New Quay Chapel (1903)

The first stirrings of the 1904 Welsh Revival were happening in New Quay, a port on the west coast of Wales. The minister at the Calvinistic Methodist chapel in New Quay was Joseph Jenkins. Jenkins was born in 1859 in the Rhondda and was brought up in a devout home. As a teenager he had been caught up by the evangelistic fervour of the Salvation Army. Having been a minister in Caerphilly and Liverpool, he came to New Quay in 1892.

By 1903 Jenkins, and his nephew John Thickens who was minister at nearby Aberaeron, were very dissatisfied with the state of the church and their own ministries. They noticed a spiritual decline in the church, with people looking towards the ‘world’ to bring a ‘social Utopia’. In an attempt to reverse the decline, Jenkins and Thickens proposed to the presbytery (local ministers) that they put on a series of conferences on the theme of deepening the spiritual life. This was agreed and the first was at New Quay over the New Year. Thickens reported that during the conference there was an intense longing to know Christ’s love.

In February a young woman called Florrie Evans followed Jenkins home after a Sunday service. She said to him ‘…I saw the world in tonight’s sermon and I am under its feet; I cannot live like this.’ Jenkins told her to acknowledge the Lordship of Christ over her life. During a young people’s meeting the following Sunday, Florrie stood up and said ‘I love the Lord Jesus with all my heart’. An overpowering sense of God’s presence fell in the meeting and on subsequent meetings. Two other young women, Maud Davies and May Phillips were set on fire. The young people started to visit other churches to share the blessing. This could be said to be the beginning of the Welsh Revival of 1904. There may have been other similar happenings in other chapels in Wales at this time, but I have not found any recorded.

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