davies (01766 819120 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
On Monday evening, the Revd Aled Davies was inaugurated as president of the Union and it was a delight to listen to his address on the topic of ‘paths’, based on the opening verses of chapter 43 of the Prophecy of Isaiah. Aled first referred to the president’s path, namely his own journey and its influences; secondly, to the path of the President, the Lord of Jesus which leads us along the journey of life; and thirdly, to prosperous paths, which was his hope for the year of his presidency and his intention of heartening, encouraging and inspiring people in Mission. The address is available on YouTube.com.
The final session of the day was a conversation on the sofa in the company of the former president, the Reverend John Talfryn Jones, Ebenezer, Ammanford and Mr Alun Thomas. John referred to several peaks and honours he had experienced during the year and expressed his appreciation for the opportunities to represent the Union on various occasions. Mr Alun Thomas, a native of Anglesey, was about to complete his doctorate at Trinity University, Dublin. He shared his experiences whilst studying Hebrew and Aramaic and expressed his hope of being called to ministry.
Tuesday morning’s theme was Mission and we were informed by the Reverend Simeon Baker, BUW Director of Mission and Dr Menna Machreth, BUW Mission Coordinator of missionary developments. Reference was made to the plans for the Action Wales Team which would commence in September in the Caernarfon and Bangor area, missionary workshops, toolbox, missionary grants, internship scheme and the 2018 St David’s Day campaign. This was followed by a seminar which was instrumental in considering today’s missionary opportunities. Catrin Hampton talked of sporting opportunities, Gruffydd Rhys Davies shared his experience of reaching out at the university and Andrew Settatree talked about his work in leading youth clubs. It was a very useful morning and a way of encouraging and challenging us when we consider our local situations.
On Tuesday afternoon, we followed the pilgrim routes (in a bus) and travelled over to the ancient churches of Clynnog and Aberdaron and received a warm welcome and heard special presentations from the Reverends Lloyd Jones and Naiomi Starkey.
The General Secretary, Judith Morris, shared her hopes for the future on Wednesday morning. She referred to some of the challenges of the future and what would be likely to characterize the Union in the years to come. Closer working together with churches and Associations would have to be undertaken and working in partnerships to deliver top quality ministerial and missionary leadership. During this session all delegates had the opportunity to share hope stories with each other.
The Reverend Owain Llyr Evans, Minny Street, Cardiff was the guest preacher at the Ministerial Service on Wednesday morning and we had a special message from him based on a Peter’s healing the lame at the temple gate. During the service, the Revd Rob Nicholls, the Welsh Church of Central London, was welcomed formally following his ordination earlier this year. Rob was also responsible for leading us in the morning devotions. The conference concluded with two topical and important seminars: one from Lowri Ann Jones, Caernarfon who shared her experience of volunteering at food banks and the other by Delyth Wyn Davies, Chwilog who talked about how the church can be dementia friendly.
Without doubt, we had a blessed, useful and challenging experience at our conference this year and I am sure that most of the sessions would have been of interest to Christians across Wales in particular the seminars relating to mission, community ministries and responding to the contemporary needs of our society. Similarly, many of the offerings of the Welsh Independents’ Union and the Presbyterian Church of Wales would have been of interest to the Baptists. Has the time not come for us to seriously consider holding an annual joint conference, as three denominations, to plan for our mission and ministry in the twenty-first century and to encourage and hearten each other across Wales? I wonder what the obstacles would be?
Judith Morris, General Secretary of the Welsh Baptist Union