Christmas Evans' Church Caernarvon (1832)




After leaving Cardiff, Evans was invited to the Welsh Baptist Association in Liverpool where a special meeting was called to discuss his future. There were several options open to him including a strong invitation to go back to Anglesey. By this time he felt reconciled to what had happened to him there and he was willing to consider returning. Several people encouraged him to return to the island, but he did not feel called there, so it was decided that he should take up the offer of a small church of about thirty people in Caernarvon. The church was disunited and in debt to the tune of £800, a considerable sum. Shortly after his arrival there was an Association meeting in Anglesey and the whole neighbourhood flocked to see him. They were amazed to see him looking younger than they expected and sounding as good as ever. He wrote in his journal at this time, “and now, in my old age, I see the work prospering wonderfully in my hand, so that there is reason to think that I am, in some degree, a blessing to the Church, when I might have been a burden to it, or rather a curse, by which one might have been induced to wish me laid in the earth.” Once again Evans was in a problem church; the people were not godly and there was a lack of mature believers who could disciple the others. The burden of the debt was great, but God supplied someone to go through England, Ireland and Scotland raising money and by this method £400 was collected. Evans prayed for this person twice every day because as usual he knew that the only way things could be achieved was through prayer. Ministers from all denominations were exceedingly kind and supportive to him, showing him great respect and friendship. There was progress in the church, but it was slow. Despite his age and health he often preached powerfully around the country and he put into print several lectures and sermons. He gave up drink as an example to others and joined the ‘Tee Total’ movement, and he was a strong supporter and encourager of the missionary movement. The burden of the debt on the chapel was great. In 1838 the remaining £300 had to be repaid, so Evans decided he had to go on another tour to the South to raise the money. He was now 71 years old and it is scarcely conceivable that he should need to go on this journey. He set out with his wife and a young minister, John Hughes, but before he went he wrote a circular that was published in the ‘Welsh Magazine.’ “We have received notice to pay up £300. The terms of the lese of life has expired in my case, even three score years and ten, and I am very much afflicted. I have purposed to sacrifice myself to this object, though I am afraid I shall die on the journey (he did die on the journey) and I fear I shall not succeed in my errand for Christ. We have no source to which we can now repair, but our own denomination in Wales, and brethren and friends of other communities that may sympathise with us.” He pleaded with the people to smile upon him and contribute to his cause. He was received with great joy wherever he went and people flocked, as ever, to hear him. Incredibly, in May he visited twenty-two towns, and in June twenty three. In Monmouthshire he preached before the County Association. It was said that the sermon evinced all his vigour and intellect, and splendour of genius, and as perfect a command over the feelings of the great crowd as ever. However, he got sick here and was laid up for a week before going on to preach in Caerphilly (where his former antagonists were pleased to see him), Cardiff, Cowbridge, Bridgend, and Neath, reaching Swansea on July 14th. He preached twice on Sunday at Bethesda, the Welsh Baptist church; then on Monday evening at Mount Pleasant Chapel, where he was heard by many to say, “This was my last sermon,” as he came down the pulpit stairs. He was taken ill during the night and died four days later on the Friday. Christmas Evans was buried four days later in the graveyard of the Welsh Baptist Chapel in Swansea. There was mourning throughout Wales and, there was scarcely a Baptist Chapel in Wales where the pulpit was not draped in black.