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13 erthygl ar y dudalen hon

Congregationalism in the Aber…

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Congregationalism in the Aber Valley. —— A brief review of the Independent cause in the Aber Valley shows at a glance that it has undergone great and important alterations in the last century. At that- time (100 years ago) Senghenith was unheard-of, and Aber was a small village of a score inhabitants, chiefly en- gaged in tanning leather and farming. There was no chapel in the locality nearer than Groeswen, and that was then nothing like the splendid edifice it now is. The earliest record we have of the Independents at Aber is that they congregated at a house no wtenanted by Mr Cook, blacksmith, Aber. The house stands just as old-fashioned as in the days of its chapelhood, and many and fervent were the prayer that ascended from under its roof. Twenty-years later we find this little band of pilgrims under the ministry of the Rev W. Hughes (immortalised by Tawplfryn in h:s recent publication, "Y Tadau Annibynol.") and with Evan Lewis (Evan y Gof) as conduc- tor of sinsring, they were delightfully happy and successful in their heavenward journey. If was a matter of duty to attend Groeswen each Sunday morning, after which a Sunday School and evening service were held at the hcuse above-mentioned. It may interest some t!) know that Groeswen was at that time com- posed of three branch-churches, viz., Nant- garw, Aber, and Gkuitaf. The last, however. has declared itself independent of the others fo- many years. Following the death of Mr Hughes, a unanimous call was given to the Rev Moses Rees, Pencader, some of whose children a' present reside at Caerphilly. Under his ministry there was n. decided revival for the little band at Aber was considerably increased and soon the whole neighbourhood felt the in- fluence of the "Shepherd of Groeswen." Chief among the members at, Aber then were per- haps Mr P. Phillips, Garth Farm; Mr Thos. Meyrick, Mr and Mrs Thomas. Gelli Farm, and Mr Hopkin Smith, Cwrtycelyn, the descen- dants of all of whom still inhabit the neigh- bourhood. The house-chapel became too small flJ" the crowded congregations, and through the generosity of Mrs Francis, Abertridwr—a trnly religious la(Ir-a piece of ground was secured on leasehold terms, and a chanel was built on the same spot as Adulam now stands. It was a common sight to see the minister, mcunted on his pony, traversing miles upon miles of ground, and delivering several sermons ft places miles apart on the same day. Death robbed Groeswen of their master after a very successful ministry, and be was succeeded by the Rev W. Caledfryn Williams, Caernarvon, whose poetry and bardie work outlives him as memento of his greatness. Under his power- ful ministry there was no abatement in the religious improvement of the neighbourhood, and a whole nation of Cymry deplored his loss, and revered his memory by the erection of a tomb and monument in the Groeswen Church- yard. Some years ago a dastardly attempt was made by someone to deface the monument by smelting the cupreous metal, of which it is composed. Needless to say their efforts were frustrated, but it is a pity the perpetrators have never been discovered for punishment. Caledfryn died, and left the church in- a flourishing condition for his successor, the Rev William Nicholson. The preachings of Nichol- son fully maintained the reputation of Groes- wen, and the chapel at Aber became too small, with the result that it was extended in 1865 to its present capacity. Hundreds flocked from far and wide to enjoy his spiritual teachings, and never was a loss more severely felt than when it was known that Mr Nicholson had accepted a more lucrative post at Liverpool. Consequent on -his departure, a unanimous call was given the Rev Caleb Tawelfryn Thomas —the present minister. As conscientious in ,his duty and assiduous in his efforts to main- tain the high reputation of Groeswen, Mr Thomas has excellently succeeded, for the chapel debt-about 9600--exigting at his ordi- nation, has been swept away; and the outlook of his ministerial career is of the brightest. The congregation at Aber for some years has been decidedly weak for the want of popula- tion chiefly, for the membership of Adulam has always held the upper hand over its old and honourable rival—the church at Bglwys-' ilan. When sinking operations commenced at Senghenydd the congregation at Aber was con- siderably augmented. Senghenith having then n i place of worship. Under iOO guidance of the Rev C. Tawelfryn Thomas, a cause was commenced at Senghenith, and known as Noddfa. This was supported by Mr David Thomas, manager, and has succeeded, though against other sects, to such an extent, that the Noddfa, recently built, stands out as one of the best of the 5,000 Congregational churches in England and Wales. The members have not yet decided upon a minister. The sink- ing of the Windsor pits at Aber have, of course naterially assisted the cause at Adulam,which, so far, is the only place of worship in the im- mediate neighbourhood. With the coming of Messrs W. Brace and M. Morgan from Groes- wen to Aber, it was found advisable to discon- tinue the weekly walk to Groeswen on Sunday mornings on the plea that Adulam was now strong enough to conduct its own affairs. Con- sequently a radical reformation has taken place. Deacons have been appointed, a church secretary and conductor of singing selected, and under the new role, things seem to be on a fair way to success. Communion services ere now held at Adulam. and a movement is on foot to purchase the necessary plate. Miss E. A. Miles, the organist, has been assiduous in her efforts to collect the finances for the same, and the result of her labours have been crowned with success. This new departure is likely to better the prospects of the Independents in Aber,, so much so that a deputation has already been appointed to secure the site for the erection of a substan. tia' edifice when the congregation has increased to such an extent as to render it necessary. Further, a, gentleman, who, in an official capacity, has great interests in the neighbour- hood, and who has but recently become known t, the inhabitants, has from purely religious, and generous motives gratuitously offered to light the new Adulam with electricity. This, in itself, should act as a stimulus to the mCIll bers associated with the cause at Aber. to strive and combine together for a glorious undertaking. We hope to be in a posi- tion ere fong to publish in the "Free Press" an account of the fulfilment of this excellent dona- tion, and also to state that CongregtitiQnalism at Aber is flourishing far above v hat it has ever rewhcl (K?ore.

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